My Washington Academic Internship Program Experience

Me standing on the balcony at the Department of the Interior!

For my STEP Signature Project, I completed an internship as a part of the Washington Academic Internship Program (WAIP) through the John Glenn College of Public Affairs. Through WAIP, I was a communications intern at the Peace Corps where I was primarily responsibility for curating, writing, and editing blog content for the ‘Stories’ section of the website. I also got to experience many professional development workshops, as well as study tours, policy salons, and service projects.

My experience is Washington, D.C. drastically transformed my understanding of myself. First, it was my first internship experience, and second, it was the first time I had ever lived away from home (aside from college, but then again, I am from Columbus!) for an extended amount of time. Getting the chance to live on Capitol Hill while completing my internship at Peace Corps really expanded my world-view. The national news that I would read on my Twitter feed was suddenly occurring right around the corner from where I lived! To be able to walk to places like the Supreme Court, the Capitol and the Washington Monument on a daily basis was a very surreal experience. It was also interesting to be surrounded by 29 other students who were equally driven and passionate about policy and social issues. This created a highly motivated atmosphere, and influenced me to learn, do, and see as much as I could while I was there.

WAIP was incredible, but there were definitely moments where exhaustion would catch up to me! I learned a lot about my ability to have fortitude and preserve, even when I was physically tied. I knew in the long run that this experience would carry me a long way after I left, so I continued to give it my best foot forward.

My internship had a big role to play in my personal transformation. I had never thought about how intricate a communications team is in an organization, but having that experience exposed me to all the moving parts there are to it. I personally worked with the digital/social team, but I got to learn a lot about press relations, graphic design, web design, marketing, external communications, congressional relations, and so much more. One of the coolest things I got to do with the Peace Corps was participate in a flyer drop for a recruiting event they had for Capitol Hill interns or “Hillterns.” I got to drop flyers in each congressional office, and later had the opportunity to attend the event myself. I heard Peace Corps experiences from U.S. Reps. Donna Shalala and Joe Kennedy, which even further prompted me to consider applying for the Peace Corps after I graduate.

I worked on several blog series while at Peace Corps, but one of my favorites was “Why I Joined.” I got to read and edit a blog about a Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) in Tanzania who joined to reconnect with her East African roots, as her mother was a former PCV who had met her father during her service.

Outside of my internship, WAIP gave me some incredible moments. One of them was a service trip the cohort took to the Kenilworth Aquatic Park. I ranked this experience as one of my favorites because it was really nice to be able to get away from the busy D.C. life and help create something really beautiful. Another great moment was when I got the chance to visit the Indian Embassy to learn about the History of Bollywood Cinema. This workshop was taught by the ambassador’s wife, whose passion for the topic was engaging and very pleasant to listen to. We were also provided an authentic Indian dinner and it was delicious!

I had some great opportunities to network. I met  up with several young OSU alumni who also underwent WAIP. It was great talking to them because they also have similar interest as me being former communications/ journalism majors. Seeing where they’re majors led them and the career trajectories, they’re on now gave me a lot of hope and excitement for the possibilities of my own future.

My STEP signature project was valuable for me in several different ways. I definitely think I accomplished the goal of learning more about potential career paths following graduation. Specifically, interning at the Peace Corps expanded my understanding of the world. I learned about the gravity of social injustices all over the world, and thus my interest in international relations and grassroot development work was piqued. Though I’m still uncertain of what exactly I want to do the rest of my life, I do know that following graduation, I want to participate in a global fellowship to learn more about how systemic injustices create systems of poverty, and overall help to improve conditions for marginalized communities, specifically for women and girls. Hearing about all the initiatives that PCVs take, I was inspired and now know I want to have a global experience so as to be a better change agent here in the United States.


Mount Carmel Ethics Residency

Photo from Homeless Camp in Columbus

My STEP Signature project was an internship as an Ethics Resident at Mount Carmel Health System. Primary duties included research, ethics consultant curriculum revision, and shadowing in a variety of settings. Also learned frameworks related to and methods of ethics consultation.


Through my two assigned research projects, I received a greater understanding of housing insecurity in Columbus and female genital circumcision, though the latter was less transformative. Housing insecurity in Columbus is a huge issue, but being so close to campus and not really exploring the less privileged areas of Columbus, it didn’t seem that bad.  While Columbus is better than most large cities at meeting overnight and short-term needs for shelter, the current resources do not enable social mobility. Relatively few make it into permanent housing situations for a variety of reasons. I really knew nothing going into my internship about the plight of homelessness in Columbus, other than the folks near campus who would occasionally share a conversation or ask for help meeting their needs for the day.

While I’m simplifying the transformation here, I’ve learned that there is so much more to the homeless issue. I wasn’t particularly judgmental before, but now, while I don’t have anything to give, I would be more likely to help in the future. My previous assumptions were rudimentary. The people on the street were there because of bad luck or bad choices. While that’s not necessarily false, aspects of social health, such as housing insecurity, feeds back into the more medicalized aspects of wellness and creates a perpetuating downward spiral. They’re often without the first line care and social safety net that I take for granted. This raises costs for hospitals in areas with higher homelessness, including Nationwide, OSU East, and Mount Carmel West as they provide life-saving care in the emergency department that can’t be reimbursed because these patients often lack insurance and an address to bill to. To sum up, I had some ignorance before, and because of the knowledge I was allowed to receive through an experience of my internship, I feel more compassion toward their struggle. It is so easy to pass initial judgement but getting over this quick conclusion is a process that can only be forwarded by experiencing things you don’t understand.


