A future in furniture

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For Sydney Steinauer (statistics, ’18), the wide open possibilities for her statistics major presented a challenge.

"You can use statistics in anything, but how do I find the thing I want to do?" she said.

This summer she found the ‘thing’ in an unlikely setting: a furniture company.

Steinauer interned full-time in Grand Rapids, Michigan, for Steelcase, a global leader in office furniture, interior architecture and space solutions. A sustainability leader, Steelcase researches and designs innovative furniture that creates better workspaces and environments for learning and collaboration.

"It’s the kind of furniture you picture if you imagine Google," Steinauer said. "They have Steelcase furniture. It’s modern and comfortable."

She pursued the paid internship after learning about it at a required career seminar for her Statistics 100 class.

"I decided to apply for the Steelcase internship on the 2 percent chance that I would get it. It was completely surprising and I didn’t expect any of it."

Steinauer spent the summer working for the company’s advanced analytics team on a project related to pricing strategy. She built new models and honed her coding skills.

"I had never used my brain like that before," she said. "In class, we get a data set that might include 50 observations. In my internship, I had to manipulate a huge data set at once. All their interns work on real things. It’s not like getting coffee."

Steinauer hadn’t previously considered working in a corporate environment, but loved the excitement of working on big projects in a team-based environment. She plans to return next summer.

"Steelcase made me proud to be there," she said. "I went to a furniture conference and seeing how people looked at Steelcase and how Steelcase employees looked at themselves made me proud."

"Work was my favorite part of the summer," she added. "I missed my friends here, but to find somewhere where I could make a career and make my future? I didn’t expect that."

The People to People and Business, Industry and Technology Career Fairs will take place September 21. Visit LAS Career Services for more information and upcoming workshops.