My STEP Signature Project was an internship with The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company world headquarters in Akron, Ohio. I worked in the Global Procurement department and had the opportunity to experience a summer of what it would be like to work and live “in the real world” where I rented an apartment by myself and went to my job 7:30AM – 4:30PM every day.
My view of myself transformed through two main aspects over the summer. One through my personal habits and another through my professional development. Having no official obligations every Saturday and Sunday, and no homework or assignments to complete when I got home from work every night, I quickly realized that I had plenty of time for exercise and home cooking. This led me to undergo my first change in healthy habit development. Every Sunday I would go to the grocery store and come home with food for the week and I began to meal prep my lunches every week. My lunches always consisted of some kind of protein, a serving of white rice, and some kind of vegetable. Eating consistently balanced lunches and dinners along with exercising three times per week really boosted my energy throughout the day, and I saw improvements in my stature as well.
As for my professional transformation, being free of the stressors of school related tasks allowed me to really focus on work when I went to work, and truly relax when I was not at work. During the internship, I had a mid-performance review, and a final performance review. In my mid-performance review, my supervisor gave me feedback about how I could be more confident in the things I am doing and how I shouldn’t be afraid to lead the room if the room is lacking a leader. I was grateful for the feedback because it gave me the last half of the internship to adjust my habits and start actively thinking about how and when to be more confident. Another area where I grew was in my professional communication. Every day I had new emails and phone calls to return to people inside and outside of the company. After the first few attempts and with some tips from my co-workers, I quickly fell into a rhythm of how to talk the talk as if I were someone who had been with the company for years. I even had one supplier that admitted over the phone that they did not realize I was an intern until they saw my signature in an email.
In relation to my health and well-being, I attribute my transformation to my absence of homework assignments and weekend obligations. During the fall, the marching band has a vigorous schedule that usually results in members really only having two completely free weekends during the whole semester. Between marching band and classes, or just classes in the spring, I seem to never have just quite enough time to do all the things I want to do (like cook my food at home and exercise regularly). Because a lack of these obligations, and my only focus really being my job, I had lots of time to contribute to things I wanted to do for me.
As for my professional development, I think working in such a collaborative environment the entire summer really helped me to extinguish any stereotypes about working at a large company. Whether it was talking with Goodyear associates or with suppliers that have had a long relationship with the company, I felt right at home after the first week of experience began to fuel my development. My team held weekly meetings that brought everyone up to speed from the previous week and gave everyone a gauge of where we wanted to be by the end of the week.
Both changes are significant and valuable to my life because it really showed me that a healthy lifestyle is not that hard at all to maintain like many people would argue it is. With that, I think the positive effects of a healthy lifestyle led me to success at work and on the job. With the right schedule and prioritization of commitments, I can easily transfer this lifestyle change into my life during the fall when I have marching band or over the spring when my class load tends to be heavier. The growth I have experienced in professional communication also has made me a fierce contender for the work force upon graduation because I now know how to present myself the best way possible in a professional setting. My signature project has honestly gotten me even more excited for graduation because I know that the lifestyle I lived and the success I saw over the summer is something totally achievable and would be a great start to my post-college years. I know no matter where I go and who I go with, I can carry the healthy lifestyle choices and professional development I experienced over the summer to my life as a graduate and reap the benefits of living a balanced life.