Being tasked with the research on homelessness as a social determinant of health for a grant project to create affordable housing was the primary change in my understanding. Simply being exposed to information on national homeless statistics over time, eviction rates, healthcare outcomes for those without housing security, and housing affordability locally and nationally made me understand how the problem was not as simple as building affordable housing or getting people off the street. Half a million or more are on the street each night and a problem that large, even if separated by city into chunks around ten thousand, is not easily solved. One eviction can make it harder to find permanent housing. Even if the person is able to get their finances in order, most landlords won’t rent to anyone with an eviction, which further complicates their day to day living.

Secondly, I was able to go out on a shadowing experience with a member of the Street medicine outreach team. The clinical team will visit homeless camps and other places like soup kitchens to provide primary care to those who normally can’t access healthcare resources outside of the emergency department. The outreach team identifies individuals living on the street or camps and scouts for illness and injury that the clinical team can treat, either by coming directly to the individual or meeting them at a place with other resources. The camps were like little tent towns with a sense of community, even though fights did occasionally break out from what I was told. I remember meeting one man in a homeless camp who didn’t want to go back to what I would consider normal living. He spent his days fishing and living on substances. In that, he was happy. Someone being satisfied with a low social standing was foreign to me. I’m grateful for what I have, but part of my academic path is a social climb. Everyone in my family finished undergrad, but only one finished graduate school. The man of note’s past is completely foreign to me, but I find comfort in what I have now as well, so perhaps his comfort is not as foreign as it seems. While the differences are profound, perhaps there is more in common between us than the research would imply. This bolstered a tiny thought I had: I don’t know everything and part of practicing ethics is understanding just that. Overcoming my biases is critical if I am going to practice clinical ethics and be tasked with researching or exploring sensitive situations firsthand.

My second research project, on the sociocultural aspects of female genital cutting (FGC) was a chance to really apply this epistemic humility and test my ability to handle topics that might make me or anyone else uncomfortable. Like homelessness, certain parts of FGC are hard to look at. Statistical research and justification often collected through interviews were the easy part, despite the fact that these people often dealt with long term complications due to going through with the procedure. Reading about the actual process and seeing photographs and illustrations of the process was much more difficult. In Somalia, where FGC is almost universal, girls as young as four will have a very sensitive part of their body changed for cosmetic conformity and the intention of maintaining sexual purity. Modern medical practices, like anesthesia and stitches that dissolve, are not to be found. These young girls are tied down, cut up, and sewn back together without any anesthesia. Chances of infection are very high, but without this uniformity, girls lack social power. As well, they come to know their bodies this way for better or worse. One Somali woman who gave birth at Mount Carmel wanted her body restored to the familiar.

Condemning the practice of FGC or begging or drug use in homeless populations is quick and easy but does not do anything to fix the problem on a societal or individual level. Morally neutral language is so important to any productive discussion. Everyone will have their own positions and judgements, but working beyond bias to find a more practical and fitting solution than the solutions offered at the extremes is part of the unwritten duties of a healthcare ethicist. They are often brought into consult in sensitive situation, but the recommendations they make will be affected by their own opinions outside of what ethical directives they follow. To further a healthcare system’s goal of providing the best care, an ethicist must do their part. Developing this understanding of people over problems and considering all perspectives is one that takes a long time to develop. I hope these research and field experiences stay with me in my future academic and professional career.


Although this is just a start, the internship is a springboard to my future professional goals. I hope to complete a JD and a PhD in medical ethics or philosophy. I’d prefer to get them at the same time, but my pacing will be determined in the future. Although I’d consider myself to be mature, healthcare has a side that can be hard to look at and work with. Following the path I intend on pursuing will bring me eye to eye with that side on many occasions. Being able to evaluate information objectively despite a gruesome nature is difficult. While I was a little uncomfortable, I didn’t run from any part of that experience. Additionally, housing insecurity as an influencer of health is now one of my research interests. If I get an opportunity to explore it further, I would take it wholeheartedly. I can’t say I have any interest in being on the clinical side of street medicine, but being in a research role to direct care or argue for additional resources has appeal, particularly under the systematic lens of urban planning.


Supply Chain Internship at Baltimore Aircoil Company

STEP Post-Project Reflection

               My STEP signature project was a summer internship. I worked as a supply chain intern in Jessup Maryland for Baltimore Aircoil Company. For the internship, I worked on pricing for the upcoming fiscal year, explored company cell phone plans, and worked on freight data analyzation.

I think I transformed in multiple different ways throughout my STEP project. I learned how to be a professional as my project was the first internship I’ve had. I also learned how to be more organized and business etiquette in terms of scheduling meetings as well as emailing and calling people. In addition, I learned to network as well. Overall, the internship helped provide me more confidence moving forward as I pursue a professional career and was an experience I enjoyed greatly.

I was able to attend a meeting with my supply chain team and a team from a supplier company. We went through and did a quick improvement brainstorming session to help eliminate waste at the Baltimore Aircoil Company plant. We first went into the plant in groups, where we observed processes going on in the plant. Then we all came together to have an open discussion of ideas of how to eliminate waste. Finally, I learned how business relationships are so important to both companies, and that there can be more valuable aspects to a relationship between businesses outside of money.

