Hospitality in the South

My STEP project brought me to North Little Rock (NLR), Arkansas working for Caterpillar Inc, the world’s largest mining and aggregate removal company. I worked as a Supply Chain intern for the NLR location that manufactured Motor Graders and Wheel Loaders, both aggregate removal machinery. My STEP funds covered my living expenses and some additional travel expenses such as gasoline.

Moving from the Midwest to the South for a summer led me to some profound realizations about the environment that I had grown up in. Though I had opportunities to work in Illinois, the HQ of CAT, I knew that I wanted to work elsewhere, outside of the Midwest. I knew that the culture of the South was inherently different than that of the rest of the US, as I had heard from other people my whole life. The concept of “Southern hospitality” was a myth to me, as far as I knew, I met some pretty nice people in the Midwest growing up. But I wanted to find out for myself.

Most notably, I noticed a difference between how people treated strangers. While I assumed that the notion of hospitality would be a farce and not really noticeable, it was quite literally in your face. I realized how much nicer people could be, despite being people of the same nationality and in the same country: this was purely due to location. Granted, as a white male, I fully recognized that I am fortunate to have been treated the way that I was in the South but at the same time, I did not witness first-hand the traditional racism and hatred that the South is notorious for. Rather, I started to view the South of the United States as more of a homely residence, one where everyone knows each other and consists of a small town vibe. While I wasn’t a fan of the heat in the Arkansas summer, I could see myself returning to the South soon.

About halfway through the summer, I took some time off to go to Manhattan to visit some friends and the difference I noticed from the trip was eye opening to say the least. My trip started out as any other trip, flight, arrive to destination, and do some sight-seeing. Early into my time in New York, I was walking along the street to meet up with some friends. In New York, there is no shortage of people walking to and from different places, with more people on a square block than I would see on a daily basis in Arkansas. As I walked down the street, I kept my head level and eyesight in line with people passing me by. Making eye contact with them was a challenge: if I could make eye contact at all, nearly every person would simply turn their gaze elsewhere. I found this odd, with so many people, there had to be some friendly faces in the crowd.

Returning to Arkansas brought me back to the reality and the lack of warmth that I didn’t realize I was missing. It was remarkable, as soon as I arrived in the South, the change was almost immediate. I had a connecting flight in Georgia and sitting down at the gate, I was greeted by a stranger sitting next to me who decided to strike up some conversation. As I finished my time in Arkansas, this was a reoccurring theme. Any time I would be biking or simply walking through the street, even walking through the plant, people passing by would greet me. At first I thought this was subtle, but the kindness in the South in relation to the East Coast and even the Midwest was almost overwhelming.

I distinctly remember one instance in which I noticed an individual in the South not looking or acknowledging a coworker of mine and me as we crossed paths with her. Almost immediately, my coworker remarked on her lack of eye contact and said something along the lines of “wow, it’s so easy to say hi to people yet she didn’t…”. This wasn’t anything I wasn’t used to; growing up in the Midwest, we had some nice people and some not so nice people. But this coworker had grown up in Arkansas, that culture was all he knew. Anybody that wouldn’t exhibit such a demeanor would stick out like a sore thumb. But he was right, it was very easy to pick one’s eyes up and greet a stranger.

I didn’t realize until after my visit that the difference in regional cultures was so vast and something I want in my life. I suppose when I started out in Arkansas, I was treated well by everyone there. In my view, this was them being friendly with the fact that I was starting out. I didn’t realize that this continued until I went to New York, in which I realized the lack thereof. In fact I even tried to bring the “Southern hospitality” to the East Coast but was met with silence. I realized that cultures are not anything I can impose but rather accept.

Going forward, I’m bringing Southern hospitality to wherever I go. Not that I am imposing it and forcing people to engage in similar behaviors, but rather bringing a new quality of life to myself and those around me. There is no reason to not be friendly to someone, at least starting out. Starting off on a good foot with a stranger is the best way to build rapport and ultimately shows others that I am a genuine and caring person.

Personally, I’m not sure why more folks don’t have a friendly attitude: it helps with quite a lot and makes me happier as a whole. I suppose that some people don’t like being “fake” or forcing happiness if that’s not what they feel. To that end, I completely understand, we all have bad days, weeks, etc. But I’m going to take some time whenever I feel upset or annoying with something to reflect on what it is that is happening and why I am upset. Hopefully, I can acknowledge and be mindful of how I feel, eventually bringing myself back to a mindset of Southern hospitality.

Interning at Nike: Reflections on Change


For my STEP Signature Project, I drove over 3,000 miles across the country to intern in Portland, Oregon for Nike in Global Marketing. I completed multiple projects for my department, as well as out of the department on cross-functional teams. I also participated in an intern-wide competition where 12 teams of 8 interns competed to find a disruptive solution to a company-wide problem, and ultimately our team placed second which was an amazing experience.

