It’s More Than Just a Job

It’s more than just a job. You read about it online, you see what the employees say about it, you see what magazines and websites say about it, yet you can’t completely understand it until you are immersed in it.

Life is a process of trial and error; sometimes you get it on the first try and sometimes it’s a long, yet enlightening road. Going into the summer of 2016, I didn’t know what to expect. After all, I just finished my sophomore year of College, and like most, had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. Not only was I unsure about the Medical Technology field, but the Marketing role I was about to step in to. I was ready to embark on my journey to finding the right career, and bought a suit and some new dress shoes to wear along the way.

I can honestly say the process of trial and error was not one that lasted as long as I originally accounted for. A mile down the road on my journey to occupational happiness, I found my home. Stryker from the first step made me feel at home. The internship program allows you to transition into the working world with meaningful and real work. It was more than going into my day and just working at my desk. The experience was wholesome and a constant open book. There was never a day where I didn’t learn something brand new.  Whether it was learning the anatomy of the spine, observing how our systems work, experiencing the different roles of marketing or witnessing the progression of an idea; each day I grew personally and professionally. And what more could you ask for in an internship? In a confusing time in our lives, we should have the chance to be properly educated. However, this education does not typically come from a Fortune 500 CEO or his Senior Leadership Team.

But most importantly, you want to like what you are doing. You want to be welcomed and feel like part of the family. You want to know that somehow, the work you are doing is making a profound impact on someone’s life.

These are all things that I can confidently exclaim I experienced at Stryker.

Michael Lowther Picture

Michael Lowther

Spine Product Marketing

College of the Holy Cross

Summer Puzzle

I started this internship puzzle with two pieces in my hands, my academic coursework and my research knowledge. As a rising senior I was determined to add the industry piece to my undergraduate experiences as a Biomedical Engineering student. In the search for learning and working hard, I was excited to land at this Stryker R&D internship, a challenging environment that allowed me to expand my knowledge and required me to go beyond the extra mile. When I heard my manager saying “R&D stands for Research and DOING,” I knew I was in the right place.

I was offered a summer-long term project based on updating a device with the goal of solving a significant clinical issue, where I was able to go from an idea to having two prototypes in my hands. Although holding the prototype felt as if I had solved the “puzzle of life,” I believe the most important lesson hides in the process required to develop the solution.

The development started with a team of surgeons showing the difficulty of using the existing device during a cadaver lab, expressing the need to incorporate new features. The process continued with engineering brainstorming sessions, where I learned one of the most important lessons this summer: What to do when stuck in a puzzle? Look at each of the pieces individually and try to assemble them one-by-one! This method of isolating the problems was essential. It was only when I looked at each of the sections of the device individually that I was able to focus in each of the pieces and start putting it all together. After completing the computer design iterations, the puzzle turned into a prototype.

Adding the industry piece to my puzzle has been a rewarding experience and has allowed me to incorporate my previous academic and research skills. In addition, the internship program afforded us the opportunity to be part of the full Stryker experience, including participating in multiple social and volunteering events, attending leadership talks, and networking with other interns and employees.

Kevin Lobo and interns

Picture taken after the Trauma & Extremities town hall meeting with Stryker’s CEO and other summer interns. Yes! I introduced myself, and yes! I asked him questions. From left to right: Maria V. De Abreu, Kevin Lobo (CEO), Neha Syal, Carolina Caicedo

For both my long term and short-term assignments, I was able to combine working independently with receiving continuous feedback from my supervisor and other members of my team. Managing my time, communicating efficiently, and applying engineering and biomedical concepts were fundamental skills that helped solve the puzzle. My Stryker experience allowed me to think big to challenge myself to do more and be better, work hard to push myself out of my comfort zone, and achieve the projects goals beyond the expectations. Overall, it was not about the pieces but how they worked together.

