2017 Outstanding Co-op/Intern of the Year Award Winners

Name:
Alex Stocker
College:
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Major:
Computer Science
Employer:
Bradley University Department of Computer Science and Information Systems
When I was applying for college, I had very little idea of what I wanted to study. After deciding on computer science, I was excited to have the opportunity to learn about how some of the most important things in modern life work. However, I was apprehensive because I knew so little. As soon as I started classes I knew I had chosen the correct field for myself. I have consistently found the puzzle-like challenge that comes along with programming exceptionally rewarding ever since. I am also fascinated by the way technology can be broken down and deeply understood. One of the best experiences I had within my field was the opportunity to perform research for the Bradley University Department of Computer Science & Information Systems.

Working on the research provided me with a great amount of hands-on experience with code and the opportunity to take on a unique problem-solving situation. Since the job was research, I found myself working on theory and applications previously unvisited. I was able to hone my skills as a programmer and learn a lot about perfecting my structure. My skills as a communicator also improved as I frequently met with my supervisor to discuss progress made and the direction of the project. These meetings were crucial in helping me to truly understand my work. This opportunity helped me to keep my programming skills in use while teaching me more about being responsible and handling the pressure of a large project.

The experience I had working on research is genuinely invaluable to me. It affirmed my choice in a career path and offered a satisfying test of my knowledge. I know that I really am a better student, programmer, and person because of it.
Name:
Cody Gastel
College:
Caterpillar College of Engineering & Technology
Major:
Civil Engineering
Employer:
Farnsworth Group
From the time I began studying civil engineering, I knew I desired to be a Structural Engineer, designing buildings and bridges to provide safe, efficient structures to get people where they need to be, and provide them places to work, live, and play. Fortunately for me, I had the opportunity to work as a Structural Engineering Intern at Farnsworth Group this past summer.

Farnsworth Group is an employee-owned, national architecture, engineering, and survey firm that has provided client- focused solutions for over 125 years. At the heart of what they do is their people, passion and performance. As an intern in the Transportation Structures department, I experienced first-hand the passion and performance of dozens of talented individuals, who put me to work right away.

Over the course of the summer, my work ethic and quality of work was recognized, and I was offered the opportunity to work part time throughout the school year. Through the past summer, fall, and spring, I worked on an enormous volume and variety of structural projects including buildings, bridges, dams, windfarms, and wastewater treatment plants. I designed masonry structures, hoist beam systems, steel frames, roof joists, isolated foundations, culverts, ditches, and was even tasked with the entire design of a precast prestressed concrete deck beam bridge. I prepared full sets of plans for IDOT projects and building projects using AutoCAD, MicroStation, and Revit; I performed quantity and cost computations, reviewed fabrication shop submittals, and developed 3D analytical and non-analytical structure models. I also enjoyed time outside of the office performing structural inspections of existing and under construction buildings and bridges, surveying hundreds of culverts and analyzing their conditions to recommend their repair or replacement, and interacting with clients and contractors to gain the full experience of engineering work from start to finish.

Whether it was the incredible company culture, the individuals who welcomed me and made their mark on my experience, or learning volumes about engineering, structures, and real construction, working for Farnsworth Group exceeded my goals and expectations time and again. Overall, this experience prepared me for my future as a Structural Engineer more than I could have ever hoped.
Name:
Austin Shone
College:
Slane College of Communication
Major:
Sports Communication
Employer:
Los Angeles Dodgers
If my internship had a name, it’d be Cody Bellinger. A rookie with limited experience getting the chance to perform on the biggest stage. If my internship had an address it would be 1000 Vin Scully. Lined with towering palms pointing up at a sky that could have been painted by Van Gogh himself. If my internship had a face, it would be covered by a scraggly red beard. If it had an expression it would be ecstatic.

In the fall of 2018 I was very lucky and blessed to intern with the Los Angeles Dodgers and iHeartMedia. I worked in two departments during my time with the Dodgers: Marketing & Broadcasting as well as Public Relations. One of my main jobs in M&B was to develop a summary of all the advertising the Dodgers did for promotions during the course of the season. I also helped brainstorm and create the 2018 Promotional schedule. On game days I worked with the “Blue Crew” our between innings marketing group to run half-inning promotions such as Kiss Cam and Steal a Base as well as coordinating pre-game activities such as the national anthem and Kids Take the Field.

During the postseason, I moved to the PR department to be a press box runner. I assisted the media with credentials, press conferences, and made sure all the stat packs and media guides were updated and available. So many people work decades in baseball and never get to work the World Series. I was so spoiled to get the opportunity my first season. When the World Series came to LA it was a bonus to meet and network with so many members of the national media and I had a great viewing spot in the press box for the entire postseason.

