Business Center

A Stepping Stone to a Brighter Future: My CDOT Internship Experience

idea poster
lean chart
Chloe Sanders

By Chloe Sanders, Process Improvement Intern
Aug. 15, 2017

After dedicating eight months, 133 working days and 1,064 hours to CDOT's Office of Process Improvement (OPI), today is the last day of one of the most formative internship experiences that I have ever had. When I graduated with dual degrees in economics and psychology in December 2016, I had no idea what path I wanted to pursue because I felt passionate about so many different fields. I soon found a home at CDOT, where I could stretch my design skills, build technical solutions from scratch, create and present training, and learn Lean process improvement and change management methodologies.

Here are some of the projects that I was involved in.

Graphic Design and Marketing Materials

During my time at CDOT, I developed a wide range of marketing materials, which included:

  • creating a poster for our Lean Everyday Ideas showcasing top innovations from around the state.
  • developing visuals for the "Think Before You Print" campaign, which has reduced printing costs by $40,000 to date.
  • making a user-friendly Adobe Illustrator template to share stories of leadership at CDOT. The posters were created monthly and displayed in each region.
  • working with a CDOT colleague to produce a cheat sheet for our change agents to clarify their roles in change management.
  • developing marketing materials for a display within CDOT's headquarters building.

I established myself as a go-to person for design and marketing. The opportunities I had to work on these projects helped me build my design skill set and grow my portfolio—both of which will carry me further into my career.

Database Creation and Process Improvements

Because of my technical skill set, I was well-equipped to make several improvements to our technical infrastructure:

  • I completely rebuilt the database that tracks CDOT's Leadership Traveling Coin recognition program, converting a once clunky and hard-to-use database into a dynamic one featuring live-updating statistics.
  • I created several templates for use with the office's project management tool. These templates provide a standard of work, ensuring consistent information and a good reference for onboarding new interns.
  • I optimized most of our frequently used forms by creating digital versions that can be filled out online, rather than printing them out and re-scanning them.

Presentations and Trainings

My teaching experience made it easy for me to jump right to present to many audiences and develop training.

  • I presented to the Project Management Institute on Lean methodologies. My team and I performed a PB&J process mapping exercise, developed by fellow intern Corey Niemeyer. I trained more than 50 people using the PB&J simulation and passed on this training for use by my successors.
  • I produced a presentation for the American Society for Quality about CDOT's culture shift as a result of our Lean Everyday Ideas and change management programs. I worked with a CDOT staff member to use Visio to illustrate a major shift in CDOT's right-of-way acquisition process. I attended a civil engineering conference, where these process maps were presented
  • I trained CDOT staff on Windows 10 and Apple iOS for the rollout of CDOT's eConstruction programming.
  • I was also invited to teach decision-making as a part of the Leadership Journey II class.

Learning and Career Development

CDOT provided many opportunities to expand my skill set.

  • In March, I became certified as a change management practitioner, which landed me a position with Prosci, a leading change management firm that licenses the class to CDOT.
  • I took classes in successfully applying for state jobs, project management essentials and Lean project management.

Advice for Future Interns

  • Jump into every project that interests you. Some of my favorite projects came to me simply because I vocalized my interest.
  • Take the time to build relationships with those with whom you work closest. Having a supportive team behind you is a game-changer.
  • Never stop learning new things and developing yourself. Excellence is a habit, and you have to commit every day.