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Austin Burton ’16 Montgomery County Health Internship

As an intern for the Montgomery County Health Department (MCHD) I have been involved in much more than I ever imagined I could be in such a short amount of time. My ignorance of the Health Department’s duties was plentiful before the internship started, but now I have developed a much better picture of the inner workings of the MCHD. The MCHD is a small office with only five full-time employees. However, what the department lacks in numbers, it possesses in fortitude. I could not have asked for a better group of people to work with. Not only are the people of the Health Department super friendly and caring, but they are also extremely knowledgeable and hard-working. In just five short weeks, I have gained valuable information ranging from the anatomy of a mosquito to the layout of a septic system, none of which would have been possible without my co-workers.

My main job at the Health Department is trapping, identifying, and sending mosquitos off for testing (of West Nile Virus). I have stared at more mosquitos, with a microscope, through this internship than I ever stared at Drosophila melanogaster (fruit flies) in genetics class. Although this can get redundant, I have still thoroughly enjoyed the process of creating a brew (gravid mosquito attractant), setting a trap, and identifying mosquito species for testing. This job has been proved to be very important this year as mosquito populations have skyrocketed in the Midwest as a result of the massive amounts of rain we have received this summer. Almost every spot we have decided to place traps has produced over one hundred mosquitos per trap in an approximately twenty-four-hour cycle. So far there have been no reported cases of West Nile virus and we are thankful for that. However, the virus tends to peak in late July and therefore educating the public on ways to reduce mosquito populations, to minimize the risk involved in mosquito bites, is very important. I have been able to do this on a small scale in the county not only via word of mouth, but I have also received the privilege of writing a couple of articles for the local newspaper. This has been my first experience writing for any publication, and I have found the opportunity to be very rewarding. It is a great honor, privilege, and responsibility to be able to write for your community in a concise, informative and interesting way. Still, mosquito hunter and occasional newspaper writer are not the only tasks I have been involved with at the health department.

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Austin Burton calibrating machine to test mosquitos for West Nile Virus.

I have been to multiple food inspections that shed light not only on the procedures and systems of restaurants but also the precautions that need to be taken to ensure food is safe to be eaten. I am constantly amazed each time I step foot into a food establishment’s kitchen at the care owners, and managers take to ensure not only food quality but also food cleanliness. Even with the care was taken by the respective employees I have been able to see the importance of a food inspector in maintaining clean eating environments and practices. These same practices are important at home as well and sometimes when they are not applied the health department has to step in. This being the case, I have been to several homes that have had unfortunate cockroach infestations or animal troubles and have been able to provide help and information to assist families in leading healthier lives. It is amazing how much improvement can be made on a home by simply educating people on how to keep their houses healthier. All of my time at people’s houses hasn’t just been spent on the inside. I have also learned some of the science of soil sampling when testing for septic system placements and have been able to see the end result of that testing turning into a brand new septic system being put into the ground. The Health Department has provided me with all of these opportunities and many more including water testing, pool testing, customer service, county preparedness, and county meetings. In a few weeks when my internship is over I will have gained valuable experience and information, I will have formed many new relationships and retain unforgettable memories. I thank everyone involved in the Lilly internship program for my opportunity as well as every employee at the Health Department for making my experience possible and very pleasant.


Wesley Virt ’17 Playing for Team Lilly

Wesley SpencerBWhen I think about a team, I think about a group of people who have the same abilities and desires. Before becoming a financial economics major, I thought that the only way I could play on the team of impacting people’s life was through pursuing a medical degree. This team has direct contact with patients every day. They are the ones that make the difference. I slowly began to realize that this is not the case at all, and this realization has been exemplified every day here during my internship at Tx: Team.
Having an impact during an internship is one of the reasons that I decided to join Tx: Team. Tx: Team is a physical therapy company based in Indianapolis but does business in many different states. I remember speaking to Scott Benedict, the CEO of Tx: Team during the interview for this internship. He said that the intern would have the ability to speak freely and be treated as an equal member of the team. He also assured me that I would not be getting coffee for him. I never realized how accurate this statement was until I started the internship.

