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John Steponick graduated from The Ohio State University in 2017 with a degree in Atmospheric Sciences. He is currently a graduate student at the University of Delaware. He worked as an intern for the Office of Environmental Services from May 2016 to April 2017. This is his story:
What skills have you gained from working at ODOT?ODOT was the first internship I ever had, so it was my first "real" experience in the professional world. I gained experience working in an office and in a field setting which developed and introduced me to a wide range of skills. While in the office, I developed my general Microsoft Office skills, especially since much of my time was spent analyzing data through Excel and editing documents on Word, primarily Ohio's Statewide Pollinator Habitat Guidelines. I was also first introduced to mapping software such as ArcGIS at ODOT, and I assisted with many minor projects that required the use of ArcGIS and Google Earth. Out in the field, I assisted with a couple mussel relocations, wildlife camera installations and maintenance, invasive species removals, and bridge inspections, which were all interesting and beneficial in their own way. On top of some of these more technical skills and experiences, I developed essential soft skills that can be applicable to any aspect of life, such as working in a team setting, completing tasks in an efficient and effective manner, etc.
What is the most surprising thing you've learned about ODOT?The most surprising thing I probably learned about ODOT is how flexible work hours can be. As an intern that was taking 18 credit hours at Ohio State most semesters, flexibility when it came to my work schedule was key, and essentially I was able to create my own hours which I believe improved my productivity and effectiveness in the workplace.
How have your educational experiences helped you here at ODOT?
I think my educational experiences helped me out at ODOT a lot because pursuing and completing a college degree is, plain and simple, a lot of hard work. The work ethic I developed in my classes I believe transitioned smoothly to working at ODOT.
How have your experiences here at ODOT helped with your education?
As I stated before, working at ODOT was my first real experience in the professional world, and as I started to finish my general education courses and got more into my major courses, we had to do group projects with the same people every week. My experiences at ODOT, primarily working with the same coworkers every day on various projects, allowed me to understand how to collaborate with different personality types on a daily basis. The technical skills I developed also helped tremendously.
What are your graduation goals?I graduated from Ohio State in December of 2017 with a B.S. in Atmospheric Sciences as well as a minor in Environmental Science. Starting in August 2018, I will begin pursuing my M.S. in Disaster Science & Management at the University of Delaware on a research assistantship. The ultimate goal I have for my future is to get my Ph.D. in Climate Science, and conduct climate and disaster research either within academia, or for NOAA or NASA.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I have played hockey my whole life, so I love playing hockey. Besides that, I like to play other sports such as baseball or basketball; I like to volunteer with refugees and environmental organizations; I like to explore new cities and parks; I like to go camping; and I like to stay up-to-date on politics and current events from around the world.
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