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Chris Stazinski ’16 Co-Working & Entrepreneurship in South Bend

 

StazinskiBefore we get started, I want to thank the Lilly Endowment, Inc. for providing funding my internship experience this summer and for many other Wabash men. Without that funding, such an opportunity would be lost for many of us. Talking to students from other colleges I have realized how lucky we are to have an organization like that on our side.
My experience at Union Station Technology Center (USTC) in South Bend this summer was nothing short of unique. USTC is the largest data center in Indiana and a top 40 carrier hotel in the nation, and the primary model of Infrastructure as a Service allows the company to provide storage and high-speed connectivity for businesses ranging in size from small and local to large and national. The goal this summer for myself and my coworker, Kevin Yan ’15, and was to design a co-working studio – the Depot – within the Union Station building, and then market and recruit people to work inside of it. The Depot is to be a hub of collaboration and mutual development among freelancers, independent consultants, and entrepreneurs.
In doing research on other successful co-working studios, we were lucky enough to be welcomed into MatchBOX in Lafayette and Launch Fishers in Fishers. It was a great opportunity to network with others with a similar goal and ask questions about how they became successful. In developing the Depot, we had to utilize our liberal arts education because the tasks varied greatly. Among other things, a few of our tasks were designing the layout of the space, creating the logo for the Depot, and building and managing the website. We also created various documents such as the membership agreement and the terms of use. We were also constantly reaching out to others in the community and planning events for the Depot to gather members.
I learned a few lessons from this internship. The first and foremost lesson is the importance of having a plan and set goals. A couple times we started on a task and then lost our way. When that happened, we had to restart and tweak our approach, but it was something that could have been avoided by having several smaller benchmark goals. Another lesson that was emphasized this summer is to manage your network and utilize the connections you have. It has also stressed to me the importance of being a reliable contact myself, because how can you expect others to help you if you are not willing to help them. In all, it was a very educational internship that taught me much about entrepreneurship and will help guide my endeavors after college. Once again, thank you to Wabash and the Lilly Endowment for making this possible.


Elliot Burge ’16 A Step into the Real World

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Mr. Burge studying material on an office desktop.

The Who

I am Elliott Burge – a junior at Wabash College from Valparaiso studying economics – and, fortunately, a 2015 summer intern at Connecta Corporation in Indianapolis. I would not have been so lucky nor had this fulfilling experience without some help from a few organizations and certain individuals. Firstly, I would like to thank the Lilly Endowment for funding my internship and many like it and for making all of these wonderful opportunities a reality. Additionally, I would like to thank Wabash College – specifically the Center for Innovation, Business & Entrepreneurship led by Roland Morin and William Oprisko, Director of Student Employment and Activities. All of their time and efforts put forth smoothly set up and ran the Lilly internship programs available to me and many Wabash men. Lastly, my supervisors Alan Pyle and Derek Turner – both Wabash alumni – deserve recognition for inviting me to work with them and for challenging me in a way that allowed me to grow and learn in a workplace full of hard-working and inviting individuals. Each person, group, and organization played a vital role in my summer internship, and their collective involvement proved crucial in the support and guidance I received during my time at Connecta Corp. The memories and value to my education will surely be cherished and not forgotten.
The What

