Written by: Kelly Straniero
One thing I have found fascinating in my internship is when I run into a problem that involves skills I have developed in classes in Fisher. Interestingly enough, only twice have I been able to take classroom experience and apply it to a work task. In fact, this internship has taught me more new concepts than any class I have taken and I am learning an entire new subject that I never knew before: the steel industry.
Classwork tends to be less detailed and more structured while here I deal with new kinds of data daily and I have to figure out how to manipulate it to get out the information I need. I spend most of my time in Excel and my first tip of advice for anyone who wants to get an internship is to take CSE 2111 seriously. I make more Pivot Tables and use more IF functions in one week than I did in an entire semester. Excel is really easy to navigate once you know what you are doing, but that being said, my first Excel project took me more time to get the formulas to work than anything else.
The main difference between classwork and this internship is that because I am working in the steel industry, I was thrown into this unknown industry and had to catch up and learn everything I could instantly. Until I figured out what raw materials I was working with and why, none of my tasks had meaning. There are thousands of little details and pieces of knowledge that I have picked up about the steel industry that make my data entry interesting because I can either predict what I think the outcome should be or I can use my data to find places of improvement in the system. With schoolwork, you don’t need extensive knowledge about the subject to have the assignment make sense at all. Here, I spent my first two weeks trying to wrap my head around the steel industry and grasp how much goes in to one individual steel coil (it’s a lot if you were wondering).
I have found that I am learning quicker and retaining more of my knowledge by immersing myself in my tasks and spending as much time as I need to understand exactly what I am doing. It is definitely easier to learn by doing than to learn by hearing a lecture. It will be interesting to see exactly how much of my new skills will be applicable when I get back into Fisher.