Business Center

Intern Success Story: Laura Rutz

By Michael Horn, Process Improvement Intern

May 20, 2019

Laura Rutz joined the Colorado Department of Transportation’s (CDOT) Office of Process Improvement (OPI) as an intern in the Fall of 2014. She had been attending Regis University, as an Organizational Development major, when in her last year as a student she decided to expand her learning experience through application and found an interesting ad on Indeed for a Process Improvement intern. Laura jumped at the opportunity to build upon her Organizational Development knowledge and was very excited to join CDOT’s OPI, working alongside Gary Vansuch, Cheryl Wright, and Michelle Malloy.

Neal, Alex, Chavirat

A Learning Experience

Laura had originally began her education as a computer science major, with a strong interest for technology related to computer programming. Laura’s eyes grew bright, and a smile came to her face as she proclaimed, “I’m very techie, I love to code.” Though, the social side of her personality would eventually lead her to actively participate in numerous leadership organizations in college, which gave her exposure to how things work at various levels of government. This was a turning point for Laura, and she excitedly stated, “I started to pull together my interest in how organizations operate and use technology, as well as my interest in government efficiency, and decided to change my degree to Organizational Development with a minor in Computer Science.”

Fortunately for Laura, this internship would be a launching pad towards her future. There was no delay in her journey to becoming a knowledgeable professional in Lean and Change Management principles. During her first week as an intern, she was privileged to be exposed to her first Rapid Improvement Event. Laura continued to increase her knowledge at CDOT by working on projects with the Operations and Maintenance team, and by applying Lean principles in conjunction with technology to improve the accuracy of project data collection.

During one conversation deviation, Laura expressed the importance of relationship building with regards to Change Management and Process Improvement. “I was given a really valuable tip by another process improvement expert, who said if you're going to be successful at organizational change, make friends with the communications and technology teams. They will be two important groups that can help drive successful change.”  The weight of Laura’s advice is confirmed by her quick rise from a techie college student interested in organizational development to a skilled improvement professional. Then again, I think it may be safe to say the “very progressive, innovative culture” at OPI had an impact on her career outlook.

Next Steps

After Laura completed the OPI internship, she became the Lean Program Leader at the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing. There she was involved in process improvement efforts that spanned multiple State agencies and reported out her projects directly to the Governor’s Office. After that, she joined the staff at the Governor’s Office of Information Technology as a Business Analyst, where her team excelled at providing internal business analysis for all agencies across the State of Colorado. In turn, she developed a keen outlook for C-level problem solving and a good understanding of corporate cultures.

In her current position, Laura serves as a Continuous Improvement Specialist for the Performance Improvement and Accountability Division at Denver Human Services (DHS). Her team facilitates various process improvement events and leadership trainings each month.  Moreover, she has a front-row view of what successful process improvement looks like when she walks around DHS. Laura displays a strong quality of social purpose and accountability. In conclusion, she states, “The two things that I'm most passionate about are helping people and making efficiency in government. Here I get to do both”.

How Do I Hire Interns?

Learn about how to utilize CDOT’s internship program in your division by referencing the CDOT Collegiate Internship Handbook.