On the days that I didn’t work at the Dodger Stadium, I worked at AM 570 LA Sports which is operated by iHeartMedia, and partially owned by the Dodgers. I worked as an assistant to the producer on two talk shows: Lunchtime with Roggin & Rodney, and Petros & Money. Listening to and learning from so many talented hosts gave me such a great inside look at how “sacred radio” (as Vic the Brick Jacobs would say) happens.

The Dodgers gave me a front row seat to how one of the most recognizable brands in the world is marketed and managed. AM 570 gave me a microphone on the most successful sports station in America’s largest radio market. If my internship made a sound it would sound like 56,000 people applauding on Justin Turner’s Game 2 walk-off home run. And one of them would be me. Applauding not only that blast, but also the people who got me to that moment; the people who allowed my career to blast off.
Name:
Nicholas Chovancek,
College:
College of Education & Health Sciences
Major:
Nursing
Employer:
Fort Belvoir Community Hospital
During the summer of 2017, in addition to training with the Estonian military during NATO exercises, I attended the Army ROTC Nurse Summer Training Program. I was selected to spend one month at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital (FBCH) in Virginia. I worked 40+ hour weeks and 12 hour shifts, the same schedule as a registered nurse. Though I spent most of my time working in the intensive care unit (ICU), I also rotated through the emergency department (ED) and operating room (OR). This variety of clinical environments allowed me to sharpen my skills and challenged me to be adaptive during my rotation.

My goals prior to this experience were to practice as many hands-on nursing skills as possible, apply classroom knowledge of diseases and health to a dynamic clinical environment, and orient myself to the lifestyle of a working registered nurse. I accomplished these goals by seeking out as many learning opportunities as possible and putting the patient’s needs first at all times. In addition to clinical experiences, I was afforded the experience to go on a ‘staff ride’ through Arlington National Cemetery and the White House in order to develop my understanding of the national capital region and the history surrounding it. I value these experiences as much as those in the hospital because they help me to become a well-rounded citizen and competent Army Officer, which I owe to my patients.

Finally, my team of cadets (myself and three other ROTC nurses from around the nation) created and delivered an Evidence-Based Practice presentation to FBCH senior leadership to help improve the hospital’s policies and procedures. We advocated for the use of bedside handoff reports during nursing shift change to reduce errors in communication and advance patient care. The members of the hospital’s senior leadership were impressed and requested a copy of the presentation to further develop our plan of action.

This internship broadened my professional horizons and allowed me to gain insight on what it is like to work as an Army nurse. Additionally, I was exposed to a realistic workload and schedule of an ICU nurse which has prepared me to transition from student nurse to Registered Nurse upon graduation. I am thankful to the U.S. Army for this opportunity and am very proud to have helped care for soldiers and their families.
Name:
Sarah Bujold
College:
Foster College of Business
Major:
Marketing - Social Media
Employer:
Illinois Business Financial Services
During my junior year I attended the Spring Job and Internship Fair hoping to get a head start on networking and applying for internships during my senior year. However, when I came across the Marketing Management Intern position with Illinois Business Financial Services (IBFS), I knew I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to apply. Within a matter of weeks, I started training and learning the ins and outs of the business and my role within IBFS.

Illinois Business Financial Services is a small, certified, development company that works with the Small Business Administration to provide funding for small businesses in order to grow and further their impact on the local community. My responsibilities included managing all web and social media content, producing digital and print marketing materials, creating and sending monthly rate updates and quarterly newsletters, planning strategic meetings, handling community relations, and preparing files for audit. Having such a wide variety of roles allowed me to master time management, improve multi-tasking skills, and gain a better understanding of overall company operations.

Additionally, the great deal of autonomy and responsibility I was permitted gave me confidence in my abilities and allowed me to experience the positive difference I can make in the workplace. I was able to change the website platform and email providers to lower costs, implement new policies to streamline marketing, and revamp social strategies to significantly increase overall reach. It was incredibly beneficial to be able to have an opportunity to directly practice the skills I learned in my classes in a real-world environment before I even graduated! I loved being surrounded by experienced professionals who believed in my skills and respected my opinions.

Regardless of where life takes me after graduation, I am proud of the work I’ve accomplished and the professional qualities I’ve developed during my time at IBFS. Through social strategy development, balancing a wide variety of responsibilities, and engaging with community partners I’ve fostered meaningful relationships with those I’ve worked with while also discovering a strong sense of confidence in the young professional and person I have become. My internship will come to an end, but I’m thankful these qualities will stay with me for years to come.