This experience pushed me out of my comfort zone both personally and professionally, drastically changing my perception of myself as well as of the world. Firstly, my trip across the country opened my eyes to so many new parts of this beautiful country and was one of the most transformative experiences I have ever had. My friend who was also interning at Nike drove with me and we spent a total of two weeks driving out to Portland and back, visiting friends and camping in national parks along the way. I have always made it a priority to live a free and expressive life, but this was the ultimate sense of freedom, a sense that still gives me chills to write about. I promised myself I would reignite my passion for literature, music, and for the arts this summer, so I wrote obsessively this summer and will be sharing some meaningful quotes throughout this reflection. During the trip we had little to no idea where we would be sleeping each night, little cell reception, and yet always wore mischievous smiles from ear-to-ear: we were free and on the road.  The road was our home, and as one of my all-time favorite writers would say:

“If you’re twenty-two, physically fit, hungry to learn and be better, I urge you to travel – as far and as widely as possible. Sleep on floors if you have to. Find out how other people live and eat and cook. Learn from them – wherever you go.

― Anthony Bourdain

I took this advice to heart from someone who inspired me from the first time I watched or read his work nearly 6 years ago. From seeing a bluegrass show at Red Rocks in Colorado, to camping in the Grand Tetons and Idaho during bear season, each day brought with it new adventures. The only constant along the way was the comfort of seeing my car again after a long day of hiking or sleeping on a random couch in a new city. That car became our home, and our escape to the next destination, always on the move. I would spend hours sitting in the car, watching the mountains, fields, or desert roll past, just listening to music and journaling. I would meditate and reflect on who I really was and who I wanted to be, and I would spend countless hours listening to podcasts and debating everything from global warming, conspiracy theories, to the current state of politics.

I discovered so much about myself on this trip, it’s hard to even put into words.

The main impact that came from this cross-country trip can best be described by a few quotes about travel by two of my favorite authors: Jack Kerouac and Anthony Bourdain. In traditional academic style, I would usually craftily weave in the best parts of these quotes in order to sound sophisticated with my prose; however, both of these authors would find this a perverse representation of what they stood for, therefore I will let their words speak for themselves, better articulating the feelings of personal growth than I ever could:

“What is that feeling when you’re driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? – it’s the too-huge world vaulting us, and it’s good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.”

― Jack Kerouac, On The Road

 The quotes I am adding throughout this reflection embody the changes that occurred to both my mindset and to my perception of the world after spending a summer traveling the United States and working at Nike. When examining the events, interactions, and relationships that led to these changes, I must start with the central paradox of the summer which caused me to grow so much. To paint the picture, on one hand I was working at one of the biggest corporations in the world, competing with fellow interns for a shot at a well-paying full-time job. It was an intense test of my abilities, and a wonderful chance to practice discipline and see if my education had been worth the money. On the other hand, however, I was spending all of my free time exploring the west coast; the arts scene in Portland, the misty coastline, hiking through rivers and over mountains. I was journaling, meditating, driving to random cities, meeting new people, going to concerts, farmers markets, and all that accompanies living out west. With these two opposing sides in mind, I am a firm believer in Socrates and Plato’s Dialectic method of learning: where two opposing ideas or arguments converge and in the middle you find the truth. That is the central source of my grow experience this summer: the academically stimulating work at Nike contrasted with the new life experiences and deep reflection that came along with them. Once again, as the late great Bourdain put it:

“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.”

― Anthony Bourdain

In regards to the relationships I built this summer, there were many life-changing bonds that came about as a result of this STEP Signature Project. I met 100s of other interns from around the world, many of whom I now call my dear friends. I also established a mentor-like relationship with several of my managers at Nike whom I now call on a regular basis for guidance. All of this has contributed to my newfound confidence as I approach the infamous senior year job search, and I know I can rely on these people and my experiences this summer to help guide my choices. I can now confidently say I have actual experience executing global projects for a company as large as Nike. I was able to work on company-wide initiatives with people from New York, LA, and even in other countries. One of my goals is to have a global career, and this has definitely set me up to make this a reality.

Nike became my home, and it is cemented in my mind as my dream company where I hope to start my career.

By working in a global department at Nike, I was able to learn so much about other countries and cultures, which is something that has always brought me inspiration and happiness. This circles back to my personal growth this summer, as one of my goals before the summer was to allow myself to expand my horizons both personally and professionally. So many people I have met are satisfied with such a sheltered view of the world and a safe career, and I know that would be a miserable existence for me. I don’t want safety and a white-picket fence, I want experiences that challenge, frustrate, and push me to grow. That is what I got this summer, and it confirmed that this is the life that will bring me the most happiness in my 20s and 30s. Moreover, I was surrounded by like-minded people who want to challenge themselves to grow each and every day, and this experience filled me with a newfound resolve and determination.

