Abigail Kramer: STEP Project Reflection

For my STEP project, I interned at the American Heart Association in Columbus, Ohio as a Heart Walk Intern. My role largely consisted of me helping out with whichever tasks were necessary in order to move the event preparations along such as logging donations, reaching out to volunteers, and gathering the equipment necessary for the Heart Walk.

One of the biggest personal transformations I have noticed since the completion of my project is a greater appreciation and understanding of being a team player. Never before had I had a hand in planning an event as large as the American Heart Association’s annual Heart Walk. I had not realized the extent of attention to detail as well as having the confidence to rely on others that they will complete their tasks that is demanded by such a large event. This realization also influenced me to always be putting forth my best effort, especially because I knew that the success of my coworkers’ endeavors, as well as the event as a whole, depended on it. This project has inspired me to always go the extra mile, and has also shown me how easy this can be when you are working toward a cause that you are passionate about.

One of the most positive aspects of my internship was the rapport that I built with my supervisor, Jen. I believe that Jen pushed me out of my comfort zone in a lot of ways. She would often give me a task which I felt was particularly daunting or that I was not quite sure that I had the ability or resources to successfully complete. Somehow, I always managed to get the job done and she would express that she knew that I would be able to do it all along. Knowing that the tasks I completed were ones that I had initially deemed impossible made the experience all the more rewarding. I could tell that she genuinely appreciated my work and this made me all the more eager to continue doing well and taking on more tasks.

One event in particular during my internship which enforced the importance of teamwork was when I was part of a video shoot for a collaboration between the American Heart Association and Run Like a Girl, which is an organization which develops walks, runs, and 5K’s geared toward girls aged 14 and younger. Going into the day, I definitely felt nervous because I had never been involved with a video shoot on this scale before and also because I would be featured in the video. Once things got started, I soon realized that this was a casual, collaborative setting and instantly felt more excited than I did intimidated. We took various shots of us running, walking, and stretching all while wearing our AHA and Run Like a Girl Gear.   Once things got underway, my supervisor would ask us for our suggestions of what we should shoot next. I ended up being filmed running full-speed down a hill, which if you had asked me at the beginning of the day, I would never have predicted.

A final example of teamwork and its impact on me throughout the duration of my internship was the day of the Heart Walk, August 25th. It was so rewarding to see the things that I had been working on all summer finally come to life, such as the obstacle course I designed for the “Kid’s Zone” as well as the infographics I had created for various booths that were there at the event. My fellow intern and I worked the “Selfie Station,” which was a tent with various backdrop options and silly props. To my surprise, our station maintained a massive line throughout the duration of the event. It was incredibly heart warming to see all the families and friends coming together to celebrate their loved one’s victory over heart disease and be able to enjoy themselves in such a positive setting. I also had the privilege of taking photos at the survivor finish line, which is a special area at the end of the race for those who have battled heart disease. At the survivor finish line, they are greeted with cheers, handshakes, and a medal from all of us at the American Heart Association. I found myself getting emotional seeing the love and support surrounding the survivors as well as the strength which allowed them to still be here today. The ability to see first-hand the way my hard work was impacting others was an experience I would not change for the world.

I believe that this newly-honed skill will be especially valuable to me in my future career as a nurse. Being a successful nurse requires you to be working to the best of your ability 24/7, because slip-ups or carelessness in this field could cost a patient their life. A good nurse is also someone who is not afraid to ask for help when they need it or someone who is ready to step in when someone else needs assistance. It is often nurses to be the ones interacting with patients the most, and therefore ultimately they can determine whether a patient’s experience is more negative than it should be. I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to intern with the American Heart Association this summer because it allowed me to be a reliable and appreciative team member, as well as contribute to a cause larger than myself.