Business Center

End of Internship Article: Vivi Engen

By Vivi Engen, Process Improvement Intern

December 21, 2018

vivi engen

Vivi Engen

This morning I sent off the last emails I’d facilitate between CDOT innovators and subject matter experts about employee innovations, finalized a Live the Values! a session highlighting CDOT’s Respect Value that will be distributed to all CDOT employees later this year and made an idea card about an employee improvement made to encourage CDOT employees to carpool to training courses. Sound busy? Sure, but at this point, I’m used to it.

Today is my last day as a Process Improvement Intern at CDOT, and most of my mornings in this office have been equally busy, challenging and rewarding as today’s. I’m leaving an office that thrives on collaboration, innovation and the spirit of continuous improvement to make work better for all CDOT employees. I’m leaving a sharp, resilient team of people that have helped me grow and develop new passions that push the boundaries about what I thought I knew about myself and where I want to go in the future.  I’m walking out the front door this afternoon a very different person than the girl who walked inside nine months ago.

My Biggest Takeaway

No more than a month into my internship, I was sent out into the field to regional maintenance roadeos to spread awareness about our Lean Everyday Ideas program and connect with regional innovators. Let’s just say that it was no secret that I was an outsider at these events and by default most of what I was saying felt like it held little (if any) weight with maintenance employees.

The biggest takeaway from my internship was that in order to get people to buy into your program, initiative, or whatever point you are trying to get across, you have to find a way to be relatable and connect with the people who you want the buy-in from. For me, I’ve found that this buy-in comes down to building a relationship based on trust.

So how did I build that trust with regional maintenance employees? I took a risk and got in the plow truck. Niles Koenigsberg (my fellow intern) and I took turns running over the majority of the obstacle course that most maintenance employees navigate seamlessly in a snowplow. Not only did this make us relatable (and showed people that we could to laugh at ourselves), but it also highlighted for me how difficult and important the work these employees do is to keep drivers safe on the road. Once this mutual connection was made and Niles and I became more than talking heads from headquarters, people started to listen and engage with what we were saying. More than anything, this understanding set the tone for the rest of my time at CDOT.

Now what?

The thread of trust wove its way throughout the rest of my internship in different ways. From connecting and valuing employee suggestions to improve CDOT work, to a department-wide Live the Values program to engage and reiterate the importance of the CDOT Values to all employees, I found trust to be ever present and dependent on successful buy-in and engagement for any project that came my way.

I will continue to hold that lesson close, and never forget to take a risk and get in the plow truck wherever I go.