During my eight-week internship program, I faced not only many tasks and obstacles but also completed many goals and projects. The variety of roles and responsibilities given to me most likely exceeded those of the majority of other Lilly interns. I thoroughly enjoyed the frequent changes in pace and setting while on the job. From picking up and dropping off orders, to entering many different forms of data and organizing inventory, to orchestrating a company-wide cookout and utilizing my previous cooking skills, I could not imagine a more well-rounded and diverse job experience. Sometimes I would sit all day working with Excel, writing emails, or making phone calls; and other days I would do more physical work, such as moving inventory, mowing and trimming the lawn, or inspecting products as the machines produced them. I enjoyed having the opportunity to work with everyone at Connecta in one way or another and being able to apply myself on both sides of the business. Throughout my internship, I met a lot of great people who welcomed me and taught me so much. I very much appreciate all the lessons and knowledge with which these past eight weeks have rewarded me.
The When & Where
My internship took place at Connecta Corporation, which sits at the corner of Boulevard Place and 34th Street just north of downtown Indianapolis, IN. My time here spanned from May 8th to July 10th. I originally lived in Valparaiso, which lies in the northwest part of Indiana – as some would call “The Region.” Moving from a city with a little over 30,000 people to one with over 800,000 a few hours away, I had a lot of adjustments to make. Luckily I have friends who grew up and live in Indy, but the challenges of learning new streets and an entirely different city altogether still confronted me. I first noticed how much just driving around differed, most notably the traffic density and size. Despite that, I still greatly enjoyed the city of Indianapolis and all the wonderful things it offers. My experiences in and around the city indirectly related back my internship, and none of them would have occurred without it. Once again, I thank everyone who played a role in making this all possible. I learned a lot even outside of work about people, living on my own, and life in general, and that made all of my time here that much more worthwhile.
The Why
Some may wonder why I chose to work with Connecta, why I wanted to live in Indianapolis, or why I searched for an internship in the first place. I decided to look for an internship because of how competitive getting a desirable post-college job (or any job really) is nowadays. An internship provides very valuable experiences and awareness that separate prospective employees from ones with just their degree. I would rather be the best employee than the smartest. People have told me it is better to know how to use what you know as opposed to just knowing more than the person next to you. A quality college education and a good internship help individuals achieve not one but both of those. I felt that I needed to find an internship because of how much they offer. Secondly, Indianapolis seemed like the perfect location for me. I wanted to explore somewhere new and to excite away from home. Chicago would have been interesting, but that meant I would stay at home and have to commute by car, train, or bus 45 minutes to an hour away. I knew I did not want either of those, so I chose Indianapolis. Not only could I choose somewhere near my workplace to live, but I could also spend every day with some of my friends and have a summer filled with all new places and faces away from my comfort zone. South Bend – although a bit smaller – also seemed like a viable option with similar qualities and enough distance from Valpo. This brings me to my final question and answer: as I applied to several internships both in Indianapolis and South Bend, I began waiting patiently – a bit too anxiously as the end of the school year approached – and then I started getting replies to my applications. I received three or four emails in about three weeks’ time stating how I was not the ideal person these businesses wanted. Then almost out of nowhere I had an interview over FaceTime with Alan and Derek from Connecta. It went surprisingly well, especially since we scheduled it in the morning during my spring break. Before I knew it, I eventually walked out of my second interview at Connecta with a summer internship. Connecta was also the only place that interviewed me, so that made the decision a bit easier. My decision to take on a Lilly internship with Connecta Corp in Indianapolis instead of something else turned out wonderfully, and I could not be happier with the results – direct or indirect. I never thought this past summer would have played out the way it did, but there is not much I would change. In addition to everyone who had an impact and played an active role, I am thankful for everything this internship brought to my life and all of the lasting memories that came along with it. I can only imagine what else the future holds.


West ’16 Confirms Interest in Chemistry Career

Korbin West ’16 – Since I started my internship, I’m quickly learning how little I really know about chemistry. And that is a fantastic feeling. While my internship is flying by, I’m trying to pick up as much as I can because there is no better learning environment than an immersive one, like that provided by the Indiana Internship Program. For the past month I’ve been working at Perfinity Biosciences, a small bioscience company in West Lafayette. Perfinity mainly focuses on proteomics, the study of proteins. Every person is made of tons and tons of proteins, just like the hemoglobin in our blood or the insulin in our pancreas. However, there is still so much the world doesn’t know about proteins, which is where Perfinity steps in.

Without getting too technical, we find ways to break down and analyze these proteins so others can discover more information about them. Imagine you find a newspaper that has been crumpled up into a ball, this will be our example protein. To be able to read the paper (a.k.a. extract information from the protein), we have to find a way to un-crumple it without ruining it. In a way, this is what Perfinity does for other researchers/drug companies, so that they can find new ways to battle disease and discover more secrets of the body.

West '16 transfers a protein solution to test tubes, allowing him to simultaneously monitor a dozen reactions over the course of a day.

West ’16 transfers a protein solution to test tubes, allowing him to simultaneously monitor a dozen reactions over the course of a day.

As an intern, I spend a lot of my time helping out wherever I can. The majority of my time is spent in the lab, where I have various responsibilities. My daily activities range from making stock solutions for our spectroscopy equipment, to validating old protocols and researching new ones. My time here has greatly helped me develop my chemistry skill set, as well as strengthening my abilities in many other aspects. Although some of my work is quite challenging, I’m continually learning from my co-workers how to approach these issues and I’m picking up plenty of new techniques and methods. However, just like any liberal arts experience, I’m learning much more than just the chemistry behind it. Whether it’s discussing the economics behind our product, presenting results at company meetings, or anything in-between, I’m constantly rounding out my experience.

The past couple weeks have been an absolutely incredible time for me. I continuously wonder if I’m going into the right field, as I’m sure is also the case for many of my fellow classmates. I would ask myself “What if I can’t stand working in the lab all day?” or “What if I don’t have what it takes to make it?” Now, I’m happy to say, that I don’t find myself asking these questions anymore. I’ve enjoyed every second of my time here at Perfinity and although I’m not nearly done with working to improve my skills and proficiency in chemistry, I feel confident in my decision to pursue chemistry.