Baltimore Aircoil Company, as part of the internship, has the interns set up meet and greets with the corporate leadership team at the corporate location. This was extremely helpful because it allowed me to ask them questions and what has gotten the success that they’ve been able to achieve over their career. I can now take their advice and apply it to my life to try to kickstart my career and achieve success.

Baltimore Aircoil Company also encourages a lot of collaboration across departments. I learned to reach out to people who weren’t in my apartment to help to find solutions to what I was working on. This helped to teach me the value of working with others, and that collaborating is more efficient than working on something alone. This also helped me to view and understand the business from multiple different angles to see how everything functions together to be a successful business as a whole.

This relates to my future plans of getting a job with a company after college. I learned what it was like to work at a company, specifically a corporate office. I learned what the atmosphere was like and the business etiquette that comes with having a job with a company. I also learned other key soft skills, such networking, communication, and collaboration. Overall, my summer internship was extremely helpful in developing and furthering my career aspirations and business skills.

Alyssa’s Valuable Hospital Experience-STEP Signature Project

View of Nationwide Children’s Hospital at the end of one of my 12-hour shifts.

Hi there!

I’d like to share a little bit about my transformative summer through OSU’s Second-year Transformational Experience Program (STEP). During the last summer of my OSU undergraduate education, I felt the overwhelming need to give back to the Columbus community that has shaped my life and career goals. With the help of STEP, I was able to work as a Patient Care Assistant (PCA) at Nationwide Children’s Hospital (NCH) and Wexner Medical Center, while also volunteering in the Infusion Clinic at NCH. Additionally, I shadowed a Family Medicine Nurse Practitioner in Circleville and a Registered Nurse in the Emergency Department at Grant Hospital to continue learning about the career I will soon be entering upon the conclusion of my fourth and final year here at The Ohio State University.

Initially, I entered my STEP signature project with the idea that I had to achieve outstanding success–I had to be the employee that is known by all, the volunteer that units request, and the student shadow that asked the most intellectual questions. I wanted to learn how to be successful in pediatric and postpartum nursing as I hope to pursue these areas after graduation. As I continued to work with children, young adults, new mothers, and newborns at these two very established and innovative hospitals, I realized that I have chosen a career and life in which I will require compassion and selflessness rather than a need for recognition. This was a summer experience in which I realized how little my achievements and my previous success matter to real members of a community. What do I mean by this? When I was feeding a newborn or taking a child’s vitals, I was not asked to share my GPA or letters of recommendation. When I was walking a patient through the hallways, they did not wonder what achievements were listed on my resume. They only saw me–my character, my compassion, and my kindness.

Now, let me clarify. In no way am I saying that the achievements and success I have worked hard to obtain are meaningless. Rather, I learned through this experience that the way I use my past success to represent my knowledge, school and community is what will truly matter in my career as a nurse. Whether we realize it or not, we all play an integral part in caring for others (no matter how small it may seem). At the beginning of the summer, I valued my future role as a nurse far above my role as a PCA because I felt that learning how to be the best nurse and achieving success as such was the only way I could make a difference in the lives of my patients. Throughout the summer, however, I learned that each and every member of a healthcare team works their absolute hardest not for their own recognition, but because they find value in seeing their patients achieve the best possible outcome.

And that is what I value too.

So what led me to this revelation? The relationships that I formed with my patients and co-workers. To see how hard every individual must work to keep a patient safe, comfortable, and cared for is astounding. I quickly found the importance of my role as a PCA, but noted all summer long how it differed from that of the nurse, nurse practitioner, respiratory therapist, and so on. Seeing how these individuals worked independently as well as in a team setting was truly inspiring. On the particularly hard days, I was able to learn how to push through and keep my spirits up just as the nurses did during their 4 or 5pm “lunch” breaks. I saw how they were not only involved in their patients’ lives but in the lives of each other as well.

Through these observations, I quickly realized that in my career, I am never alone–my success is not my own. Instead, I will forever have the honor of sharing my successes with others; I will always work alongside a caring team to achieve great outcomes for our patients. This idea carried me for a majority of the summer, before a devastating loss. A long-term patient on our unit passed away–my first experience with hospital death. While I had not worked on the unit long enough to personally know the patient, I saw the strength of those who were now sharing not only in their success, but their grief. Again, I realized that sharing in compassion would take me much farther than a pat on the back and prize for a job well done–something I saw reflected in the attitudes of my summer co-workers.


Recognizing this change in myself has opened my eyes to a life of possibilities. No longer consumed by a need to impress (a need to be successful), I am prepared to work hard and share in joy and grief with many others. I’ve realized that being obsessed with glory and recognition has kept me in my own “safety net” afraid to venture out into the unknown. If you had asked me at the beginning of the summer where I pictured myself in ten years, it would have been exactly the same as my life right now. It would include the comfort of Ohio, the familiarity of Columbus and its wonderful hospitals. And while I know that I could lead a successful, happy life continuing to serve the Columbus community, I am no longer afraid to leave Ohio and learn from other health systems.

