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JoEllen in Lafayette

During her participation in the Summer Professional Enrichment (SPE) internship program at Evonik Tippecanoe in Lafayette, Indiana, JoEllen stepped out of her comfort zone and learned a lot about team spirit. In our students@Evonik blog she talks about her experiences.

#1 - It's not the place, it's the people

That was my thought at orientation in May, when the twelve other interns who would be joining me at the Tippecanoe site flooded me with questions about the place where they would be living for the next twelve weeks. Having worked previously at the Tippe site — and being a proud Purdue University Boilermaker — I had a small glimpse of what was to come this summer and looked forward to sharing my home with other university students from all over the country.

Last summer, I had also worked at Tippecanoe Laboratories as part of an internship program through Purdue. With the encouragement of my boss at Tippe, I applied to the Summer Professional Enrichment (SPE) program at Evonik, searching for an experience which focused not only on improving technical skills but on overall development as a working professional as well. I enjoyed being an SPE intern because there was opportunity for both: I had the chance to apply what I have learned in my coursework to a project relevant to my field of study, and I was able to gain some breadth in my education with the assigned HR project, a research analysis on effective anti-harassment training in the workplace, a topic I got to present alongside interns from other Evonik sites. 

One of the really interesting things about working in a manufacturing environment was the breadth of processes that occur on site each day. As part of the SPE program, my project focused on the digitalization of operational data, such as key process indicators (KPIs) for many of these processes, so I got the opportunity to learn about a variety of these processes. It seemed like every day, I had a chance to work on something new, and that was exciting for me. Some of my favorite memories from working at the Tippecanoe site were the tours of production buildings; from getting to see the production buildings capable of producing high-potency APIs to watching the solid waste incinerator run one of its quarterly campaigns, Tippe is a great place to work for those of us who appreciate a little bit of “flavor” in our work.

Something that truly surprised me about my summer was the amount of things to do in the greater Lafayette area that I had never done before, despite living here during the school year since 2014. Most weekends, my fellow interns and I would try to find something new to do – by the end of the summer, we successfully completed a 12-mile kayak journey at nearby Turkey Run State Park, sampled the local restaurant scene at Taste of Tippecanoe (an Evonik-sponsored event!), and I personally learned how to do a headstand at a local yoga class. 

As a Purdue student, I typically hang out around campus most weekends, so I think the other interns helped me look beyond my normal comfort zone to experience things I may not have done otherwise. Ultimately, the truly wonderful people I got to know this summer shaped my experience for the better. I’m extremely grateful for the other interns for going through the SPE program with me and giving me the chance to explore my community a bit more. 

I am even more thankful for the Evonik employees who were always available when I needed help or guidance, especially my boss, who has become my greatest mentor. All the relationships I built this summer not only helped me become a more rounded professional, but if it’s possible, they made my city and my workplace feel even more like my home.

So, it’s not the place, it’s the people: but maybe it’s the place, too.


On the students@Evonik blog students who work at Evonik share their experiences about life in the company.


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