Maria deAbreuPineda

Maria V. De Abreu Pineda

Stevens Institute of Technology

Stryker R&D, Trauma and Extremities

Mahwah, NJ

Kalamazoo Intern’s Take Over Park Place Assisted Living

Every summer the Kalamazoo interns get together for a Volunteer Day! For the past 2 summers I’ve been lucky enough to plan the volunteer event with a team of 9 other intern leaders. You would think that every organization would love to have 79 volunteers for 8 hours of free labor, but it’s actually a challenge to keep that many Stryker minded people (driven, hard workers) busy all day.

For the past 2 years we have gone to Park Place Assisted Living. They are a living home for the low-income elderly. The owner, Dan, refuses to turn anyone away, and often takes in residents who can’t pay their expenses. Because of this great outreach and service they provide, Park Place can only afford a small maintenance staff (our first year they only had 1 person for all 5 buildings!). They were so excited when we asked to come back a second year! We do landscaping, extreme cleaning, and we throw a carnival for the residents; projects that they normally can’t get to throughout the rest of the year. The residents and staff LOVE the work we do! The residents love having visitors, especially because most of the people at Park Place don’t have family nearby. We get to bring energy, life, movement, and fun to the halls of Park Place.

It’s so much fun to get to talk to the residents throughout the day. Bill, the war hero, was very reserved at first, but he brightened up and told all sorts of life stories to us. Carol enjoyed telling us about all her family members and how they were doing in school. And two of the dementia patients entertained us; Dave played the piano while Mary, a former tap dancer, danced around the room with anyone who would join her. It was really funny when another dementia patient Jannie kept making one of our interns, Tyler, change her shoes! He changed them literally every minute…shoes to slippers, slippers to shoes.

Overall it was a great day for everyone! I had fun planting flowers, talking to the residents, and getting to hang out with the other interns outside of work. Stryker is an amazing place to work because we care about people. All people! Employees, customers, hospital patients, and our community. Through events like the Intern Volunteer Day, you see how much Stryker cares.

My name is Hallie Green, and I go to Western Michigan University. This is my second summer, and 3rd internship with Stryker Medical in Kalamazoo. I’m on the marketing team for our Patient Care unit (beds, surfaces, furniture), and I love my team members! They have always been so helpful and have included me in lunches, after-work events, and other fun stuff around the office. (I’m in the second row on the far right of the large group picture).

kalamazoo volunteer day 2

Hallie Green

Western Michigan University

Marketing – Stryker Medical (Kalamazoo, MI)

What’s HCS (Healthcare Systems) Anyways?

I accepted my internship offer at Stryker knowing next to nothing about what I would be doing all summer.  I didn’t even know that there was such a thing as a healthcare system, let alone why Stryker needed an entire team dedicated to them.  Well, it’s safe to say that 12 weeks later, I understand.  I spent my summer pouring over databases housing massive amounts of cross-divisional customer data and working with analysts to ensure that the data was accurate and easy to interpret for both our operations and sales teams.  This was real, impactful work.  Any doubt that my summer projects wouldn’t matter was dispelled on my second day, when my manager Erin and my mentor Jim handed me a document detailing all of my summer objectives along with the various effects that they would have on the business.  Everyone was so welcoming and supportive throughout the summer that if I didn’t know any better, I would’ve forgotten that I was an intern.  I truly felt like part of the team, and I got to experience everything from rooftop team dinners to consultant presentations on the state of the healthcare industry.  It’s easy to see why our Director reminds us every week that we are the #bestteam at Stryker.

However, working with my team was only half of the fun.  What made the experience truly remarkable was Stryker’s Finance Training Development team.  They worked tirelessly to organize job shadows, lunch and learns, leadership panels, and networking events where we got to explore different aspects of Stryker’s business and meet people ranging from analysts to VPs and division CFOs.  I learned as much from attending the events they organized as I do in a typical semester at school.  Not only that, but they also organized a group case study, where finance interns worked in teams of three to put together a presentation outlining Stryker’s financial position and the new initiatives taking place.  At the culmination of the internship,  we spent a morning presenting our findings to an auditorium full of finance big shots.  FTD was like a team away from my team, and the FTD manager was there all summer to advise and support us. She would even set up one on one meetings to check in and make sure our experiences were all positive.  FTD pushed me to do all the things that I was terrified of when I started at Stryker, and it made all of the difference in my professional development.

