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 was a college intern with the Ohio State Departement of Transportation office of Estimating. I primarily conducted data analysis on a variety of transportation-related datasets.
- 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.
I came to see myself as a significantly more able programmer than at the beginning of the summer. At the beginning of the summer, I had a lack of confidence and just assumed that people I considered smarter than me would be more successful and be better than me no matter what I did. After all the work I put in this summer I am now confident that I am equally competent as anyone else at Ohio State.
- 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 worked on two main projects during the summer. First I was in charge of determining how well the districts (Ohio is divided up into 12 transportation districts) estimated the actual cost of projects. The hardest part of this was gathering data. To gather the data I had to learn a language called SQL. SQL stands for “Structured Query Language” and I had no familiarity with it.At first, it was daunting when my boss asked me to start learning SQL. I started reading a book on it and was initially overwhelmed. But then I asked for some advice, and took a few deep breaths, and it eventually started to click. After a few months with it, I was rolling. Now I can write in SQL almost as easily as I can write English. It’s hard to describe exactly what that meant to me. Learning that I was capable of being good at –much less great at—SQL was one of the biggest confidence boosters of my life and I’ll remember it forever.
I also worked on a hedonic estimation project. Hedonic Estimation is essentially predicting the price of a given item based on the price of its components. For example, If you want to predict the price of a house, you can approximate it if you know its location, cubic footage, number of bathrooms, etc. This was valuable to me because it required me to make interesting visualizations of various data relationships. Moreover, my boss was really relying on me to make accurate conclusions. It was wonderful.
- 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.
I’ve always struggled with confidence issues. I’ve always had that little voice in my head telling me that I wasn’t good enough at anything to really make a difference. This summer was a truly wonderful way of stepping out of my shell and learning who I have the potential to be!
For example, when I got my first project, I was really really nervous. I’d never worked on anything quite like it in school, and I didn’t know if I was gonna be up to the task. I spent a lot of time worrying about if my boss disliked me, or if he was going to be mean, or how he would respond if I asked for help. Eventually I hit a wall, and I had no idea how to proceed. I went to him for help and he wasn’t mad, and he wasn’t upset. He was happy to re-explain what he wanted, and told me I never needed to worry about asking for help. That encounter, probably more than anything else this summer, helped me transform as a person. What I really learned was how to take pride in my work. I learned that delivering a quality final product is rewarding in and of itself. During my time, I gained a reputation as a quality intern. I am now trusted to do projects without tons of supervision, and my boss trusts my analyses without too much scrutiny. In a nutshell, this experience helped me learn that when I put my mind to it, this is something I’m good at. Really good at. More importantly, it’s something I love doing. Without STEP, I never would have had this opportunity, and I’ll remember this for the rest of my life.