This transformation of my mindset has been a longtime coming, and I believe it has set me up for not only professional success, but more importantly, for personal growth. Many psychologists argue that personal growth is the most tangible and purposeful path to achieve happiness in this life, and I subscribe to this theory, especially after this summer. Anyone who has said yes to a scary new experience and fully committed to the endeavor without knowledge of the outcome will agree it is fulfilling and life-changing experience. All of my personal and professional goals are now grounded in that life philosophy: that nothing substantive comes out of comfort. It may sound cliché, but when I ask anyone to take a step back and ask themselves when is the last time they have pushed themselves beyond their limits without caring how they look or what people think, they usually blush and change the subject.

I plan to work internationally, meeting new people and learning new languages; however, after completing this STEP Signature project, I found that it is one thing to have this as a goal, but Nike taught me that you have to push and actualize to make it a reality. I plan to try and start out in New York, a city which has never been attractive to me; however, I know it will be a challenge and personal growth experience and therefore want to try it out. I then hope to work abroad for several years, eventually going back to school for a masters, and end up in Denver or out west somewhere. Thanks to this project, I now know that the west coast has my heart, I just need to develop myself more and experience new things before I can fully appreciate all the west coast truly has to offer. Thanks to STEP, I have gained a quiet confidence, a newfound appreciation for people, and an insatiable drive to achieve my goals.

I could not have had a more beautiful summer, and I find it only appropriate to end with one last Anthony Bourdain quote which I think best reflects my experience this summer, and more importantly the legacy of one of the most influential and authentic travelers of all time:

“It seems that the more places I see and experience, the bigger I realize the world to be. The more I become aware of, the more I realize how relatively little I know of it, how many places I have still to go, how much more there is to learn. Maybe that’s enlightenment enough – to know that there is no final resting place of the mind, no moment of smug clarity. Perhaps wisdom, at least for me, means realizing how small I am, and unwise, and how far I have yet to go.”

­-Anthony Bourdain (1956-2018)

Summer in Columbus

For my STEP Project, I participated in The Columbus Foundation’s Summer Fellowship Program. I worked 40 hours a week for a local nonprofit called Besa, and participated in a leadership and professional development cohort with the other Fellows. I was able to gain experience in nonprofit management, data synthesis, customer lifecycle models, strategic planning, HR foundations, and event planning.

I had two major transformations during my STEP experience. I learned so much about the nonprofit ecosystem in Columbus, that my idea of nonprofit structures and operations was completely challenged. I was able to learn from report-outs of 14 other fellows of what challenges and projects their nonprofit host sites were going through for the entire program. I learned what challenges are universal to nonprofits, and which ones are unique. Most of all I realized the value of extra capacity and an outside perspective for organizations that are doing incredible work with minimal resources.

Additionally, the way I view myself, my value, and my ability to impact a team was completely transformed. My nonprofit host site mostly let me pick up projects that I wanted to work on, and allowed me to innovate and hustle on what I thought I would get the most out of. I broke barriers and comfort zones and challenged myself to learn topics like research, data, and coding that I had no experience with previously. This summer I learned that by just being myself, my own skillset is already an immense value add to a team, something that I was not convinced of before. I am now empowered to diversify my skillset and become more confident in the communication of my value to others.

One of the most important times during my experience was when we had life/executive coach, Regan Walsh, come to facilitate a meeting with us exploring our personal mission for Besa. This was not a typical personal mission/vision search, nor was it finding a common goal for the future of Besa. The objective was to define your mission and vision for what you hope to contribute during your time at the organization. We also


were able to share some of our favorite Besa moments and stories and really recenter as a team. As a facilitator by trade, I was deeply engaged in Regan’s facilitation style and unique take on more traditional group theories. I learned so much from those few short hours. I have only worked with developing and facilitating activities for students and individual development, but this helped me to gain insight into what team/organizational facilitation could look like.

Another critical time during my experience was when I had a coffee meeting with one of my team members to learn more about his experience being a developer on many different sized teams and projects. I was able to ask even more very specific questions about what programming looks like from typing to launching and how multiple people can even work on a single project at once. The thing Zack spoke about that resonated with me the most was that being a developer does not have to mean working alone for long periods of time to deliver a product that only you know how to build. Being a developer can and should be collaborative, innovative, and iterative. “Some people think programming is just where nerds go off into their nerd-hole by themselves, but people who are good problem solvers actually make the best developers” he said. I did take a moment to recognize that I claim problem-solving as one of my most marketable skills and tried to internalize that for a moment. The biggest motivation barrier for me to finish any of my online coding classes was not thinking I would be good at coding once I learned the language, or not knowing what to do with it next. Then, one afternoon, myself and another Besa team member, Frances, were able to take Zack up on an offer to have a mini pair-programming workshop to solve a basic problem in Ruby. I had begun learning Ruby and Javascript on my own but being able to see it in a true problem-solving capacity was pretty motivating for me.