On the first day of this internship, I was introduced to all of the tools that are used for forecasting. I remember saying to Spencer Sherridan, the financial analyst, on the first day, “These tools are ridiculously slow. There has to be another way.” His response back was simple, “Find it.” So with that motivation I set off to find another way to compile the data and make the tools work faster. I consulted many different sources to find the best program to use that was not Excel. The answer came to me with a Microsoft program called Access. Over the next few weeks, I would transform the physician referral Excel sheet into a quicker, and more user-friendly Access version. My best friends those next few weeks became “Access 2010 for Dummies” and the Office Support website since no one at the office knew much about Access.

After many obstacles and challenges, I finally finished the new Access database. Everyone in the office was impressed and wanted to work on changing all of the forecasting tools to Access. This one simple example shows that even though I am only an intern, I had a major impact on the team. I also impacted the team in another way by using my skills from Rhetoric 290- Deliberation. I got the chance to compose a deliberation for associates to voice their thoughts on how to increase the enthusiasm within the company. This just shows the value of a liberal arts education. I had to use skills from a variety of different classes and backgrounds to accomplish the task at hand. I would like to thank the Lilly Endowment for giving me all of these opportunities to learn a new operating system and for allowing me to realize even as an intern I can have a huge impact.

In conclusion, this team that I work for does not consist solely of therapists. It consists of people from all different specialties and experiences with each member making a difference in people’s lives directly or indirectly. They practice hard to give everyone the opportunity to live the healthiest life possible. I am part of that team. Tx: Team.

This post is part of the Looksharp Internship Blog Competition. To read more about the competition and view other posts go here.


Haopeng Yan ’16 Building a Co-working Space for South Bend

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Haopeng Yan working at his office desktop.

This summer, I was given this valuable opportunity to work 12 weeks for Union Station Technology Center in South Bend, Indiana. First of all, I would like to start this blog by thanking the Lilly Endowment, Inc. to fund this internship. Also, I appreciate my two bosses, Dr. Shane Fimbel’ 01 and David Stamper, for guiding my work no matter what/when I needed their help or suggestions.

Union Station Technology Center (USTC) designs, builds, and manages data centers, a co-working space, and high-speed network communications facilities for mid-sized local businesses to large enterprise and global cloud providers. The Infrastructure as a Service (IAAS) model serves as the backbone of our operations utilizing the flexibility in design, a highly reliable power source, and high-speed connectivity.

My main title of this internship is Marketing and Communications Intern. Working with Chris Stazinski’16, our main function is to help the company to build and brand their new coworking space – the Depot. After visiting multiple other successful coworking spaces in Indiana like Launch Fishers and MatchBox, we believe that the Depot can be a membership-based ecosystem designed for entrepreneurs, creative professionals, freelancers, consultants, and students. Our long-term goal is to create a hub to facilitate business growth and innovation by providing a facility for collaboration and mutual development. For a small monthly fee, our clients have access to our extraordinary amenities.
My daily job includes building and marketing the Depot. I helped and coordinated in planning and promoting for several events such as Taco Tuesday and Wednesday entrepreneurial talks to engage current and future members. In the meantime, I prepared and managed all membership and event communications, including membership agreement, Terms of Use, press releases, and social media sites like LinkedIn and Twitter. What is more, I worked closely with Chris to build our website on Squarespace. From designing the logo to building a sheet of events happening within the Depot, I practiced a lot of what I have learned about marketing from the winter externship at Elbert Construction. I would also like to thank Mr. Aaron Nicely ’06 for extending his help after the winter externship when I built this website in the past few weeks.

Now I look forward to the rest of this internship. It is evident that this internship grows my leadership in leading a great number of events, inspires me intellectually in building and creating the website, and further improves my communication skills with both coworkers and clients from different background. Again, thank you Wabash and Lilly Endowment for preparing Wabash men for a successful future.