Living on my own and focusing on my work and shadow experiences, I was able to provide care for patients in my own Columbus community while learning the skills necessary to care for patients all across the country with similar experiences. I was able to communicate with patients, nurses, and healthcare team members. Through all of these shifts and scheduled hours, often in the middle of the night, I found myself thinking about the organization and administrative policies that are set in place to protect all of these individuals. I became extremely proud of the work we were achieving, and found a valuable life skill within myself: flexibility. Healthcare is always adapting, much like my life. In just a few short months, I will be graduating from college–hoping that I have the correct set of tools to take on life’s next challenges. This project showed me that even at my most prepared, I will still rely on the knowledge and strength of others to achieve success. I am ready to move beyond my comfort zone to meet new people and learn from their experiences while sharing my own. As I near my graduation in the Spring, it has been an important discovery to understand that success is not based on my own praise and recognition, but rather it is based on my ability to share my strengths and depend on others in my weaknesses.

Thank you to all of those that have impacted my life this past summer. I am grateful to have learned these lessons. I am ready to venture out, and I am hopeful that my return to Ohio in the future is marked by shared successes that can further strengthen the Columbus community and our knowledge of health, wellness, compassion, and bedside care.

Thank you,


Walsh Internship Summer 2019

  1. Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project.

Throughout the summer, I had an engineering internship at Walsh Construction Group in the Quality Department in Chicago, Illinois. I had the opportunity to work on tasks including creating an educational video library, analyzing and evaluating Quality Incident Report trends, and more. I traveled to a variety of construction sites to lead education video recordings, conduct quality evaluations, and gain industry exposure, learning about the operation of construction equipment and processes.

  1. What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project?

During the internship, I learned a lot about myself and what type of career I want to pursue in the engineering field. Going into the internship, I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do in engineering once I graduated, and as a mechanical engineering student, I have the opportunity to explore different careers within engineering, but this summer helped me find a more specific interest. During the 3 months that I was at Walsh, it became clear that construction is full of learning opportunities. The internship was extremely helpful as I’m going into my senior year at Ohio State, so when looking for a full time job I can explain why I’m passionate about the construction industry and what I learned about it. This was not only transformational to my career but also transformational to myself because I have a better understanding of how I see my future playing out in the construction industry.

After working the typical 40 hour a week schedule for the first time, I feel like I became more independent and responsible, especially when dealing with the commute from the suburbs to downtown Chicago. Taking the train and planning around the schedule was a big change from what I’m used to and gave me a great glimpse at the typical engineering job schedule. I was also exposed to long work days on the job sites which I had not previously experienced.

  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?

The most important thing for me before starting the internship was being able to apply the knowledge I’ve been learning in classes for the past 3 years to what I’d be doing throughout the summer. I knew I had wanted to pursue a career in engineering since I liked problem solving and the information I learn in classes, but I wanted to be able to connect what I learned at Ohio State University to what I would learn at Walsh. I expected and was excited to learn much more by being on construction sites and experiencing real world engineering applications, and being able to see how it compared to my college classes was one of the most transformational parts of my experience.

Working at Walsh, I was given many opportunities to network and be completely involved in the company even though I was only there for 3 months. The first day of the internship, I was given a mentor in my department to help ensure that my internship was a great experience as well as answer any questions I had, making the summer a great experience. Having Arbra as a mentor helped me adjust really well and feel comfortable in the office, which was extremely important for the start of my internship. The internship program as a whole was incredible at helping me become more involved at Walsh and on construction sites with different events for all (almost 100) interns. This included a job site tour of 4 construction sites, an equipment yard tour where we got to try out lots of equipment, and an end of the summer White Sox game for interns and our mentors. These events allowed me to meet many other interns and learn about their interests and experiences in the construction industry as well as meet many of their mentors. I also had the opportunity to complete the OSHA 10-Hour Safety Training, which gave me great insight on construction standards.

A very transformative part of the summer was my overall involvement at Walsh, not just including the internship program. I was able to participate in departmental meetings and national Quality conferences as well as communicate with those working on job sites on how to implement a culture that values quality. One of the main activities I was able to get involved in was the Walsh softball league, which consisted of 15 teams of 12 players all within the company. We had 8 games throughout the summer with different teams, which allowed me to get to know my team really well and meet the players on the other team. Being able to talk to many people with a variety of jobs within the company was really transformational because I learned a lot about what they do and their goals for the future. Lastly, Walsh held an end of the summer picnic for all employees to attend, which was a great way to end my internship and talk to people about my goals for my future within construction or within the company for a possible future position. Overall, I had an excellent experience and learned a great deal about myself and construction with the help of peers and mentors.


  1. Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life?

This change is extremely valuable to my life because it set up a great foundation for my entire future. At Ohio State, students strive to gain experience to boost their professional development skills, and STEP allowed me to do so while making connections that will last throughout my career. This transformation of becoming more accustomed to a professional environment was extremely valuable to boost my career right out of college. Ohio State stresses that students attempt to gain any experience in their field possible before graduation in order to have a successful career, and I was able to do so and learn about my preferences within my field. Without my growth as an engineering student because of Walsh, I wouldn’t be able to graduate with a direct career path in mind.

John He’s Bank of America Internship

Over the summer of my Junior year, I had a summer internship with Bank of America for 10 weeks, from June.3rd to Aug.9th 2019, in Charlotte NC. I applied for this internship program in August 2018, interviewed through September and received an offer in December. This project fits into the Internship category of the STEP program, and I’m glad to be able to finish the internship with the intellectual and financial assistance I gained from STEP.

