STEP Reflection

For my step project I worked an internship in a retail distribution center for Gap Global Supply Chain – located in Groveport Ohio. While I was there I worked as an Industrial Engineer and directly contributed/completed projects having to do with ergonomic assessments, distribution optimization, and database administration.

This project let me really begin to understand myself as an adult. For this summer I was living away from home, working a 40 hour work week, and generally just being self-sufficient. Through this process I started to figure out what life post college will (or at least could) be like. Wake up, go to work, come home, eat dinner…then what? I had no idea what to do with this blank time after dinner but I challenged myself to find activity for it. With what, I will discuss later.

The other thing this project let me understand was how I felt about my possible/likely career path. Although this was not my first internship, it was the first one that applied directly to my major and it was very eye opening. I learned a lot of things that I liked about my major (more particularly the job track I was in) but also stumbled across more than a couple things I was not a fan of. Upon leaving my internship, I knew what I had no interest in the realm of distribution centers but did find out that I had more of an interest in ergonomics. In this way I was transformed. I originally thought I would be spending my career managing warehouses but in reality I may be doing a more research and development approach.

When I first started working at the Gap I was very excited. This new environment of a distribution center seemed interesting and busy with plenty that needed to be done without ever having quite enough time to do so. It was my kind of place. However, about a month in, the concrete floors and metal girders had both lost substantial amounts of their original sheen. Once I had gotten a feel for the distribution center I found myself wanting to spend less and less time there. The projects I was working on were like pulling teeth to me and I just really was not enjoying the world of reviewing standards in a warehouse all day.

However, around the same time I got one of my big projects. I was assigned to may job safety and physical demands assessments for the entire facility. It is objectively a very boring and tedious task. It involves observing each individual job being done and then measuring and adjusting the work area to optimize productivity and minimize worker injuries. In other words, I was doing very basic ergonomic work. I had always been familiar with ergonomics due to my mother practicing them with her job as a therapist but this was my first hands on experience with them. Long story short, I really enjoyed doing the project and became even more interested in ergonomics to the point that I am currently planning on changing my focus away from supply chain logistics to human factors and ergonomics. I would count that as a transformation.

A separate but also notable transformation from this summer was my discovery/interest in painting. Earlier I mentioned that I had to find a productive use of my “post dinner” time. Well I found a fill for that time and it was painting – particularly spray painting. Without this summer I would have never discovered my knack for this activity, nor would I have a creative outlet.