This project and the development it gave me is critical for me going into my senior year. I have learned so much and met so many incredible people. One of the best things about being at Besa is that not only is the office full of amazing people, but all of our partners are doing such incredible work, changing lives in the community – every. single. day. It wouldn’t be a monumental life experience without me learning about myself. I’ve learned how I work in an office, and how I function on a typical 9-5 schedule. I’ve learned that personality traits like curiosity and industriousness are more prominent in myself than I thought. I’ve been empowered to be able to identify and communicate my value and to be confident in my ability to contribute. And these lessons and internal transformations have prepared me both personally and professionally for the next year ahead of me.


Thank you STEP, The Columbus Foundation, BESA, OSU, and every wonderful person willing to help me learn.


Culley- Simple Times Cocktail Mixers

This summer I interned for a Columbus based start-up company named Simple Times cocktail mixers. Simple Times was launched in September of 2017, and most of my internship entailed building brand awareness in the Columbus area. I engaged with customers ranging from every-day shoppers to bar managers and local event planners. My duties focused on marketing and public relations; however, I also was challenged in and gained experience in all aspects of how a business is run.

Before my internship, the only marketing class I had completed was the basic “Introduction to Marketing” course. This internship challenged my view of marketing and prepared me in many ways for the classes I am now enrolled in. I did not realize how technical and detail-oriented marketing is. When it came to collecting content for our social media pages, the wording, lighting, placement of the cocktail, background, and much more were taken into consideration. At first, the pictures I took for our page were criticized and many small details were pointed out for me to be mindful of. Many of them were small details I did not consider would impact how customers viewed our page.

My skillset lies more heavily in the way I communicate with others. Throughout the course of the internship, I was challenged to think more creatively. I learned how to use Adobe Illustrator and InDesign to create graphics for their social media. While graphics and picture-based content do not come naturally to me, this summer I was challenged to think outside the box and focus more effort into building these skills. These graphics and our social media are used heavily to engage with our customers throughout the week, so it was crucial that the messages we were portraying through pictures and captions maintained the brand image we had built for ourselves.

This summer I worked closely alongside another intern who had previous experience working with Adobe Illustrator and InDesign. She challenged me to learn the programs and utilize them within the tasks we were assigned. While she was more creative with pictures and art, I had more experience in writing. We were able to work together and play on our strengths to complete various tasks for the company, while also challenging each other to grow in the areas we lacked in.

Before my internship at Simple Times, I did not have a lot of experience working with marketing or managing a specific brand image. Throughout the summer, I learned about what it takes to build and maintain a brand. One of our biggest markets throughout the summer was selling our mixers at farmers markets. Working various farmers markets allowed me to interact directly with our customers and build a further brand relationship with them. My interactions with them also helped me form a better understanding of how our consumers view our brand, which I utilized in creating content for our social media pages.

My boss also challenged me to use my communication skills in personally interacting with various customer bases. I was tasked with the responsibility of reaching out to wedding and event planners around the Columbus area. My interactions with them included sharing our brand story and inviting them to learn more about Simple Times. Through building this client relationship, our goal was to work closely with the planners to provide cocktail mixers to their clients. To form this relationship, I had to cold-call the various event planners and strategically share who we were and why we wanted to build a relationship with them. From there I learned the importance of following up with the planners and how to cater to their specific needs. While our main products are cocktail mixers, we need to cater them to meet the needs of the various audiences. Throughout this process, I again learned how much strategy marketing requires.

This internship gave me a lot of clarity in what I want to do upon graduation. Interacting with and learning how to market a specific brand was a lot of fun for me. It challenged me to think precisely and strategically. I also loved the ability to work directly with customers and see firsthand the impact our product had on them. It was satisfying knowing how much they appreciated our product and that I had a hand in creating something that impacted them in that way. Throughout my senior year, I also plan on continuing to learn and challenge myself in creating visual and graphic content so that I will be better prepared for a future marketing position.


My Summer Internship Experience with PSE&G

For my STEP project, I completed an internship with Public Service Electric & Gas, or PSE&G. It is an electric and gas utility covering the New Jersey area. I worked as the Interconnection Strategy and Management intern. My team worked on project management of third party requests to interconnect onto the power grid. As their intern, I worked on developing the process flow as the team was newer to PSE&G. With the process flow, I developed a standardized manual on the procedures. I also completed a past interconnection database. With my STEP funding, I was able to purchase the necessary things I needed for this internship including specific steel-toed work boots, office clothes, food, and gas.

This internship was a great tool for me to figuring out what fields I may want to go into after school. I learned a lot about myself and what I want for myself professionally. Before this internship, I was still at a loss of what exactly I wanted to do after school. Studying Chemical Engineering, there are so many options to choose from when it comes to picking a job. Because I found a lot of them interesting, I did not know what field I wanted to go into. Now, I know that I want to focus more heavily on project management in the future. I also have a stronger desire in higher education from this internship. I believe I will get a Masters degree in either engineering management or business now to further my education. Another large change in my understanding of myself is how I feel about public speaking. While it still makes me nervous, I am know much more confident in my ability.  Besides professionally, I also developed a lot personally through this internship, through the friends I have made.