Christopher Shrack ’16 Chemistry and Wabash Brewing

IMG_2682I was fortunate enough to spend eight weeks of my summer working on the northwest side of Indianapolis at a new nano-brewery called Wabash Brewing. I spent the last two summers exploring research in the organic chemistry lab at Marian University and the biochemistry lab at Wabash College; therefore, I was looking for something fresh to do with chemistry this summer. When I found this internship, I thought it presented a great opportunity to see how chemistry can be utilized in business and to experience the production of craft beer, which I was less familiar than its consumption.

There is a small office in the back of the brewery that the owners had set-aside as a laboratory to run quality control tests on the beer as it progresses through the fermentation process. Along with doing general housekeeping tasks, one of the goals for my internship set by the owners was to get the lab up and to run by the end of the summer.

During the first few weeks, it was nearly impossible to get to the lab instruments since the laboratory itself was doubling as storage space and was overflowing with mail, receipts, and other miscellaneous equipment. Unfortunately, an issue with production appeared around the same time the internship began. As it turned out, the grain necessary for brewing being milled on site before the brewing process began created dust that accumulated in the air ducts and fed a bacterial infection in the brewing yeast. This resulted in many beers turning sour during fermentation, which then had to be discarded. Since the owners worked full-time at other jobs during the week, this left a lot of cleaning for the other intern, Addison Hummel, and me to do in order to get back to the level of production that was expected. Each fermenter vessel was boiled and cleaned thoroughly in between batches, and the grain mill was moved outside to avoid further collection of dust. Additionally, we learned how to clean the vessels in which the beer was carbonated and the kegs the beer was stored in afterward. During this time, I was also able to run the taproom and interact with customers on a regular basis.

The most exciting part for me was learning the process of brewing beer from mashing the grain and adding the hops in during the boiling process to transferring the unfermented product, known as the wort, into a fermenter vessel and pitching the yeast with oxygen. Once the production issue was tackled, we were able to get rid of a lot of clutter in the brewery and the laboratory. The laboratory consists of a gas chromatograph (GC), a tandem gas chromatography mass spectrometer (GC-MS), a compound microscope, and a UV-Vis spectroscopy instrument (UV-VS). We determined that the latter two instruments were functional, but the GC and GC-MS systems needed to be professional repaired. Before the internship concluded, we discussed procedures moving forward for counting yeast cells using the compound microscope and for determining the standard reference method (SRM), or color of the beer, using the portable UV-VS instrument.

I would like to thank the Lilly Endowment for allowing me the opportunity to experience the inner workings of a business that has strong ties with science. I would also like to thank the owners, Matt Kriech, and Damon Carl, for allowing me to be a part of their dream in merging chemistry with the art of craft brewing. It has offered a truly unique perspective, and I’m looking forward to stopping by in the months and years to come for a pint and catching up with everyone I had the pleasure of working with this summer.


Jake Norley ’16 Proteins, Protocols, and a Patent on Top

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Jake Norley taking samples in the laboratory.

I have spent the previous eight weeks of my final summer as an undergraduate student working with Kevin Meyer ’06 at Perfinity Biosciences alongside Connor Smith ’18. This company consisting of 4 employees has given us a great concept of what it is like to work for a small company and to run a business. At Perfinity, I have been working in the Research and Development department helping to develop new sample processing technologies for the diagnostics of proteins in a mass spectrometer which has become a pressing issue in the field given the rapid growth of mass spectrometry technologies in the past decade. The growth of this technology has outpaced the growth of sampling protocol technologies for this instrumentation. Due to the issue presented, Perfinity Biosciences has found its niche. Perfinity currently has a line of immobilized enzyme products that permit the scientist to prepare samples that initially took days to complete in just hours. This is significant in that the ability to assess proteins through mass spectrometry allows researchers to understand better proteins and disease. Connor and I have been working on a product that will optimize this process even further. However, we are in the process of submitting our findings as a provisional patent so I am unable to discuss specifics.

