Business Center

Not Just Another Internship

By Laura Parsons, Process Improvement/change management Intern
Posted: June 27, 2017

Laura Parsons

Laura Parsons
Process Improvement/change management Intern

When I came across the posting for a process improvement internship at CDOT, I wondered how I could apply my background in sociology to become a valuable asset to the team. My previous internship as a traffic engineering intern for the Colorado Springs Public Works Department made me aware of CDOT's work but had provided little exposure to applying process improvement and change management methodology.

Over my nine-month internship, I discovered the value in properly incorporating change management into project management and increasing efficiency through small workplace innovations.

Change management can be best understood as the people side of change, whereas project management is the technical side. When both methods are applied simultaneously, projects are more likely to finish on time and on budget. Focusing primarily on change management, I took on the responsibilities of facilitating CDOT's Change Agent Network (CAN) by interviewing project managers for meeting agenda requests, building the meeting PowerPoint slides and running monthly meetings.

Through this process, I came to realize that my academic background was being directly put into action by analyzing how widespread changes impact different cultures within the organization. Running these meetings built my interviewing and project management skills, and increased my confidence as a facilitator and presenter. Thanks to the support of my supervisors in the Office of Process Improvement (OPI), I presented for the Project Management Institute, the American Society for Quality, the City and County of Boulder, and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization.

Project management vs. change management CDOT's recognition program certificate

As a process improvement intern, I was given the freedom to pursue independent projects. I was interested in the success level of CDOT's employee recognition program and wanted to analyze the program on a large scale. By interviewing several division managers and sending surveys to over 900 recognized employees, I determined areas of success and areas for improvement in the program.

Results showed that the program is extremely beneficial in terms of recognizing employees in behind-the-scenes roles and promoting team collaboration. Feedback showed that encouraging employees to display certificates and setting high standards for leadership qualities that went above and beyond one's standard work responsibilities would increase the program's value.

What I found extremely helpful, was the opportunity to sit with several departments and discuss future careers in those fields. I was given the opportunity to sit in on a quarterly meeting between CDOT's Civil Rights and Business Resource Center and its Environmental Policy Department to learn how each works together to mitigate adverse human health and environmental effects on minority and low-income populations. Additionally, I was able to meet with the Urban and Regional Planning Department at the City and County of Denver, as well as the Office of Employee Development at CDOT.

I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to speak with many knowledgeable individuals to dig deeper into my interests for future career paths and educational opportunities. I cannot stress enough how beneficial I have found this internship and the OPI over the last nine months. Thank you, CDOT!