Many different opportunities helped me develop these changes and discoveries. One of the main reasons I was able to decide what I want to do is because of the opportunities my group gave me to learn. My supervisor was very hands on about what the company and the department does, how we managed projects, and how my role fits. I also attended many trainings, to both extend my knowledge of my job as well as my knowledge of business and technical skills. From the combination of all of this, I realized that project management is the right career path for me. I am hoping to take this idea into an industry that I find a passion for, which I am still looking to discover.

Deciding to go to school for a master’s degree was never something I was planning on while I was going to school. For the most part, it is not necessary for my degree as it is for others. However, this internship helped change my mind on this ideal. The main reason is because of a newly hired employee that I worked with. She had a very similar path to me. She was a recently hired chemical engineering major who was an intern last year. I got to talking with her because I wanted to see how she was able to use our major in unique ways in the company. As we were talking, she mentioned her desire to go back and get her Master’s in Engineering Management. It was a mostly online program. After talking to her further, I realized that this would be a great path for me. It fits my career goals, while giving me a good opportunity to get a Master’s without having to do research. An added benefit is that PSE&G and many other companies will reimburse the payment of the degree which would really help.

One of the biggest parts of the internship was our presentation in front of the Senior President of my department with all of her senior leadership. I have always had anxiety over presentations, and really do not look forward to doing them. Needless to say, I was very anxious in the days leading up to the presentation. The thing that helped me feel less nervous was practicing as much as possible. I pretty much practiced in front of anyone that would listen to get the nerves out. While I was still nervous when I presented, I ended up doing really well after and realized I felt a lot more nervous then I needed to be. My team complimented my work after, which gave me a lot more confidence in my presentation skills. Overall, while I am not perfect at presenting, I still feel a lot more comfortable with it then I did before.

Having professional experience for an engineering student is vital for other jobs. However, it is necessary to make sure you make the most of any professional experience you get. While this internship was not with a company that is typical for my major, I made sure to put myself out there and explore as many fields of the company as I could. Without this internship, I do not know if I would have a five year plan of what I want to do in my life. It definitely helped me look at myself, and my education and realize what I want to do with it. I also see how valuable school really is, as it will help me achieve all the goals I want in my life. I am so thankful to have done this internship and for STEP for making this happen.


Executive Management Internship at American Red Cross

I was an intern in the executive management department at American Red Cross of the Ohio Buckeye Region. Some of the main projects I worked on include creating a new computerized filing system, a newsletter for the Regional Staff and Board of Directors (example linked below), inventory control, and planning/attending events, such as the 2018 Division Meeting.

Throughout my internship at the Red Cross, I was constantly reminded of how satisfying it is to work for a humanitarian organization. My goal at this internship was to determine whether I would like to work for organizations, such as the Red Cross, once I graduate with a Public Health degree. After spending three months with the amazing, helpful staff and board members, attending meetings where I was able to network for my future, and learning about the amazing work that the Red Cross does for society, I can confidently say that it would be a dream come true to work for such an organization.

During my time at the Red Cross, I learned a lot about what it takes to succeed in the professional world. I had the amazing opportunity to attend important meetings, such as the Board of Directors Meetings and the Annual Meeting, where I was able to network and learn more about the Red Cross. I also had the chance to meet with several Directors of the Ohio Buckeye Region where I was able to ask for professional advice on post-graduation and career plans.

I also learned a lot about how the Red Cross helps society. I learned about a local annual program called Sound the Alarm, which helps install free smoke alarms in at-risk communities. This type of work is not only rewarding, but it also gives staff members and volunteers a chance to interact with their local community and learn more about their needs. The Red Cross has confirmed that a future career in humanitarian work would be amazing and very fulfilling.

Working with the Red Cross gave me insight on how to run a non-profit organization. Not only did I witness work in the executive office, but I also interacted with volunteers and community members. All of these positions are equally respected at the Red Cross because they value collaboration over competition when working in communities. This gave me hope for my future in social services. It is my dream to find a career that emphasizes helping others while also encouraging collaboration amongst members in an organization.

I would like to mention that I will not be leaving the Red Cross anytime soon! I have been given the amazing opportunity to work in the Volunteer Services Department as a Youth Engagement Lead. In this position, I will be helping high school and college students connect with the Red Cross in four areas of youth engagement: volunteerism, blood donation, fundraising, and learning. Receiving this position is not only a great opportunity in itself, but it is also a great honor to know that the Red Cross feels that I can contribute to their organization.

After graduation, I plan on taking a gap year between graduate school and/or getting a master’s degree. During this gap year, I plan on getting my certificate in dietetics and I will be continuing my work as a Youth Engagement Lead at the Red Cross. Without this amazing position and my internship experience, I would not have gained skills in health administration and I would not be as confident in my future as a public health professional.




