Nothing happens in a hurry in Guatemala. It took me three months, the entire first half of my IE3 internship to reach a point where I was happy and productive. But the lessons I got in those three months, in bureaucracy and business in tough environments, have been indispensable.
To understand the challenges of running a nonprofit in Latin America, there is really no substitute for going there and working as an intern. My understanding of social enterprise has been permanently altered.
I came to pilot a program for IE3 at an NGO that provides classes in language and technology. Little did I know I would be entering at a time of gross change and upheaval within the organization. During my time there they lost a fifty-thousand-dollar government grant due to corruption and about half the staff was laid off. They had to roll back an entire area of operations, their storefront, in order to stay afloat.
As a web developer, my role was to help leverage the web as a source of income. I was immediately tasked with completing a half-cooked project written for a system I was unfamiliar with and which was completely undocumented. Add to that power outages, lapses in internet access, and floods, and it’s not hard to see the degree of challenged I faced.
Having worked under such conditions, I truly feel I can work anywhere. From my coworkers I have learned many things; how to work around technological obstacles, how to navigate corruption and office politics, and even the life skills of patience and tolerance.
I will certainly not come home the same person I was when I departed for Guatemala.
You can read more about my time in Guatemala on my Guatemala blog:
For my second MECOP internship I was placed with OECO, LLC, a 300-person company located in Milwaukie, Oregon that manufactures electromagnetic devices and power conversion products, mostly for the aviation industry. I worked for Tim Krajcar, head of OECO’s three-person IT team. My role as an MIS intern mainly encompassed the development of web applications for the company intranet. My applications will be used on the manufacturing floor to support operations.
- Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) System – Web solution consisting of a comprehensive database of MSDS files kept by OECO as per OSHA requirements and an application for management of the database.
This project consisted of several distinct sub-projects:
- Requirements gathering
- Gathering of MSDS files
- Database development
- Application development (general user and administration components)
- User education (including nearly all 300 OECO associates)
- Reconciling the digital system with the pre-existing vertical file containing physical datasheets (printing new datasheets, scanning old datasheets)
- Resin Mix System – Web solution to address costly miscalculations when mixing resins.
- Receiving/Inspection System – Web solution to replace existing MS Access system for processing incoming inventory before use in production.
- Electronic Stamps – Digital versions of stamps used on physical documents such as engineering drawings for a number of uses including conformance with International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR).
- Obsolescence data – Parsing of data stored in an awkward format so that it could be provided to buyers.
Siltronic AG (formerly Siltronic Corporation) is the world’s third-ranking producer of silicon wafers. The facility where I was employed was the company’s only production site in North America. During my time as an intern at Siltronic I worked in several capacities performing tasks in the field of information management for both Tip Rouse in Management Information Systems (MIS) and Paul McKelvey in Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES).
ADE Status Application (Paul McKelvey, MES) – Development of a text-based application to present at-a-glance manufacturing information
Physical Hardware Inventory (Tip Rouse, MIS) – Comprehensive update of a hardware database with all Windows server hardware
General Assistance (Linda Ahner, Resource Management) – Cell phone recycling, organization of physical files, misc.