The preparation of my STEP project, which in my case is the applications to internships, exerted a very profound impact on my understanding of myself and the American working environment. As an international student, gaining an internship opportunity is a very hard objective under the increasingly strict immigration regulations. Over the entire first semester of my junior year, I had been constantly applying for internship opportunities and doing interviews with companies. It was a very stressful time mentally and even physically. Overtime, I applied to nearly 200 roles from the financial, IT and consulting industries. Filling out applications, revising resumes and receiving rejection emails was an everyday sequence to me at that time. In fact, I believe most of my job applications were rejected due to the visa sponsorship issue, which made me even more disappointed. Nevertheless, I never gave up and kept looking for the tiniest opportunities. Fortunately, thanks to my affiliation with a CSE-related major (Data Analytics), I was eventually able to secure an internship with Bank of America.

Through the process, I had been constantly in touch with my STEP advisor, Dr. Minru Li, who supported me a lot mentally. In our conversations, we discussed how to better express my personality and capabilities, and more importantly, how to convert my identity as a Chinese student from a cultural disadvantage to a unique advantage over other candidates. Specifically, we discussed similarities and differences between the Chinese and American cultures and philosophies, and how to take advantage of my understanding of these ideas in conversations. Also, the four Professional Development Co-Curricular Programs I participated during my Sophomore year also supported me in various aspects, such as enriching interview experiences and effectively communicating with Data. Moreover, I really benefited a lot from the living off-campus session, because I was able to negotiate with my landlord to rent me the apartment for merely three months, which was unusual for the area I eventually lived in.

My role in Bank of America is Global Technology Analyst, and over the summer I have focused on project management, data remediation and database automation to support the bank’s technology developments and operations. This was indeed a very solid internship: I learned a lot about the American working culture and etiquettes; the projects I’ve been involved with were intellectually interesting to me; I enjoyed the working environment in the bank’s technology space. The only downside for this internship is that it was not quite related to my dream job, which is a quantitative analyst/researcher. Influenced by my major background of Finance and Data Analytics, I wanted to deal with the financial markets and the modeling side of the bank. However, most quant jobs either require a master’s degree from applicants or do not sponsor applicants’ visa for undergraduates, both of which make me ineligible. Although this was a hard truth for me to swallow, it strengthened my belief to take things slow and take advantage of my work after graduation as a gap year before pursuing a graduate degree. I think not rushing to get a graduate degree will definitely make my thoughts clearer and prompt me make a better decision regarding the graduate programs I eventually would apply to.

Besides my job duties, I was able to network with my colleagues extensively across Bank of America, especially with the OSU alums and quantitative analysts in the bank. It was my first time actually networking with professionals, and I was thrilled to find out how kind and friendly people could be in terms of helping the youngsters if we could show our modesty and desire to learn. Moreover, this was the first time I lived in a city other than Columbus within America, and I was amazed by the Buckeye alumni network and how the bonding could start just by talking about High Street. More importantly, from my coffee chats throughout the summer, I gained a decent overview of different functionalities and job requirements within the quantitative field of the bank. Besides banking knowledge, I heard a lot of their life stories and career choices and started to actually picture my own life and career plans.

After graduation, I will return to Bank of America to continue working as a Technology Analyst for one year or two, go to graduate school to learn more about Data Science or Financial Engineering, and then rejoin the American workforce. I’m currently planning to stay in the US at least for the next 5 years in my life, because I found myself a fit for the American working culture. I’m glad that I have independently come up with this plan based on my experience and knowledge. It is truly something special in my life.

This summer was the most transformational one for me in my life, because I lived by myself far away from my parents and friends, earned salaries and initiated connection with the real society, not just the campus. Also, I had an awesome experience as an intern and has planned out my future. Growing up as the only child in my family, my parents had more influence on me than everything else; also, from primary school to college, I have always been a good student, and thus everything happened seemed to be so natural and pre-determined. Although I really loved my childhood and teenage years, and I am satisfied with most of the decisions my family made in terms of schooling, I had never actually made a decision 100% independently. This internship, from the fierce application to the workplace adaptation, from living alone to extensively networking with others, really boosted my confidence to find a good living upon graduation. My parents, my friends are all proud of my accomplishment, and I can’t wait to share my experiences to help others make better decisions.

Ana’s STEP Research Experience Summer 2019

1. Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project.

My STEP Project featured the beginning of my undergraduate senior thesis project in developing cellular targeting technology therapy for breast cancer. In my third year at OSU, I proposed an undergraduate research thesis for Dr. Gallego-Perez’s NanoMedicine Lab to carry out during my final fourth year. Applying my STEP funds towards this opportunity enabled me to receive the necessary training and experience in lab work over the 2019 summer that would provide an advantage to me in pursuing my project in during the school year with some already developed skill sets.

2. What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project?

My STEP experience grew and developed me as a rising scientist. When I first entered the lab, I was timid and lacking in confidence in my scientific ability, because I had never worked in a biomedical engineering research lab before. I was overwhelmed by the project I had worked so hard to propose, and I often lost faith in myself whenever a mistake occurred. It was difficult for me to through this phase of doubt and negativity, as I was not used to having to repeatedly perform procedures that would almost always fail only to get positive results after perfecting my methodology. I soon learned that improving my performance would require not only following the protocol but have an understanding of what is occurring in each step. I also learned to separate the idea of equivocating my ability to do something with the outcomes of my experiments: science is not a clear-cut field and many things can influence your outcomes, most of which you may not have direct control over (or even fully understand). By the end of my summer research experience, I had performed a variety of procedures multiple times, and developed an efficient method on approaching and understanding protocols.