Last, but certainly not least, we interns had a lot of fun outside of work.  We were able to go to a baseball game, where we had our own private area and all of the hot dogs and burgers we could eat. We also went to the Airway Fun Center, where we spent our night bowling, go-karting, and traversing a ropes course.  Through these experiences and many others, I cultivated many amazing friendships that will last far beyond this summer.

As I’m writing this, I’m struck with a bittersweet mix of feelings.  I’m sad that these three amazing months are coming to a close, but incredibly proud of what I have accomplished and how much I have developed.  This summer has certainly been one to remember!

Matt Rittman

Purdue University

Healthcare Systems, Finance Training & Development

Kalamazoo, MI

Making a Stryker-Sized Impact

To say that Stryker interns play a huge role in each division is an understatement. I came in to my internship at Stryker Neurovascular expecting to work on some small side projects. Little did I realize that I would be given the same exact work as my full-time coworkers; with them, I was to utilize Tableau, a software tool, to create more powerful data visualizations pertaining to the NV Quality team.

Being a Stryker intern, you’re given a lot of responsibility. People say that all the time, but it’s really true. In the first week itself, I had to learn how to navigate 3 different database platforms, not to mention familiarize myself with the vast array of stroke products. There wasn’t much time to ‘ease’ into the job – I was jumping right in! Each week brought a new adventure, whether it was attending an R&D session where I got to use a simulator to fill an aneurysm using various Stryker coils, to driving up to the Mountain View site to see the manufacturing line, or going to The Chainsmokers concert with fellow interns for our intern social event.

Not only does Stryker delegate meaningful work to their interns, but the company is also full of amazing people. People are always willing to help – to share their knowledge, and give you the resources you need to succeed at what you do. Not many people can say that a coworker in New Jersey who they had never met offered to have a Skype call to help with one of their projects. Or that another coworker from Michigan flew out to California to hold a Tableau workshop to help the team and myself better understand the tool and how to use it. I feel so lucky and privileged to have met such brilliant, dedicated, and hardworking people at Stryker, and I am humbled to have had the opportunity to work alongside them. My team was so incredibly welcoming and helpful; I could always count on them to patiently explain how the Trackwise database system worked, or to tell me when there was extra food in the breakroom.

Even though my internship is slowly winding down, this summer here at Stryker has been an experience I’ll never forget. Words don’t begin to describe how amazing it is to see the project I worked on get sent to the group president, and to see that the hard work I put in all summer gets put to use. I’m so glad that I was able to make a difference at Stryker, just like the internship did for me!

puja

Puja Subramaniam

Quality Intern – Neurovascular (Fremont, CA)

UC Berkeley

Slightly Uncomfortable

Internships. Over the years the concept has acquired a negative connotation. We’ve all seen the movies and heard the horror stories of interns past. But in today’s culture, internships have become a must—both for college students looking to get ahead and for companies that want to find and grow the innovative leaders of tomorrow.

Thankfully, the job description of a typical intern has transformed greatly over the last decade or so. Stryker in particular does an outstanding job exposing interns to the “real” stuff. No more fetching coffee, pointless filing, organizing, or observing from the sidelines. The projects we are given are not for practice; they are real life business problems we are asked to solve, and real life initiatives we are asked to launch. We are challenged to test boundaries, ask tough questions and get comfortable outside of our comfort zones.

Recently I was asked to share the most valuable thing I have learned during my time here as an intern. The answer came to me like answers usually do, on a run. Ironically, I realized while running, that running itself is the perfect way to explain my conviction on this matter; the perfect way to describe how and why being uncomfortable is a good and developmental thing.

