As Oliver Reinecke ’19 walked into the room, a quick scan of the crowd confirmed what he already suspected. He was definitely the youngest person at this NASA Aerospace Imagination Conference.
Nonetheless, he had a job to do and the trust of Persistent Surveillance Systems (PSS) – the small company in Xenia, Ohio, where he was interning for the summer.
During these two days at the conference in Athens, Ohio, it was his job to network with prime government contractors and explain why PSS was the company to use when it comes to Wide Area Motion Imagery Systems, military-grade cameras that provide a real-time Google Earth to classified personnel.
“Here I am, interning for what? Maybe two months, and I was the sole representative of PSS at this conference. I was definitely a little nervous but mostly excited, because I felt I had a solid understanding of our product and the communication skills needed to convey these ideas,” says Reinecke, a global commerce major with a minor in German.
“I’m not sure if any business has come of my presence at the conference yet, but I was able to put PSS on the NASA database through a contact at the Small Business Development Center. So, we will see,” he adds.
Reinecke’s 12-week internship at PSS was the culmination of his experience at the Ohio Export Internship Program (OEIP) that runs through the Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business. The course combines a semester-long export market class with an internship at a small-to-medium size Ohio business, like PSS, with a desire to expand internationally.
Reinecke and fellow global commerce major Natalie Zaravella ’20 took advantage of the opportunity as part of learning “outside the classroom.” They took everything they learned during their semester-long course, combined with the problem-solving skills and global thinking developed through their global commerce major work at Denison, and applied it during their assigned internships.
For Reinecke, this included undertaking a wide range of tasks. In addition to attending the NASA Aerospace Imagination Conference, he was responsible for creating a market matrix to identify the top markets for PSS. He acted as a liaison between clients in foreign markets, oversaw proper export compliance, and helped redesign PSS’ website, using his German skills to translate major sections.
“I really did enjoy working at a small business, because you were able to work with everyone. Your job responsibilities aren’t really closed off to just your particular skill set.”
Reinecke attributes the large scope of his work and experiences to one of the benefits of working for a small business. (At PSS, he usually shared the office with only seven other people on a given day.)
“I really did enjoy working at a small business, because you were able to work with everyone. Your job responsibilities aren’t really closed off to just your particular skill set. It’s a group effort,” he explains. “But it can be a challenge: you have to be sure to communicate clearly and improvise when needed.”
In addition to teaching Reinecke lessons of workplace expectations and ingenuity, his internship and classwork helped to establish that he is on the right path.
“It confirmed that I want to pursue my interest in working in the international business world, and I’m particularly interested in the aerospace and automotive industry,” says Reinecke, who will test in the fall to become a Certified Business Professional.
After that? Who knows. But as his presence at the NASA conference demonstrates, the sky could, quite literally, be the limit.