3. 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?

When I first began my project in May, I had little knowledge of the practical side of performing biomedical research. I was very ambitious and attempted to prepare myself for the lab work by deciphering the scientific literature I guessed would provide me the instruction I needed. However, I soon learned that there exist a vast amount of types of protocols and procedures which are unique to each laboratory. Reading another lab’s documented procedure would not serve me any clarification on what steps I needed to perform and understand. When I had my first gene isolation protocol handed to me in the lab, I was overwhelmed at how many steps were involved and the different types of reagents I needed to use. I would try and fail, many times, without a clue as to why I end up with the same (unusable) result. However, with time and help from graduate students that provided insightful explanation, I was able to overcome this and to avoid making the same mistakes in the future.

One typical workspace set up in the lab for harvesting tissues from animal studies. Having your space set up properly and in a work-flow environment improves speed and reduces risk of mistakes!

My relationship with my graduate student project advisor greatly influenced my development as an early scientist. A lack of confidence in skills and ability cannot serve anyone well in a starting position, and she could see that I was stuck in this depreciative cycle and would not be able to make progress due to it. I was challenged every day I came to lab to metacognitively think through the procedures I performed and analyze each step, in order to think for myself scientifically. I also practiced designing my own experiments, applying my background knowledge to work with concepts she would help me understand. I learned a great deal from working with her over the summer, as I have become more comfortable performing extensive experiments and gained confidence in scientific ability. I am grateful for her guidance, and I look forward to continue learning from her mentorship throughout my project.

The skills and confidence I acquired from working in the lab also enabled me to help train the incoming undergraduate research volunteers to the lab. From this, I discovered my excitement in communication information about science and research in an accessible and understandable language to people who may be first coming across it. I am passionate to share about the work I am doing and get others interested and or involved in science! This other side of research, communication of goals and how we aim to accomplish them using the scientific method has helped direct me towards continuing a career in academic research.

4. Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life?

My experience working the summer on my undergraduate thesis project clarified my career aspirations to pursue graduate school in biomedical engineering research. Although I have only just begun with my research experiments, this project has been the most rewarding experience I have been a part of in my time at OSU. My fascination in biomedical research has grown exponentially, as well as my respect for the scientific community for all their endeavors and investment in educating undergraduate students like me who want to pursue a scientific career.

Ireland Internship at

STEP Reflection Post

Victoria Cartagena


1) For my STEP Signature Project I traveled to Dublin, Ireland for the Fisher Internship Program for June and July. I was a Digital Marketing Intern at which was an innovation studio and marketing agency. My duties included community management, campaign creation, public relations, data collection, and technology consulting!

2) While I was living in Europe for the two months of my internship, my understanding of running a business shifted. My goal of my internship was to work at a small company to gain exposure to small business entrepreneurship. The company I worked for was only a company of 12 people, yet they have been around for almost 10 years while acquiring and keeping some major clients like Volkswagen, Huawei Mobile, Greyhound, Clickandgo, and Benecol. I always thought of business as serious with minimal social interaction during work hours. However, Irish companies take a true interest in employee engagement and encourage friendship. Our office space was one huge table with everyone in the company, even one of my bosses who was Chief of Design. As an intern, I sat next to him and was able to ask direct questions about marketing and design which really helped me understand some of Connector’s business decisions.

3) Besides the work I was assigned, the most rewarding experience I had at Connector was getting to know my co-workers and CEO. When I walked in on my first day, I was very nervous. I was the only American in the office and I didn’t know what stereotypes or assumptions I was walking into. However, getting to know all my coworkers really changed my perspective of working abroad. They had many questions about things like Walmart (a true phenomenon by their standards) but respected my background as an Ohio State business student. I worked with many Brazilians and people from Ireland that dreamed of working or studying in America, and that really opened my eyes to the fact I’m blessed to have the opportunity to be at a school as amazing as OSU. Talking about my home to my co-workers truly made me realize I need to take full advantage of everything offered and never take it for granted! Also, personally getting to know my CEO allowed me to ask him personal questions about how he started his business and he was able to give me great advice about entrepreneurship that you wouldn’t hear from studying business in a classroom.

Activities that was transformative at work was my campaign pitch to L’Oreal, my presentation to the board of directors of a major Irish car company, and dealing with the social media backlash of Connector’s Bin of Old Behaviours. On my second day as an intern, I was invited to a brainstorm meeting for a revamp campaign creation for L’Oreal. They wanted to remake an old campaign to a new slogan “you’re worth it”. I pitched an idea of the idea of a mother and daughter doing makeup together with the slogan “share the moment, it’s worth it” which was voted the top idea! Our designers created prototypes to show to the company and I was able to sit in on the meeting to discuss which of three ideas presented was the best. The second activity was when my boss asked me to gather information about competitors of a Irish car company. I researched the number of followers they had on each social media page, the tone of the company, what was their most popular post styles, and how active they are with employee engagement. I presented my findings to the board of directors who said I did a great job, which was such a memorable moment for me! The last and most eye-opening activity was when Connector launched a website called Bin of Old Behaviours. It was a software that searched for homophobic slurs in your Twitter account to allow the user to “bin” the old tweet while posting an apology tweet acknowledging the old behavior. I worked for a week to research gay journalists to help promote the website. Once we released the website and sent out a press release, we waited for support. The next day, we checked the Connector Twitter to see hundreds of tweets of backlash. Connector was dedicated to crisis management that day, which was bad but awesome to witness! I helped create an excel sheet with all the tweets, their tone, the group they were in (for example: religious hater), and the whole team helped type responses to each one! I’ll never forget that experience, because I was there from the beginning to the sad end when we decided to stop promoting the website.