Ohio Buckeye Region Staff and Board Members

Executive Management Staff

All Staff Newsletter Template: All Staff Newsletter-2b4vh95

STEP Reflection

1.From June to August, I had the opportunity to intern with the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus, the oldest black caucus in the country. I was able to have two articles published in the Minority Business Enterprise Magazine and had the opportunity to learn about small town politics in Lima Ohio. I was able to conduct research and gather data that was to be used by both the caucus and the Ohio Democratic Party.


  1. I believe that my confidence has improved significantly over the course of my internship. I would say that I have always been nervous about going into politics as an introvert. I had believed that it would be hard for me to understand the needs of constituents only because I felt as though I did not have adequate conversation skills. But after speaking with other interns, constituents, and representatives, I feel that I have the knowledge needed to help minorities across Ohio, and now know that I am able to make connections with the people I want to help most.  Not only am I confident in this manner, but I also feel better prepared for graduate school and have a better idea of what to expect on my future career path.


  1. During my STEP project, I developed friendships with other young black leaders. Since I had been insecure about my social abilities, it was nice to hang out at the movies and go out to eat with people that I really enjoyed being around and shared common interests with. We often discussed ways to better serve the black community, various controversial legislation in Ohio, movies, music, and office dynamics. It made me feel as though my interests weren’t as isolating as I had previously thought and made me realize that perhaps I just wasn’t in right environments previously.

Another experience that made my internship all the more real for me was when I had the opportunity to travel with other interns to Lima Ohio to start an OLBC branch in that area. The local politicians there explained to us how members of the mayoral and other elected offices had been and still are in power, and describes how they used immoral means to maintain that power. During that conversation, we had also discussed how members of the black community, especially in rural and small town Ohio are usually out of touch with local politics, making it hard to enact change. Because of this, the African American elected officials made significant efforts to go door to door to reach out to their constituents during elections. This reminded me of the fact that the needs of African Americans cannot be homogenized, and that everyone is facing a different battle. Politics is difficult but can be made easier if you attempt to understand each unique problem.

Lastly, the opportunity to attend the OLBC Gala, as well as the opportunity to research projects and legislation that OLBC members have sponsored throughout the year truly inspired me to work as hard as the members I look up to. Although the OLBC women continuously pass legislation designed to help women, Ohio workers, and children, they are subjected to discrimination in the workplace.


  1. I believe that this change in me is valuable for several reasons. A boost of confidence in my personal character will help me across all aspects of my life, including work, social, and political affairs. How I carry myself now will allow people to see me as a confident, inviting person, which better reflects how I feel on the inside. The new knowledge that I’ve developed about the political realm I plan to use throughout the rest of my career.


Target Internship

This summer, I interned with Target as a software engineering intern. I was placed on the Stores Hosting team, which is one of the teams in charge of maintaining the servers that all Target stores run on. My specific project on the team was to work on a web application that manages the new wireless locks on the server room doors in each Target store.

One of the most important changes in myself that I noticed over the summer was how much more confident I became as a programmer. While at the beginning of the summer I would hesitate to make suggestions or corrections to the code, I afterwards felt comfortable enough with my team and my own abilities to freely say what I thought would make our project better. I also felt that I gained a deeper understanding of the technology industry as a whole. Although Target is ultimately a retailer, both it’s technology team and tech culture have grown to become competitive with many large tech corporations in recent years. Over the summer, I learned about the history of Target’s tech brand and the steps they’ve taken to become recognized as an innovator in the field, which I hadn’t known even before I applied.

In my personal experience, I feel that I’ve learned more practical, transferable skills more quickly in my summer at Target than I would have over a year in college. While university courses certainly helped lay a foundation for the skills I learned in an industry position, since everyone in my project team was starting from little to no experience with the technologies we were using, it felt as though the internship was a long, intensive learning process in itself. Many technologies that I’d started out barely understanding or having never heard of before the summer began, I understood well enough to teach to someone by the end of the summer. It was an incredible process to go through, and one that I don’t think I could have gotten anywhere else.

The server room locks project we worked on was long-term – it began before the interns joined the team and would continue after we left. Our job was primarily to rewrite the code to be shorter, more manageable, and ultimately left in a state where it would be easier for others to add more features. At first, I was disappointed when I realized that we wouldn’t have a nicely finished product at the end of the summer to show for our work – we would just have the same application, but written better than when it was given to us. Towards the end of the summer, however, I realized that our project was a realistic example of what we would be doing as full-time employees. Often, as a programmer, you aren’t starting brand new projects, but rather taking them over from other teams and building upon work that other people have begun.

I think that this turning point occurred for me when the other interns and I were left on our own one day late in the summer to develop a part of the project, without any guidance from the more experienced team members. Although it took us quite a bit longer to read through the code and figure out exactly what we needed to do, we were ultimately able to fix an important bug in the code and put a working version into production. It was the first time that I felt proud of what I’d done as an intern, and also when I realized how much I’d learned since starting my internship.