This internship could not have come to me at a better time. I have pulled knowledge from every chemistry course I have taken at Wabash and applied it to the job. We work heavily in proteomics that Biochemistry has prepared me well for. We use advanced instrumentation such as a liquid chromatography coupled with an ion trap MS-MS that Dr. Dallinger would have loved to have at Wabash but even with the lack of one present he taught me much about the differing instrumentations in the field as well as the importance of sample preparation. We use organic chemistry to modify and alter a variety of nitrogen groups. The whole internship has brought together every facet of chemistry I have learned and done so in a very interesting way.
Not only has this internship been academically thought provoking, but it will be very beneficial for my career as I move on from Wabash. As I stated earlier, we are currently working on a provisional patent for the work that we have been doing over the course of the internship. This means that I will have my name on an actual patent for intellectual property that is relevant in the currently booming field of biotechnology. This will be something that I can put on a resume that employers or graduate school admissions offices will look at when considering applicants and it will help me stand out in a strong pool of undergraduate candidates for a position. This patent directly pertains to a field that I would like to one day be a part of and having already done established work before graduating college greatly helps me to achieve this goal. This has all been possible through the Lilly Endowment Fund without which I would be unable to have this amazing opportunity. Lilly has helped me better myself and has given me the means to achieve my goals, and I would like to thank those in charge of the fund for that. I hope that this program continues to help undergraduates by presenting them with opportunities such as the one I have.


Ty Campbell ’16 Mutual Empowerment–Working for the Youth Services Bureau

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Mr. Campbell in front of the Youth Services Bureau.

My 8-week, Lilly-funded internship has been spent at the Montgomery County Youth Service Bureau. My time in Crawfordsville has been worthwhile and valuable from working on several projects that benefit the Montgomery County community through the Bureau.

My main project during the first few weeks of my internship involved making alterations to a current charity run by the Bureau. Using the information collected from Robert Lupton’s book, Toxic Charity, members of the Bureau and I critically examined the weaknesses and detrimental effects that contemporary charities often (unintentionally) have on those living in poverty. We located a program sponsored by the Bureau that is likely to exhibit these negative traits and began researching innovative techniques to change the current operations and characteristics of the charity. Another intern and I then worked on collecting data from other similar charities and converting the information into potential changes that can be altered to meet the needs of Montgomery County. The main idea behind the changes to the charity is to stop eventually creating participant entitlement and dependency on charitable services through one-way giving. Edits made to the charity are projected to help stimulate self-sufficiency among participants of the charity and create a healthier path out of poverty for those in need. Research and progression of the project continue but with the recent Program Committee’s approval of proposed ideas, some changes to the charity will begin as early as this upcoming year!

I chose the title of this article as “mutual empowerment” because it is the same theme of my internship. Empowering others, while benefitting myself, is promised to reward both parties later in life. Not only am I learning skills that will help me become a versatile individual, but I am also attempting to help better the Montgomery County community through work with the Youth Service Bureau.

One helpful aspect of working with social services is that other people in the field are always willing to share beneficial information. Since most of the organizations have the same goal of helping others, the competition involved in other business fields is essentially eliminated. When doing fieldwork and gathering information from other youth service agencies around the state and nation, I was pleasantly surprised to find every person I communicated with to be passionately helpful and sincerely hopeful in the success of the project I was working on with the Bureau.

An added bonus of working at the Bureau has been the versatility and different roles of my internship. Besides my initial project, I have also helped compose grants and have worked with other programs sponsored by the Bureau. Being interested in a law-related career after graduation, I have become very intrigued by the Bureau sponsored CASA program (Court Appointed Special Advocates). I have started training in the program and after appointment from the Montgomery County Court, I can participate as a CASA volunteer in cases during my senior year at Wabash College. This opportunity would help introduce to me an aspect of law while furthering my recent interest in social work.

The Youth Service Bureau’s mission statement is “to help young people become productive citizens.” I believe that my work here has truly helped advance the mission of the Bureau. By helping transition a program from entitlement to empowerment, I am impacting people’s ability to be self-sufficient. This mirrors Wabash’s goal for their students, and my personal goals, “to think critically, act responsibly, lead effectively, and live humanely.” As a rising senior, the combination of these two missions has helped mold me into an individual who attempts to act thoughtfully to impact the future.