I have a personal goal of becoming an Instagram influencer for promotion and advertising. As a marketing major, I’ve always had an interest in influencer strategy. I was able to directly help and consult with various technological advancements that Connector was developing. One of them was called Influencer Checker. It was one of the most amazing things I’ve seen in a long time. It is a website that gives statistics, predictions, and summaries of Instagram influencers for companies to pick which ones have the right reputation and aesthetic they are searching for. Marketing managers usually need to comb through hundreds of influencers, check their captions and likes, which takes up a lot of time. This website does that just by typing in a username. That was truly a transformational experience to be a part of being I want to try to be an influencer one day. I was also able to do small-scale modeling for major companies like Huawei and Vitropics.

4) I believe this experience was life changing for the fact I was thrown into adult, working life abroad. As a financially dependent student, I never have experienced working full-time. I also have never lived outside the country. Combining both was terrifying for me at first, even though I have traveled a great deal. I set a goal for myself to prepare lunch every day and learn how to meal prep, which I can now proudly say I’m very comfortable with. I had another personal goal of maintaining my weight as well and took advantage of the gym right near my dorm. As for my academic goals, I took notes of key aspects I learned that related to my schoolwork. I was able to sit next to our Chief of Design who, whenever I had a question about business or marketing, would answer it in full detail. One of the most memorable things I learned was how to cater a social media message to a certain audience. I’ll use what I learned to enhance my future career as a marketing manager in the future. I also enjoyed this experience a lot because it made me realize I don’t want to do social media account management as a career. Without this experience, I might not have realized that until it was too late, so thank you STEP for allowing me to explore the beautiful country of Ireland and work for an amazing company I’ll never forget!

Whirlpool Internship May 20- August 9 STEP Reflection

  1. Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project. 

During my internship at Whirlpool, I was a part of the Aesthetics Engineering team for Vertical Axis (VA) Laundry. In this role, I was in charge of providing the background data for a consumer study to determine the engineering parameters for new washing machine lids. I also completed the Production Part Approval Process (PPAP) for different aesthetic parts on washing machines.


  1. What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project? 

Before interning at Whirlpool, I had never been a part of an engineering team in a corporate environment. It was more fast-paced than I had expected, and I enjoyed being a part of the product development process. However, I did not expect to be on the mechanical engineering side of things. While I thought the product development process would be what I wanted to do, I now believe I would enjoy being on a team that works outside of product development. At my next company, I want to work in product innovation and try to find the next big thing. I think this will allow me to be more creative and work with advanced materials, instead of rushing to get a product to consumers.

I also felt a lot less out of place as a woman engineer than I thought I would. Whirlpool puts a lot of emphasis of diversity and inclusion, and even though there weren’t many women from the older generation of engineers, the young professionals were almost 50% women. It was so neat to be able to look around the office and see visible change. I built a strong network of other women engineers, both full time and interns, who made me feel confident and like I belonged.


  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? 

The product development process allows very little room for error. There is a strict timeline that moves through different checkpoints in order to release new products one right after the other. I always thought that innovation happened during product development, but product development is just putting the puzzle together. When Whirlpool leadership goes into the room to create the guidelines for a new project, they draw from a bank of innovations that were already validated by the Advanced Development team. When I got to see the work that the Advanced Development team did, I knew it was exactly what I wanted to do. They work on a much smaller scale with teams made up of specialists from every discipline, charting the course for the company all the way through 10 years in the future. One of the best parts of my internship was going to the Future Product Expo, an annual conference that Whirlpool puts on for its top investors to confirm their confidence in the direction of the company. After the investors leave, they open the exhibits up to employees. I can’t wait to have some of the innovations I saw there in my kitchen!

Additionally, within product development, very little materials science is done. Just like the innovations, the materials are selected during the concept phase, and the product development teams just make them work. Especially for a company like Whirlpool, whose machines are made up of hundreds of different parts, most of those parts are made by external suppliers. The suppliers do all the materials development, but it is Whirlpool’s job to make sure those materials work in their products and to know what new materials different suppliers can provide. The group that does this work is composed of experts in specific fields of materials, like metals, glass, and polymers. This is also work I know I would really enjoy, since it involves working with people and bringing the latest materials innovations to a consumer product.

The work that I was doing on the Aesthetics team felt mostly like fighting fires. Aesthetics engineers bridge the gap between the industrial designers and the engineers that make the internal moving pieces. Aesthetic pieces must also conform to craftsmanship standards to make sure the machines look cohesive and prevent consumers from tinkering too much with internal workings. It was great working on a team that touched so many different aspects of the laundry team, but I was mostly just checking suppliers’ work and double-checking CAD specifications. Unfortunately, the work that I was doing was very real day-to-day work that an engineer at Whirlpool does. After working within a corporation that does both fast-paced work and long-term product strategy, I saw that product innovation is the happy medium between the academic research I have done in the past and the product development work I did during my internship.

