STEP Reflection

  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.


My STEP signature project was a global internship in Madrid, Spain. I lived in the heart of Madrid in a part called Chamberi and rode the metro and walked to work five days a week. I worked with people who did not speak very much english. I was able to learn a lot about myself and the Spanish culture.


  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.

When I first arrived in Spain I didn’t believe in the idea of culture shock. It only took about two days to realize how different this country was compared to what I was used to. The work culture especially is very different. Most workplaces are less formal and when I saw my boss he would kiss me on the cheek which is a traditional spanish greeting. The people in Spain did not want to speak english to us even if they were capable. A lot of times people were nervous to make a mistake just as I was speaking spanish to native spanish speakers. It was also difficult for me to understand the accent and the different words they use with european spanish as opposed to bolivian spanish which I am used to because of my grandmother. I learned how to be less afraid of talking to people and less afraid to make mistakes in life.


  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 of the first few weeks I began my work, a coworker and I were assigned a project. He did not speak much english so it was difficult for us to communicate. Soon we both got over our fear because we realized that both of us would be making mistakes. The first week we did not get much done and our boss was frustrated with the lack of communication between the two of us. He basically told us to troubleshoot the problem and not to be nervous of one another. The next week we talked more and used google translate when one of us couldn’t figure out a word we were trying to say or how to communicate with the other. We ended up being able to finish the assignment and our boss rewarded us with that Friday off.

This experience forced me to speak spanish which in my opinion was the only way I truly learned the language, the accent, and the slang of Madrid, Spain. This helped me also be less afraid to speak instead of gesture when at the grocery store, or when ordering food, or even just when I was out and about. It also allowed me to speak with my other coworkers without being nervous, and help my one coworker significantly improve his english, which was his goal when he heard I was coming to the company for 8 weeks.

Another Ohio State student that worked with me at the same company had the same issues. We forced ourselves to only be able to communicate with one another in spanish while we were at the apartment. That way when we would mess up we wouldn’t be nervous and it forced us to learn how to say things that occur in a more natural friend to friend conversation compared to the conversations we would have normally at work.

Another interaction that I had was when I was in the park and I saw a family taking a selfie, and my normal reaction was to go over and ask if they wanted to to take a regular picture of the entire family. When I approached them I asked in English because I just wasn’t thinking and I startled them. I had to react quick on my feet as to how to pose the same question in Spanish. Once I figured out how to say it in spanish the were very grateful for the picture and said thank you in english which was really cool. Overall this project and these specific relationships and interactions really helped me grow in not being afraid to make mistakes as well as quick thinking on my feet and approaching strangers.


  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.


This transformation is significant and immensely valuable for my professional life because before I went to Spain I was scared to talk to people no matter what. I was too scared to even ask my high school teachers for a recommendation letter for college. This helped me get over my irrational fears because I saw how easy it is to accomplish things when you just talk through it and go for it. I will no longer be scared to make mistakes, because mistakes are how we learn, and mistakes in Spanish are the reason why I was able to finally communicate with my spanish coworkers.

STEP Reflection

With the funds I was given through STEP, I decided to live in Columbus, Ohio and work downtown at the Ohio statehouse. Specifically, I worked for Senator Frank LaRose of the 27th congressional district as an office page. The funds were used towards my rent and other living expenses as I lived at 86 W. Lane with three of my friends.

Throughout my time in college, it has always been my goal to live and or work in Columbus for the summer. I find that getting to know a city and its demographics works better when you have a purpose to be there. I discovered how easy it is to live on your own when you have a strong sense of responsibility. I lived in dorms for the first two years of my college career and although I was living on my own, I still had the comfort of other peers and dining halls. While living on my own in Columbus, I learned how to become self-sufficient and more frugal. Each monetary decision I made I felt responsible and more empowered to my own money. I enjoyed having my own source of income and consistently paying my own rent, despite it being covered by STEP funds. When you are given that much funding, you become more aware of where it is going and how important it is to track.

My father always stressed to my siblings and I that you “win with people”. Quite frankly I never understood what he meant until I entered a professional environment. In the statehouse, and downtown in general, it was important for me to conduct myself in a professional manor. My office days consisted of different congressional meetings and committee hearings. Each time I met with constituents, I understood how important it was to communicate in a professional, easy tone. People respond better to you when you have a well understood idea of the problem and can communicate it effectively to them. For example, the Columbus waterworks paid a visit to our office to discuss how to better their lobbying efforts in the house committees. While I obviously did not have the answers for them, it was important for me to read over memos and emails regarding the issue so I could hand the senator notes and contact information after the meeting was over. I felt empowered as an employee, not just of the state but of the city. I felt as though I could perform my civic duties on the clock and bring home valuable information.

Transportation was not an issue either because much of my income was spent on gas money. Without the STEP funds, I would have worried much more about a balanced budget for gas money and living expenses. This kind of active thinking helped me to formulate a budget that I actually still update to this day. I constantly have reminders from my bank telling me what kind of payments are reoccurring, such as rent, parking, Netflix, gym memberships, etc. STEP offered a budget checklist for us to update, so this is where that kind of mindful thinking stemmed from. Now that I have my own job at Ohio State, I realize how to decide what to focus on during my days of spending and saving. Much of this thinking came from using my own income for expenses.

Overall, this experience helped me grow more in my work place and my spending habits. Whether or not we choose to accept it, the two are linked. What we do in our workplace with indirectly affect how we spend our money. And because I was able to pay rent with the STEP funds, I could focus on more personal spending and day to day decisions. Even more so, I could focus on my work and deliberate or week-long tasks assigned to me. I have always struggled with spending and how to properly allocate enough funds to certain budgets. With the tools given to me by STEP and the funds used for my living expenses, I was constantly thinking about how to budget. I understand myself and my spending habits more deliberately now than ever before. This significant transformation has helped me in all aspects of my life. Spending less time worrying about how I am going to budget has helped me make conscious efforts in reducing my stress intake about my money circumstances. Not only that, but I can make lifestyle choices that affect me personally such as food and clothes as well as professional ones such as where I will get a job after college and where I will live. Overall this experience has helped me in the department of spending and growing my professional vantage point.

STEP Reflection

Over this past Summer, I was able to complete a transformational project aided by the funds provided by the STEP program. The project I undertook was the Student Dean’s Leadership Academy which is a program through Ohio State that consists of five developmental classes focused on fostering leadership qualities in students. Along with the five classes, my cohort of 31 that I went through this with also took on our own internships which allowed us to put into practice the skills we had learned in our classes in professional work settings.

I initially took on this project primarily because these five classes would allow me to get closer to the 150-credit requirement to take the CPA exam as I am an accounting major. These classes were negotiations, crucial conversations, developing leaders through practical exercises, introduction to organizational coaching, and lastly, principled leadership. My secondary reasons were that I wanted an internship experience I could talk about on my resume for the following recruiting season my Junior year and lastly, I wanted to spend a summer away from home where I would have to take care of myself in terms of work and cooking. When I started, the actual leadership development aspect of the program did not interest me as much as these other goals. I am a pragmatic individual and I did not expect much out of this program as I didn’t think there was much to learn about myself that I didn’t already know. Fortunately, my thinking and view of myself and the program changed as the program kicked off and I took in the course materials.

When the Summer started, my peers and I were thrown into the courses, unsure of what we were about to learn. The difference this semester was that I wasn’t learning how to apply formulas from lecture videos or being asked to explain how a business generates revenues and subtracts costs. This time, every class provided a fresh and interesting take on personal development. These classes provided snippets of information each week guided by experienced professors passionate about their teachings and all they asked of us was to think, reflect, and practice what we were learning. This format allowed me to accept the material I was provided on my own terms instead of feeling like it was being forced onto me. The courses and the information they each taught varied significantly, but the general theme that was stressed was the same and that was to become a more open-minded person who could interact with others with greater care, thought, and reason.

There were multiple aspects of my character that changed after I completed the course, of the many experiences I had, the most meaningful ones came from my internship, negotiations, crucial conversations and developing leaders through practical exercises. To start off, for my internship, I worked a general role in a small local real estate firm in Columbus called Beacon Property Management. Over the duration of my work, I didn’t gain much in term of technical skills, but it was beneficial because I was able to test out what I learned from my classes. Previously, I had only worked part time for a family business and that was a very relaxed and casual setting and one concern I had coming into this was how I would handle dealing with a less lenient employer and strict deadlines. I was able to apply tactics I learned from my courses and an example of this is being confident enough to bring up concerns with my boss when I needed to. There were certain days I needed off and before this Summer, I always had trouble bringing up that I needed more time or had conflicts with people. It was a hurdle for me to talk with my boss because she was a person of authority, but I realized it was never actually a big deal. I learned through this job that people in organizations care about you and can be understanding even if you aren’t very familiar with them.

Negotiations was my least favorite classes from the ones I took this Summer because of the professor and the workload but it was the class where I learned the most skills in terms of the materials provided. I have never been great at negotiations or coming to compromises because I often place myself in a role where I either go with the flow or I lead a team without much discussion. In negotiations, I was able to learn how to communicate with others in a way that I could fight for what I wanted but in a civil and effective way, so the other party could agree as well. One of the tactics I learned about in this class related to haggling prices when buying goods that don’t have fixed prices. The general idea is that when buying goods, I should start off with a low price knowing that I will get a counter offer that is higher. I’ve been able to apply this skill multiple times now from buying a new car over the Summer to haggling ticket prices for football games. This class is important for becoming a good leader because there will always be instances where you need to be on the better end of a deal. Being able to speak up for what you want is an important skill that many people never develop.

Crucial Conversations was one of my favorite classes because it taught me how to diffuse sticky situations with people I’m in conflict with in a calm and reasonable manner. Before this class, when I was upset with someone, I would often go silent on them, choosing to ignore them instead of interacting with them because that was easier. This class allowed me to consider different perspectives on issues in a more logical way and to express that to others. I was able to use this class for my father and sister this Summer. The two of them were in disagreement about her relationship with her significant other and I urged them to consider one another’s perspectives. I was able to get my sister to understand that everything my dad was doing was because he cared for her and wanted what’s best for her. I helped my dad realize that my sister wanted to be treated as an adult. It’s not always easy to see other’s perspectives on issues because we are caught up in our pride and don’t want to be hurt. We fear being rejected because the other person might not understand and embarrassing ourselves. This skill of being able to form our feelings and thoughts into actual words is an essential quality great leaders hold.

Lastly, the class that taught me the most about people and why people do what they want was developing leaders through practical exercises. My favorite topic in this course was to consider the goals and objectives my peers have when working on a team. Once you can align your goals with other’s goals, you can more easily come to an effective solution. This was an important realization for me because in the past, whenever I would lead teams, I often only considered what I wanted and assumed that was the best course of action. I wouldn’t make a good effort to understand what others wanted and this would lead to conflicts such as inaction from others. I would then assume it was because a person was lazy or uninterested. I’ve been able to apply this to group projects I’m in by first asking what my teammates think is the best solution and then offering my thoughts and this has helped for more streamlined solutions for the projects I’m on. After this class, my thoughts of what makes a good leader changed from “someone who has a great idea for others to accomplish an objective” to instead, being a great leader means “being someone who can best serve the needs of their constituents”.

I didn’t realize how much I needed this program until after I went through it. It was a great opportunity to learn real skills that helped develop me as a person which I would never have been able to get normally through the usual curriculum of STEM that is prioritized in our education system. I think that most people brush over personal development because no one wants to think that they are significantly flawed. It may also be because we are never exposed to this type of education growing up. We all have aspects of our character that can use a little boost especially when it’s beneficial in becoming a great leader and good person. I’ll always be able to reflect on what I’ve learned through this experience not only because of the books I’ve bought but because I can talk with the professors and the people I met through my cohort. I’ll continue to practice what I’ve learned in this program and try my best to be a mindful thinker when working with others. I think this will allow me to succeed in any environment especially in the business world and in my relationships.



For my STEP project, I worked with Air Force Research Labs in the Non- Invasive Brain stimulation branch in Dayton, Oh. I worked with various form of brain stimulation, such as tDCS, trigeminal nerve stimulation and photobiomodulation. My main focus was on creating a working memory task that could be used to test if photobiomodulation enhanced cognitive abilities in healthy humans. This research is important because the military is interested in improving the cognition and vigilance of its soldiers to increase efficiency and accuracy. During my internship, I was able to understand how to develop a successful research design, troubleshoot technology commonly used in cognitive research, such as eye-tracking and stimulation devices, and learn how to conduct statistical analysis on data.

Before starting my internship I felt the only way to conduct research was to obtain a PhD and then work for a university where you are also expected to teach classes. This was very discouraging to me because I did not want to go through seven years of school before I was able to start a career. I wanted to be able to start a family and be able to have more freedom of where I could work. Due to my preconceived notions of what it meant to be a scientist, and the life I knew I wanted to live, I felt I was not able to pursue a career in research even though I had a passion for it. I also had very little experience in research as a whole. I had no idea how to properly design an experiment that answered a research question. I also had no idea how crucial statistical analysis is for understanding your results in research. Without the proper use of stats, there is no way to know if your results are valid or if they prove your hypothesis or not.

Throughout my time at AFRL, I spoke with many people about how they ended up in their career. I found that while many people did have PhDs, a large portion of the people involved in the research process had masters or even only bachelor’s degrees. I also spoke with the people who had PhDs and found that they had first started working and started their life and then went back to pursue a higher degree.  They also told me that by working for the government they were able to gain scholarships and stipends to help pay for school. By talking to my mentors, I was able to see that I could have the lifestyle I wanted while still pursuing my passion for research.

During my internship, I also learned so much about research design. One of the problems we ran into during our project was that subjects were encoding the images provided to memorize verbally. This was problematic because this means the subjects are using a different part of their brain than what we expected. Before being exposed to research it would not have occurred to me that this would be a problem that would need to be addressed. Now, however, I understand how to check all the crucial details of an experiment before continuing the research. I also learned that troubleshooting is a very large part of research. There were many times when we would have to redesign our experiment slightly because a device was not working properly or it needed special accommodations to run properly. Due to these problems, I gained a lot of experience with troubleshooting the technology that is commonly used in neuroscience research. This experience with multiple types of technology makes me a valuable candidate for future research positions.

I also discovered how crucial a strong knowledge of data analysis is when you are trying to interpret results from data collected. For example, if you change one aspect of how you do your analysis, such as the confidence interval, then this can entirely change the way you interpret the significance of your results. Having a strong understanding of stats also can influence how you view other people’s research and allows you to view their results with a critical eye. Over the summer I learned how to conduct confidence intervals, run ANOVA tests and run T-test on data that I collected. This experience not only helped me gain research experience but it has helped me excel in my current stats class here at Ohio State.

By having this research I am now planning on pursuing a career in research with the Department of Defense. This internship also allowed me to make connections within AFRL so now when I graduate I will have a great chance to work with them as a career. My mentors also gave me plentiful advice on scholarships and stipends awarded by the DoD so that I can try to pursue higher education without the financial burden that would inhibit me. Overall, this experience showed me that my passions are obtainable and gave me the resources I need to accomplish them.


STEP Reflection

Type of Project: Internship
1. I interned in the Denver area at an institutional consulting firm that designs corporate retirement plans. I interned in the performance analytics department and assisted in updating investment returns for the consulting department to use in client meetings. Overall, my duties can be summed up as providing quarterly and ad hoc investment reporting.
2. I realized how important it is for corporations to have an investment advisor such as Cook Street that has the clients’ best interests in mind and doesn’t engage in self-dealing. Cook Street has very high standards and is a 100% employee-owned, independent, fiduciary firm. Many firms that provide similar services to Cook Street do not meet this criterion and cheat clients out of money without them knowing. By working at a firm such as Cook Street, my personal values increased as well. It reinforced my belief that life isn’t always about profit. Ethics come first which is something I saw from the top-down at Cook Street.
Personally, I realized that I want to continue to work in the financial services industry in the future. I also realized that I want to work for a firm that has a collegial and open culture so that I can continually develop professionally. By being completely away from friends and family for a summer, I was able to learn what it’s like to start in a new city. It wasn’t easy, but I gained valuable experiences that I will put into practice whenever I live in a new city in the future.
3. During my first week at Cook Street, I had education sessions with one of the workers. He made it clear from the very beginning what Cook Street’s beliefs were and how they operate as a company.
Furthermore, during each of the weekly meetings, one person would present on one of the operating principles of Cook Street. I remember how one employee presented on how he noticed another employee going above and beyond to keep things as ethical as possible.
It is interesting, because in finance, sometimes certain things are legal to do, but not necessarily ethical. Cook Street goes above and beyond by taking ethically making decisions above all.
Going to the grocery store on my own, cooking for myself, developing new friends at social events were just a few of the events that led to the transformations described in #2. Initially, these experiences put me out of my comfort zone, but as I adapted to my new environment, it became very rewarding.
4. By not only hearing the importance of ethical practices, but also observing it on a daily basis, it has instilled an even stronger moral compass in myself and will help me in all aspects of life.
It will help me when I am looking for future jobs because I will be able to better spot companies who are acting ethically. I know that a lot of companies say they act ethically.
However, that is very different from actually acting ethically as a whole. I think being able to work at a company that acts ethically is very important to my development as a professional and as a person.

Eaton Corp. Internship

My Step project was an internship at Eaton Corporation in Beachwood, OH. Here, I was a finance and accounting intern for their electrical sector comprised of $13 Billion in yearly sales. I assumed many responsibilities including creating ad hoc reports in excel, conducting month end close, and running reports in their software.


During this project, I learned numerous life changing skills. I had always wanted to see how a fortune 500 company dealt with its financial reporting. This opportunity gave me first hand insight into how this is conducted.


In addition to this I was able to apply the skills I had learned in the classroom to real world applications that will significantly affect the company. To have such a great impact on such a large scale company, was truly life changing. I was given far more responsibility than just a regular intern. I was able to use this responsibility to use my expertise in the field.


In my experience here, I was using different financial reporting and accounting software. Though learning to use this software was originally a struggle. I was soon able to master it. After learning how to use this software to its fullest extent, I was able to do my best work for the company. Learning this software was transformational for my internship experience at Eaton.


Apart from the technical part of my role, I was surrounded by very helpful and intelligent individuals who truly cared about my growth. I was regularly given one on one training and feedback on my work, which allowed me to steadily improve.


This experience directly relates to my career goals and aspirations. This is because I would like to start working at Eaton full time upon graduation. This internship is the foundation to having a full time job there.


This internship was specifically transformational because it gave me real world insight into the Finance and Accounting of a large corporation. I was able to use this experience from my prior internship to obtain my next internship. Without STEP, I would not have had the opportunity to do so. The funding completely transformed my depth of experience from none to a truly enriching internship.

Whole Body Health Internship

For my STEP project, I had an internship at a functional medicine office in Medina, OH called Whole Body Health. For two months, I worked at this functional medicine office at the front desk, at the health food store, or on the rehabilitation floor. I also shadowed the doctors while they had appointments with patients.

While this was my second summer working at Whole Body Health, the office had drastically changed from the last time I worked there. A naturopathic doctor started working there, as well as a new chiropractor and a holistic health coach. Since the office had transformed so much since I lasted worked there, I learned a lot of new information, which transformed me as well. Dr. Monzo, who is the N.D., practices a form of medicine that I had never heard of before called The King Institute Method, or TKM. He studied the bio-electromagnetic systems of the body and uses what he learned in school to holistically treat his patients.

While I have been very intrigued by holistic medicine, I also consider myself somewhat of a sceptic. The first day that I sat in on one of Dr. Monzo’s treatments, I had many questions for him and struggled to understand how his form of medicine, which lacks pharmaceutical treatment, worked. However, as the weeks went by, I saw sick patients becoming stronger and healthier. They would come up to talk to me at the front desk after their treatments and tell me all about how amazed they were that Dr. Monzo was actually helping them. That was when my idea of medicine was transformed. While I knew that I would probably never fully understand the medicine of TKM, I had a new found respect for it. I realized that, as a Physicians Assistant, I may not always fully understand the forms of medicine that are used to treat patients. However, there are many different ways to treat patients, and some forms of medicine may be just as qualified as others.

My favorite part about working at Whole Body Health was the fact that I got to do work in all places of the office. I mostly worked at the front desk. It was here that I would check in patients, file patient paperwork, make new patient portfolios, pull patients charts, and check patients out. While sometimes it was a little discouraging to be stuck up front, away from the doctors where all the magic happens, I slowly developed a liking of it. Although i I didn’t get to sit in on every treatment, I got to be the first friendly face the patients saw when they walked in, and the last friendly face they saw when they left. I often got to hear all about the patients days and was able to form professional friendships with many of them. It was always so refreshing to look at the schedule for the day and be excited to see which one of my new friends were coming in that day.

The health food store at Whole Body Health was connected to the main office and the treatment rooms. It was here that I got to restock items, help customers find what they were looking for, and check patients out. It was working here where I felt most helpful. Because of my interest of “healthy” food, I had tried a lot of the foods or supplements that Whole Body Health sold, and I was often able to give patients good suggestions on what to buy. I loved when a first-time customer would come in simply because they heard about our store and I was able to tell them all about it, acting as if I was an expert.

The rehabilitation floor was the traffic director of the office. It was here where I would shuffle in the patients and keep them busy until the doctors were ready to see them. Often times, the patients knew exactly what to do and where to go on the rehab floor, but I would set them up on the massage chairs, decompression tables, or vibe boards. Although there was a lot of tedious work when running the rehab floor, like billing charts, it served as just another place where I was able to get to know the patients and feel like I had a role as the “intern” at Whole Body Health.

Although my jobs at the office were ever-changing, I was able to see how all parts of a doctors’ office work together. I formed a respect for all of the employees at Whole Body Health, from the front desk girls to the doctors in the back. While some people may consider some roles at a doctors office less significant than others, I was able to observe each and every role and see that each one compliments the other.

The biggest thing that I took away from this internship is that, as a future Physicians Assistant, I now have a better understanding of the harmony that is a doctors’ office. Because I have had this privilege, I think that I will have a unique respect for all employees of the doctors’ office that I may work for one day.