The experience of working with and getting to know my project team also formed a huge aspect of my internship. Although our team was comprised of both college interns and employees who’d been working in the tech industry for decades, I was surprised to see that the experienced members were just as willing to learn and take suggestions as we were. I also noticed and appreciated how everyone at Target seemed willing to do whatever they could to ensure that the interns got what we wanted to out of our time there.

My internship experience has given me valuable insight into how it will likely be to have a career in the field I’m studying. I got to discover what things I like to do in computer science and want to pursue in the future, and perhaps more importantly, what I don’t like. I feel that the confidence I’ve gained in my programming skills and my ability to learn this summer is irreplaceable. With the connections I’ve made at Target and the return offer I received, I think that I’m in a good position now to apply for a career in the tech industry after graduation, or anywhere else for that matter.

WWCD102.5 Marketing and Promotions Internship

  1. Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project. Write two or three sentences describing the main activities your STEP Signature Project entailed.

This internship was within the Promotions and Marketing Division of the Columbus local Rock Alternative Radio Station, WWCD102.5.  Throughout this experience, I completed various tasks to develop not only my contacts within the radio and music profession here in Columbus.  Weekly I would do things such as write PSA’s, create and organize complex excel spreadsheets, directly interact with employers and customers organizing and throwing events, as well as many other related activities involved with the organization and communication within the independent company.

  1. What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project? Write one or two paragraphs to describe the change or transformation that took place.

Going into this experience, I thought that I had the general idea for how things were going to be.  The main purpose of this experience in my eyes was to see and understand what being at a workplace that was small and independent from larger corporations was like.  One of the biggest things that I had the biggest impact was how close of interaction I got to have with people that had been involved with the station for longer than 35 years.  The environment pushed me to be creative in ways that my brain was not used to, and that was thinking in a way that would please the public.  Creating convincing messages to sway the listeners towards going to a certain event either the station or a business customer was putting on.  A lot of editing and thought was dedicated to creating as perfect of a message that we could.

With the help of other, more experienced, interns as well as my advisors I was able to fully utilize my time to create the best experiences for customers as well as network effectively with the team I was with.  As my minor is Music, Media, and Enterprise to my Marketing Major, this internship really helped me develop professionally in a small section of the Columbus business world.  It really showed me how the jobs that I would be involved in are more than office jobs but a hands on experience that all levels within the company interact with.


  1. What events, interactions, relationships, or activities during your STEP Signature Project led to the change/transformation that you discussed in #2, and how did those affect you? Write three or four paragraphs describing the key aspects of your experiences completing your STEP Signature Project that led to this change/transformation.

One thing that I really liked about this internship was that every week was different.  We would have weekly, set office hours, but also every one or two weeks there would be an event that myself and other various interns and advisors/top marketing people would attend.  These events specifically led to some really awesome experiences that I feel really showed me that Marketing and Promotions is something that I could see myself doing as my profession for a good part of my life.  The people I met through this internship has definitely influenced the way I perceive the professional world as well as my viewpoint on where I want to see myself in the future.

One particular experience that I had that I felt really showed me the power of promotions was at an event that we were working that took place at the Gateway center.  Live music was happening outside and a crowd was gathered to listen to said music.  Myself and a few other radio station employees were there, broadcasting straight from Gateway onto the radio station for an hour and then after that just interacting with the crowd and making sure everyone had a good time.  There was a particular little girl who kept coming up wanting to play the games that we had at our booth.  Of course, we were very nice to the girl and she had a big smile on her face the whole time.  The mon of this girl came up and she looked like she had tears in her eyes, she thanked us for being so nice and patient with her daughter as she has severe autism and most people would just dismiss the girl.  Seeing that emotion that I could evoke from just being a good person and making that young girls night a better night really showed me that even the smallest actions can have a large impact on other people, and that really is the magic of marketing and promotions.  The direct and indirect interactions that can occur between a business and its customers can make a huge difference and impact on people’s lives.

One person that I had the pleasure of working closely with was the head of the Promotions team, Antonio Arellano.  Having worked for the radio station for over 10 years since he graduated from Ohio State with a Communications major, he has had an enormous amount of experience within the industry.  He has worked closely with numerous different types of clients including various management teams from other business, famous or local bands and music artists, conventions put on in Columbus, and many other types professional interactions the head of a promotions and marketing department would have to be involved with.  Working closely with Antonio made it so he was able to show me how to handle day to day issues as well as specific, client based issues.   He was able to teach me essential on-the-spot critical thinking skills by asking me how I would go about solving an issue before he gave his input on how to solve something.  This kind of work was exactly what I was looking for and Antonio really had me step up to the plate and demonstrate what I had to offer.

