Name: Kelsey Rafac
Type of Project: Internship
For my STEP Signature Project, I participated in an internship with Cooper Tire and Rubber Company. My position was as a Corporate Industrial Engineer. I assisted in the analysis and development of operational improvement opportunities for all the firm’s facilities. I obtained exposure to labor tuning, capacity and method analysis, plant/office layouts, process benchmarking. I also performed SMED studies to help reduce the changeover times using a Single Man Module for production.
Through this process I have learned a tremendous amount about myself. Before I assumed, I would not be treated as an equal to the other employee, only being an intern, but I was treated the same and given responsibilities as an employee. I learned to push myself out of my comfort zone. I learned it is vital to not be timid and ask questions when I am unsure about what to do or need guidance. I learned that communication is key to be successful in a work environment. If you cannot effectively communicate, it is harder for employers to respect you. I also learned to have confidence when speaking and not be afraid to add my input. It is very important to be punctual and on time for things.
One event that led me to step out of my comfort zone and take action was when I was tasked with performing SMED studies on one of the tire processes in the plant. It was a great task to start off in the plant with and give me professional experience with time studies. My task was to improve the changeover time with the tire specs. I went about this by observing and identifying the problem and finding a proper solution for it. This forced me to ask questions to different supervisors and interact with the operators. I learned to speak confidently to the operators and people who have worked there so they respected me.
Another interaction that forced me to grow, was going on a business trip with an employee. We went to Tupelo, Mississippi to work on a project in another plant of Cooper Tire. I was very uncomfortable with the situation to begin with, having never flown or stayed in a hotel room by myself before, I grew a lot through this situation. I learned to interact professionally and personally with my co-worker. It was a great experience to show me what a business trip is like and what it entails.
My last key event that helped develop me professionally, was presenting data I had collected and giving presentations. When I first began, I struggled to present data in a concise and effective manner. It was difficult for me to articulate what I was meaning to say in a concise way. Throughout my internship, I learned that not every detail is needed to present information but more so the information that is relevant and that will help the audience understand. I am glad this opportunity helped me notice this need for improvement to be able to work on myself for future endeavors.
This transformation and growth I have made throughout this process is valuable to me because it will significantly help me in the career path. I have learned how to act in a professional setting. This experience has encouraged me to learn more about my engineering field and find what I am truly passionate about within it. I have learned so much professionally that will help me, but it has also given me a greater drive to succeed academically.