Throughout this learning process, I had an amazing mentor who was also a woman engineer. She was only 28 and just starting to move her career towards people management, so I was her first intern that she managed. I wouldn’t say we were friends, since she was for all intents and purposes my boss, but she was dedicated to making sure I had the best internship possible. She set me up with networking connections all around the company and took time for me whenever I needed it. Most importantly, she was honest about her career at Whirlpool and was open to talking about the challenges she had faced as a woman in the workplace. I never felt alone or lost at work because of her, and I hope to someday be the mentor to another young female engineer that she was for me.


  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.

When I left my research assistant position after Sophomore year, I felt that engineering might not be for me. This internship was a chance for me to see another side of engineering and hopefully find something that I could see myself doing after graduation. I went into this summer worried that I wouldn’t want to pursue any engineering career paths after working so hard to get an engineering degree. I was also nervous that I wouldn’t be prepared to do real engineering work.

I left this internship happy and relieved to have found a path within engineering that I am excited about and to know that everything I have learned as made me ready to enter the workplace. I was even able to confidently decide that the Whirlpool rotational program wasn’t the right fit for me because of its heavy emphasis on mechanical and electrical engineering. However, I really valued Whirlpool’s culture of diversity and inclusion, especially within engineering. I am thankful to know what a good environment looks like, since I believe I will be able to tell whether a company is a good place for me to start my career as a woman engineer. Now that I know what to look for, the search for my first full-time job seems much less intimidating. In fact, I am looking forward to seeing all the possibilities that this next chapter in my life holds.

Left: INNOVA Case Competition Team

Right: World of Whirlpool visit


STEP – Internship – Emerson Climate Technologies

My STEP project took place at Emerson Climate Technologies where I was a material analyst co-op. My job entailed communicating with suppliers from all over the world and locally, addressing inventory concerns related to accuracy and handling personal relationships with everyone I met and dealt with.


The biggest purpose of the internship was so that I could gain work experience with a large company. I certainly gained a lot of experience. I learned that there are a lot more factors to take into consideration when working with a large company. Being at the bottom of the food chain you learn to set your goals and priorities within a company. You can fade into the background, become just a number and be complacent with your job, or you can take advantage of the opportunities you have available to you. I decided to take advantage of my opportunities.

While at Emerson I got to work hand in hand with multiple groups of the organization, from operations, engineering, human resources, finance/accounting and upper management. While working with these groups I learned to take advantage of any knowledge provided to me and to also pay attention to the people and how happy they seemed at their jobs. I learned that even with a highly stressful job that you must take task day by day, with an outlook toward long term goals and that you can only do the best that you can do. That doesn’t mean to slack off, it means to give your best effort and to try and impress with every job presented to you. I learned to take advantage of my opportunities given to me.



My changing experiences at Emerson came about over time when I did not necessarily realize that they were occurring but when I reflected about my time there, I realized that I was being changed by those around me. My changing moments came when there was a challenge in my path, a mentor to guide me and an opportunity to work as an individual.

One moment that changed me the most was when the materials team discovered we had an inventory issue with our screws. We were told that we were out of these screws, but our system said we had more than plenty to keep production rolling for a few weeks. My job was to determine exactly how many screws did we had in the plant. I had cycle counting training prior to this experience and had done well finding out why we were having inventory issues. However, this job challenged me to a greater extent. I counted all the screws at the lines, in our racks and any other place they were at before. But I did not count them properly, I was never informed of scales that can weight count small objects like screws, so on the first day I tried counting roughly 100,000 screws by hand and obviously came up empty handed. I tried the second day to be more efficient with my route and I discussed with my superiors how to count these parts better and that’s when I discovered the weight scale.

I was able to count a lot more effectively and I came up with an answer that was shocking to the team. We had way more screws on hand than we should have almost double our inventory. So how could we be short of screws? Well, the had me get another count on the third day and my answer came back the same. After digging into the issue and getting supervisors involved, we discovered the line workers were using the wrong screw and they were calling for the wrong screw to use in place of the correct screw.  In order to confirm this, I now had to count the other screws as well… I was growing a little impatient running around the plant hunting down tiny screws and not feeling like I was getting anywhere. But I learned very valuable lessons about my job that I can take anywhere. 1) try to be as efficient as possible (working smarter), while also working hard. The second thing I learned is use all the available resources and don’t be afraid to ask for help. I must try and work on projects on my own however if it is faster to gain knowledge and more skill to accomplish a job that is the route to take.

This internship taught me many other lessons, such as how to conduct oneself in a meeting, how to teach others, how to supervise, and many others. I feel that I can pursue a lot of career fields, whether with a large corporation or a small business, because I have the mentality of working hard but also working smart.



This transformation has been extremely valuable to me because I feel confident in going into new situations and learning or figuring out the best methods to solve issues. I believe I have gained a lot better personal skills dealing with people of all walks of life. This experience will help me in the future as a student by prioritizing my studying load and finding out what ways I learn best. This will also help me with my future career, where I would like to be a financial planner that helps all types of people accomplish their financial goals.


Image result for Emerson Climate Technologies Sidney Ohioimage: Overview of Emerson Climate Technologies in Sidney OH. Photo Credit: