My STEP signature project was a summer internship with the HPS (Hydraulic Pump & Systems) division of Parker-Hannifin. This internship allowed me the new opportunities of working for a large corporation and living fully autonomously for three months.
My first internship in the summer of 2017 was for a very small company where there was a strong focus on “now” rather than the future. The tasks were sometimes uneventful, but were always immediately important and the results implemented within two weeks at most. I thought that many large companies would work slower than this, but I was unprepared for just how slow that was. I came to realize within the first few weeks that this was an environment that I would not want to permanently work in. Meetings happened often, and many formal meetings would take place before any decisions were made. Though the work environment was not my preferred style, I appreciated the opportunity to work in a vastly different setting than I had before.
Another important part of this project was being able to live alone. Previous to this, I had never lived in a place where my needs were not met. I did not realize how difficult it would be to live alone, nor how prepared I was to deal with the day to day challenges. It took until about mid-June before I felt comfortable living without a strong and close-by support system. By the end of the internship, I was more than happy to be living outside of a residence hall and away from my three younger brothers. I now feel that I will be ready to manage living alone once I graduate, as well as during my fifth year in off campus housing.
The rate at which projects advance in a large corporation was shocking by the end of the internship. One example of this was finding a scanning company for old engineering drawings. This was a project that began in week 1 of the internship. It was in the last two weeks of the 12 week internship when the chosen company picked up some of the drawings as a sample of what they do. I originally thought that this would be a relatively fast project, but there were many people who needed to approve the spending, review the quotes, and sign privacy agreements. The scanning was planned to be done in large batches, and take many months to finish.
Another example of this was collaborating with the Tube Fittings Division on a piece of software to improve the speed of modeling tubes in CAD programs. This project was first described in the early May. The first meeting was planned for early July, and a second meeting for the end of July. The software needed a few adjustments to properly connect with our servers, but these changes were fairly minimal. These two projects allowed me to realize the time it takes to complete tasks within large organizations can be significantly longer than planned. It also gave me a strong appreciation for how helpful technology can be. While these tasks took many months, they would have spanned much longer timeframes without the collaborative technologies that we used. These ranged from Skype for Business, Microsoft Sharepoint and Teams, as well as modelling software that allows better visualization of very complex parts.
Towards the end of my internship, I had some trouble with my car. The power steering fluid was leaking, which made the car nearly undriveable. While this was being fixed, the mechanic noted that I desperately needed new tires on the car, and that they were dangerously worn down. Since my dad usually handles car maintenance, bills, and numerous other things, I felt unprepared to deal with a situation like this. However, I was able to find a qualified mechanic, determine what repairs were necessary and what could wait for another day, and get the tires replaced. Additionally, I could no longer transport myself to and from work. Since I was carpooling with another intern for most of the summer, he was able to provide transportation for the duration my car was unavailable. All in all, this cost around $1100 and took approximately two weeks to resolve. This was the one situation where I felt that I was in over my head at the start. By the end of it, I knew that I could navigate many more situations that I had never experienced before.
Being two years away from graduating from Ohio State and starting a full time job is intimidating. I don’t feel like I am old enough to have the responsibility of living on my own or holding down a full time job with the responsibilities of an engineer. However, I will still have to do these things. This STEP project allowed me to gain a better grasp on both of these aspects of my life. I was able to successfully live on my own, manage a few small crises, and manage the stresses of working for a large corporation. Along with working for Parker, I was also able to gain a better understanding of what I was looking for in a career. I enjoy working in hands-on environments, as well as cross-disciplinary collaboration on projects. These allow me to learn something new and grow as an individual instead of completing repetitive tasks that are not personally fulfilling.
The experiences I gained are going to help me every single day to become a stronger professional and a more independent person.