Let me explain. When running long distance, you can’t just exert all of your effort at once. You don’t want to be gasping for air and feeling like you’re about to pass out (or actually passing out) on the side of the road. In the same way, you shouldn’t be trotting along effortlessly. To be successful in running long distance, you can’t push too hard, but you have to be uncomfortable enough to keep improving.

Since I started at Stryker, there has not been a day that I have felt completely at ease. I am constantly presented with new challenges, new people, new projects, and given the trust and accountability to face them on my own. While seemingly intimidating at first, these experiences have helped shape me both personally and professionally. I am surrounded by people who are driven to perform, driven to compete and guided by an internal compass that is pushing for results. They actively search for new challenges, and consciously push themselves to the edge of their comfort zones, knowing that this, and this alone, is the only way to improve, the only way to grow.

So, with the last few days of my internship in front of me, I’d like to offer a piece of parting advice to future Stryker interns:

Lace up your shoes and get ready to run. When things get uncomfortable, lean into the discomfort rather than fight it. Persist through the hard miles and challenge yourself every day to get better. With each experience and each mile that passes beneath your feet, you’ll start to feel it: Growth. Improvement.

Yes, as an intern some days will be scary and uncomfortable. But most of the days, like most of the miles, will be somewhere in between, right on the edge of comfort. And slightly uncomfortable, I’ve decided, is the best place to be—in running and, in many ways, in life as well.

 

Kristin Mormelo

Coastal Carolina University

Corporate (Kalamazoo, MI)

 

 

Expectations vs. Reality

Hello! If you are reading this it means that you are either a prospective intern at Stryker, or you have accepted a position and are looking to learn more about the company and paint a picture in your mind of how your summer internship will appear. Seven weeks into my internship at Stryker Neurovascular in Fremont, California, I am hoping to export some of the lessons I have learned and provide some information for you. If you are anything like me, I’m sure you have already compiled an abundance of expectations in your mind. I’m here to clear a few things up.

Expectation: Like in school, the requirements for my projects will be clearly laid out and I will have a curriculum provided that will help me get there.

Reality: While you will have an advisor, a mentor, and plenty of other helpful and bright co-workers to help answer your questions, your tasks will not be laid out for you, and there is definitely no grading rubric. A big part of entering the working world is discovering your own talent and tailoring each work day to maximize outputs and efficiency.

Expectation: Stryker’s naturally competitive environment will make it difficult to form friendly relationships with those around me.

Reality: This expectation honestly could not be further from the truth. You will make friends with everyone you meet at Stryker because everyone is very welcoming and driven toward a common goal. Your intern class may be from various parts of the country and your team may originate from very different technical backgrounds, but Stryker’s strengths-based talent recruiting allows everyone to bring something to the table.

Expectation: It will be virtually impossible to apply the theories I have learned in school to my internship because my education is too broad and my projects are too specific.

Reality: Some of the best work you will do over the summer will more than likely stem back to a skill you learned in university. Whether it is a software you learned, an engineering principle you mastered, or simply a writing technique that has been drilled into you, your education can prove to be a valuable tool that, when wielded correctly, can bring about success. There is a reason that many high-level positions in the company require a certain degree, education is power.

Expectation: Working at such a large company, I will feel lost and/or unimportant in the vast complexity and various operations that are required to make Stryker run smoothly.

Reality: The truth, that you will be a component within a part within a system within a machine, is unescapable. However, every component plays a unique role and is necessary to the proper functioning of the machine. Additionally, you will have the power to show that you are a pivotal component that is worth keeping around. Stryker does an excellent job of making every intern feel as though they hold significance within the company through team integration and endless exposure opportunities.

I hope I was able to clear up some preconceived notions you may have had about working at Stryker. The reality is this: Stryker has given me a real summer to remember, a few projects to write home about, and a network of friends, co-workers, and mentors that hold a special place in my career and in my heart!

Josh Lazar

Josh Lazar

California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

Neurovascular (Fremont, CA)