Lastly, I would like to thank the Lilly Endowment and Wabash College for my unique summer experience. Also, I would like to thank Karen Branch, the Executive Director at the Montgomery County Youth Service Bureau, and her wonderful staff for their support and education. Working for the Youth Service Bureau has strengthened my Liberal Arts education as a Wabash man, increased my overall potential entering my next stage in life, and has broadened my knowledge and appreciation of Montgomery County and the Wabash community.


Korbin West ’16- Perfinity Biosciences

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. For the past month I’ve been working in 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.

Korbin West Summer Internship 2014

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 diseases and discover more secrets of the body.

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 to 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. As I’m sure with many of my fellow classmates, I continually wonder if I’m going in the right field. 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.

I’d like to thank Wabash College and Lilly Endowment, Inc. for their wonderful support and making this opportunity available for me.


Groff ’15 Non-For Profit Experience

Ethan Groff ‘ 15 – First of all I would like to thank the Lilly Endowment for their funding, which makes this all possible, and Mr. Roland Morin, Wabash class of ’91, for recommending me to apply for this internship. Over the past 6 weeks I have been the Intern at the Mishawaka-Penn-Harris Public Library (MPHPL). So, I’m a librarian you ask? Nope, not at all! However, over the past 6 weeks I have been given the opportunity to be everything in the library except the librarian (Librarians need an MLS after all). In my brief stint here at the library I have been simultaneously exposed to the world of non-for profits, and the world of education. My internship is focused around a set of projects that my bosses want me to help the library with. These include; group projects, from website design meetings to a presentation and discussion of Hoopla (an online based resource rapidly gaining popularity with libraries across the country), to individual projects, such as working on a Social Media plan, doing research on other libraries to help us plan the most up to date programs, and then attending those Summer Reading programs. Some particular highlights include, walking alongside the library in the Memorial Day parade, a local puppeteer putting on a very funny show, visiting different libraries throughout the state to do on-site research, and creating the wireframes that will eventually become the Library’s new website. Every day presents itself with new challenges and surprises, and all of these different activities mean I haven’t had a “regular” day yet!

Ethan Groff Summer Internship 2014

Now of course one of the first questions people ask me is; are you going into Library science after graduation? The answer to that is no, but that doesn’t mean this internship hasn’t been extremely valuable and insightful in helping me discover what it is I do want to do when I graduate. I have seen first-hand what it means to be passionate about ones work. The Librarians here are very passionate about helping people find the right book, but more importantly are passionate about helping people learn. The joy on the faces of the librarians and children during the summer programs (and my own joy that comes from sharing these experiences) has been a powerful teacher. In a more professional sense, this internship has taught me many of the ins and outs of running a company. My boss is in charge of hiring’s at the library, and I have gotten to see the kind of time and effort that is put into hiring new members to a staff (even if I cannot be in the interviews myself).  Through my conversations with Dena (my boss), Donna (the Branch manager at the downtown branch, also technically, another boss), and Dave (The Library director, THE boss) I have been asked to weigh in on matters that affect the entire running of the library. The projects I am currently working on include, helping redesign the website and doing research for the 30th anniversary celebration of our Bittersweet branch (Penn Township). By the end of the summer I will also be able to add budgeting (finance), Public relations, and Marketing to my resume. Needless to say, even though Library Science may not be in my future, this Internship has been very beneficial to me.

Finally, this summer has taught me a great deal about myself. Because a big part of my Internship focuses on projects that I work on independently I have had the opportunity to find out that I can be an excellent self-starter. (I have also found that sometimes I am not!) I have found out that I am very passionate about helping people learn (I think I get that from my mom, a high school teacher). I have found out that I enjoy my job much more when I am working directly with other people. Finally, I have learned that one is never too old to enjoy a good puppet show. Have a wonderful summer everyone!