Overall, my experiences through working the various different events as well as the people I was able to share those experiences with have helped me discover more what I want to do with my future.  It has showed me that the typical, nine to five job is not something everyone must have.  There are plenty of jobs out there that are essential and still enjoyable to have.  Having a hands on work experience as well as direct customer-provider interaction has proven to be an extremely enjoyable work experience that I now know I would like to seek out in the future when looking for a full time position within in a company.  This does not mean I am not opposed to the typical nine to five job, however I now feel a lot more confident in my abilities as an employee to handle the type of jobs that would be more than just sitting behind a desk.

  1. Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life? Write one or two paragraphs discussing why this change or development matters and/or relates to your academic, personal, and/or professional goals and future plans.

Going into this I had little to no idea as to what I wanted to do with my life nor the different types of work experiences I could search for post-college life.  My real goal for this internship was to not only challenge myself, but explore an opportunity that I felt was unique from the typical internship.  The knowledge and experience that I gained from embracing this internship has overall shifted the direction in which I see myself pursuing a career in the future.  On a more personal level, this internship challenged some major insecurities I had about my personality involving interacting a lot with people I did not know and also pushing myself outside of the creative box.  I never thought I was the best at working in high stress situations with people I did not know very well, but this internship taught how to manage to do that.  It definitely created the foundation for me to continue to work out my interpersonal skills.

This internship has overall changed me in so many ways.  It has helped me develop my skills professionally and personally, and has helped immensely when it comes to making decisions regarding my future career path.  I now have a broad understanding of what I like and dislike within a workplace environment as well as the types of businesses that I would like to see myself working with in the future.  CD102.5 has truly helped me feel like I have many different possibilities for my professional future that I could also end up being very happy with.

Kristoffer Hamilton Honeywell Internship

Name:  Kristoffer Hamilton


Type of Project: Internship


  1. Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project. Write two or three sentences describing the main activities your STEP Signature Project entailed.


I worked at Honeywell Aerospace as an engineering intern. I was assigned projects and performed tasks in collaboration with the full-time engineering team.


  1. What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project? Write one or two paragraphs to describe the change or transformation that took place.


My manager gave me more responsibilities in this internship than in the previous year. The largest of those responsibilities was a research project to find a qualified cheaper alternative electrical connector component for future designs and/or replacing them in existing designs. I collaborated with mechanical and electrical engineers as well as technicians and designers, but all this collaboration still left plenty of room for me to makes mistakes and hit snags. It left me with a new confidence in working on things I was unfamiliar with, because even expert engineers, with years more experience than me, did not foresee many of the issues, but were supportive of my efforts for just continuing onwards.


  1. What events, interactions, relationships, or activities during your STEP Signature Project led to the change/transformation that you discussed in #2, and how did those affect you? Write three or four paragraphs describing the key aspects of your experiences completing your STEP Signature Project that led to this change/transformation.


I enjoyed taking soldering training with one of the other interns at my site, Jake. We were both excited to get to learn a new hands on skill, and then also got to spend days working using that new skill, soldering together the connections for my test rig to check the quality of the connector candidates I had chosen. We did literally hundreds of solder connections, it made our training worth it. Learning a new skill in order to put together testing equipment that I needed for my project was a beneficial experience and made better by having a partner to work with.


This last summer I was also the only intern that had already had an internship at Honeywell, so it was also different having the other interns come to me as a somewhat more experienced person at the site. On a few occasions I had Stefan, one of the interns come to me and ask for help doing the 3D modeling for a part he was working on then asked who to go to have the modified part printed on the company’s 3D printer. I was proud to get to use the skills I had picked up the previous year doing hundreds of 3D models and help out another intern on his project troubleshooting a product’s defects.


I had good relationships with many of the people at the company, but I think that the influx of younger people at Honeywell Urbana, as well as a second year there and hence more familiarity with the company and work, I started having a friendly relationship with the other employees at the company and feeling more like a colleague than just an intern. The gradual nature of this feeling did not have any single event, but things like going out to lunch on Friday’s, foosball in the rec room, and chatting on break time. It may seem like an insignificant thing, but I would feel confidant asking everyone I worked with for a reference, and that is a valuable thing.


  1. Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life? Write one or two paragraphs discussing why this change or development matters and/or relates to your academic, personal, and/or professional goals and future plans.


Learning new skills like soldering, 3D modeling, researching and testing products don’t have much personal value, but they certainly skills that some employers will look for and make me a more employable person. This is valuable of course in searching for a job after college.


Gaining insights into corporate culture, working in an engineering team at a large company, and gaining confidence in myself even in work I am unfamiliar with. These are more valuable to me personally. These are somewhat important in making me a better future employee, but I find them more important to me, just to know how to for deciding at what kinds of places I would want to work at in the future.

It ended up pretty messy with all the wires, but this was the heat sink we used. It held 100 LEDs to to visually show whether the connections for the electrical connectors stayed secure throughout the environmental stress testing.

This was a part that I designed to be utilized as a fit check gage for helicopter searchlights. This one was needed as a readjustment to the former check gage after the searchlights were redesigned.