Sally Wolf: Making an IMPACT

Indiana INTERNnet celebrated internship excellence on February 26, 2019 at the 13th Annual IMPACT Awards Luncheon. Though the event is over, and the winners have been announced, we are continuing to celebrate the nominees’ successes.


These are their stories.

Sally Wolf graduated from Miami University in the Spring of 2018 with a degree in psychology. She completed two internships in the summer of 2018 with the Indiana Department of Workforce Development on the Youth Initiatives.


Indiana INTERNnet: What made you interested in pursuing a master’s degree?


Sally Wolf: I’m currently in a Master of Arts program in Social Sciences, focusing in Psychology, at the University of Chicago. I’ll graduate this June. I graduated from Miami University with a double major in Psychology and French and a minor in Art History in May 2018. I completed two summer internships with the Indiana Department of Workforce Development on the Youth Initiatives team. I developed an interest in all three areas I studied for my undergraduate degree through advanced AP and IB coursework at Fishers High School and have decided to pursue social science research as my future career.


IIN: What was the most challenging project you were assigned?


SW: My main project over the course of both of my summers with Youth Initiatives focused on how to share out high quality curriculum resources to the Specialists in the program Jobs for America’s Graduates. Jobs for America’s Graduates is a resilience-building program that teaches employability skills and provides work and mentorship experiences to high school students facing barriers to graduation. During my first summer, I carefully catalogued and assessed the curriculum resources. During my second summer, I uploaded this information to a Google Site in the form of a searchable database. I also added information about the different competencies, added the pacing Calendar through Google Calendars, and created video tutorials of how to use the different resources on the website.


IIN: What was biggest obstacle you faced with a project you were assigned?


SW: The biggest obstacle I encountered was finding a platform to host all the metadata I’d collected about the curriculum pieces. That way it could be in a searchable format that was free or low-cost. It took a fair amount of exploring add-ons available through open-source online tools and learning a bit about coding so I could tweak existing tools to fit the needs of the project. Using the transferrable software skills that I’d gained in school and taking advantage of multiple free online resources led to a positive outcome. But the most important feature was not being dissuaded by struggling to find someone who had already completed a similar project and being willing to experiment with innovative uses of existing tools and resources.


IIN: What are your future plans along with your career goals?


SW: Currently, I am applying to jobs in user experience research and consulting. These jobs focus on conducting social sciences research on how the user reacts to products and services. I’m particularly interested in doing user research in the healthcare or public sector. These positions will allow me to continue expanding my research skills and coming up with innovative solutions to problems encountered by users. After building up my skillset in research, design, and innovation, I hope to eventually transfer back to the public sector and use these skills to improve public policy interventions.


IIN:  How has your nomination for IMPACT Awards impacted your life?


SW:  Being nominated for the IMPACT award was such an honor! I really enjoyed working with my team, they’ve all done a lot to help me succeed, and their choice to nominate me was one of many ways they validated my contribution to such an impressive team of people. State government can have a reputation as slow moving, but my team was exactly the opposite. They were consistently supportive of every new idea I had to offer for my project and were happy to give me the space to experiment and figure out how to accomplish the database I envisioned. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to go back to my hometown for the awards ceremony and get caught up on the many ways both the public sector and the private sector are investing in Indiana youth, as well as catching up with the members of the Youth Initiatives team.


IIN: Why do you think internships are important?


SW: Internships are important because they offer students the opportunity to explore careers they’re interested in. They help students become qualified for entry level positions, and help students determine what features they do and do not want from future careers. They also teach interns many of the soft skills necessary for obtaining a job – like how to present their experiences to others, how to network with people in their field, and how to support a team. The positive impacts of internships are not limited to the interns, however. They connect businesses with a typically younger crowd, giving them the opportunity to invest in a potential employee who could effectively support their team for many years. They offer employers the chance to recruit recent graduates and find the best talent. Making career opportunities clear to students in school can motivate students to leverage their education to gain the skills necessary to enter the field.


Here is a link to the website Sally built

Photo of Sally giving a talk to the JAG Specialists about learning styles at the annual JAG Specialist training, June 2017


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