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Sylvia Kelechi Testimonial

Sylvia Kelechi

Purdue University Northwest

Major: Civil Engineering (Masters program)

Intern division: Bridge Inspection

During my summer internship applications, I looked for an organization where I could gain a firsthand practical application of most of the structural courses I learned in school. As a graduate student, I had several internship offers, but an organization with a good work structure was my priority. During my interview with the INDOT bridge inspection team, I was asked if I could climb heights and the ability and willingness to drive long distances. None of the other organizations I interviewed with ask me these questions, so this really caught my attention and made me want to know more about bridges in Indiana. On my first day, I was happy to discover that my team was comprised of three females and one male, as this gender ratio is rare to see in the Engineering profession. This was an indicator to me that I was at the right place, where diversity and inclusion is valued.

What stood out for me at INDOT was the work culture; nothing beats being surrounded with people that are willing to assist in your career growth. My supervisor would ask what I think about a bridge type, why one type of material was chosen over another. These questions made me see bridges beyond how I used to see them previously, now knowing that there are dedicated people out there inspecting all the state-owned bridges year-round. Being assigned culvert inspections from start to finish was the hallmark of my achievements, because I learned to use the Bias collector software for bridge and culvert rating.  The opportunity to participate and make contributions during meetings with contractors and bridge inspection supervisors increased my curiosity and my drive to gain more knowledge. I was provided with all I needed to efficiently execute my work, even a state vehicle with a fuel card assigned to me so that I could commute to bridge inspection locations.

The opportunity to diversify my knowledge of different departments related to civil Engineering gave me a holistic internship experience. My visit to various construction sites and the opportunity to witness road paving, bridge deck pour, box culvert excavation and installation made me understand various safety and environmental principles, and the structural applications involved in construction. I feel fulfilled to have had the opportunity to also work with the INDOT research team at Purdue research park, where I aided with the data analysis for I65 and I70 TS deflectometer results.

The weekly Intern programs were a great avenue for me to network and meet other interns, and now have them as my LinkedIn connections. The knowledge I gained from the career development sessions helped me structure my resume to attract recruiters. I even had the privilege to have a conversation with the first lady of Indiana, Janet Holcomb, for the first time and this memory will stick forever.

Going forward, I am confident that I will be able to apply all the knowledge I have gained during my internship in my future workplace. I am convinced INDOT is a place I would like to be, no doubt.  All thanks to his excellency, Governor Eric Holcomb, for this wonderful initiative.

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