Quincey Patterson: STEP Internship Reflection

Name: Quincey Patterson

Project: Internship

For my STEP signature project I chose to pursue an internship with Harley-Davidson Motor Company in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. While working for Harley-Davidson I was assigned to a Powertrain Development team where I worked on various product development projects throughout my 8 month term.

Through this opportunity I was able to learn a lot about myself over the course of my 8 month stay in Wisconsin. This was first true experience of living on my own. Before I had lived in the dorm so buying food and other necessities, being the only person responsible for cleaning the living space, and keeping track of my utility usage was never truly required or necessary. Through this I learned that I’m not as much of an introverted person as I would have previously thought. I had surprised myself with how easy and willingly I would put myself in-front of people I had never met, knowing they would by my co-works and bosses, to communicate and socialize with them. Most courses I’m currently in don’t really require a person to ever talk to anyone or speak in-front of the class so noticing this about myself showed how much I had opened up from my more introverted days. Additionally, I can recall two instances of sharing space with people, which I previously would have been uncomfortable. One was with a camping trip several other interns helped organize where I ended up sharing a tent an primitive campsite with people didn’t exactly know very well, but I ended up having fun and not focusing on sharing that small of a space with people I didn’t know. The other instance was in the workplace when I received a neighbor in my cubicle. He was an older gentleman who was rather talkative, upbeat and since I was still a student he took an interest in me and my work. This would mean he would constantly slide his chair into my workspace to look at what I was working on with my computer. At first, I didn’t like the proximity, but I eventually grew to not mind and even enjoyed the interest he had and the input I would get from him. I also found that while I had become more outgoing over the years than I had thought, I still needed other people as I wouldn’t leave my apartment if I didn’t have work or need to go shopping, with the exception of a few hiking and fishing trips, unless someone else was making plans and wanted someone to tag along.

In the workplace I learned how to defend my ideas against scrutiny from those who may know more about the subject than I do. A specific case of this is where I was working on a project involving human factors involving thermal comfort and I was able to respectfully and successfully defend my testing plan against scrutiny from people who actually had their degrees and had worked in those areas. However, I also learned my on-the-spot speaking skills are not as sharp as I had previously thought, but I had plenty of opportunities to work that. Most mornings my manager would call together an update meeting and occasionally I would be asked to speak and the first several times I was caught off guard and not able to effectively relay my “report.” Overtime though this improved whether through constantly being prepared to report or just the improvement of my ability to communicate when being put on the spot.

These transformations are significant to me because I was able to get a sort of reality check on my interpersonal skills and how I would operate in a professional setting. I believe the changes will impact me positively as I finish up my education and begin building a career as being able to communicate with others and interact with them both professionally and socially is a big part of moving up in a company. Additionally, the ability to successfully defend my arguments while still being concise and respectfully to superiors is important. This can be especially difficult when you’re trying to challenge your boss or people reporting to your boss, while at the same time not come off as being arrogant, rude and disrespectful. Overall, I would consider the experience I had at my Co-op with Harley-Davidson to be an extremely positive one and the transformation I underwent will definitely be helpful in my life and professional career.