Alyssa Sikkema

Major: Kinesiology and Health
Company/Organization: Iowa Department of Transportation
Company/Organization website:
Destination: Ames
Timeframe: Spring
Advisor/Coordinator Email:


• Collaborate and assist the Iowa DOT Wellness Team in coordinating a variety of special events and initiatives (walks, webinars) for calendar year 2019-2020 • Assist with aspects of program delivery such as reserving the conference rooms, coordinating with presenters, preparing handouts/materials and setting up webinars • Maintain the Wellness AT IOWA DOT wellness site • Coordinate with Public Affairs Division on all health and wellness programs and services through website promotions, newsletter articles, table events, social media, etc. • Send Wellness AT IOWA DOT monthly agenda and take meeting minutes • Ability to teach and demonstrate a minimum of one group class format related to health and wellness • Deliver a minimum of one health/wellness educational program each semester to Iowa DOT employees • Research, recommend, and implement wellness best practices • Assist the Employee Health and Safety Team with Workers’ Compensation processes


Throughout my internship, I helped create a Wellness Protocol for the Iowa Department of Transportation. Two members of our wellness team are in upper management, and one of the members had been discussing with the Director of the DOT about coming to one of our meetings. I created a draft and then set a meeting to discuss it with a few other wellness team members. There were six of us that were drafting, re-drafting until it was the way we wanted it. I went to the writing and media center on Iowa State’s campus to have our grammar checked. Then we sent it to all wellness members and other DOT employees in our office to make sure they didn’t have any changes. I created a PowerPoint to present to the director during our meeting, as well as giving him the proposal to take with him. This was the most difficult task I have had to complete at the DOT, but also the most rewarding. When I was younger, I used to love speaking in front of people, but as I have gotten older, I get a lot of anxiety speaking before people. I had been leading wellness team meetings, but only 5-10 people would show up. During this meeting, 25 members of our wellness team were in attendance, as well as the Director of the DOT. We initially discussed that the presentation would be done by multiple wellness team members, but it was decided that I would be the sole person to present because it was my idea. I set multiple times throughout the week before to practice my presentation just in front of myself and additionally in front of other interns. I was so nervous. The day came to present and if I am being honest with you, deep down I hoped that he would get called into another meeting. I got to the presentation room early to make sure everything was set up. I’ve always been told when you are about to do something that scares you to look at yourself in a mirror and do a superman pose and repeatedly tell yourself that you can do it. So that is what I did, although I don’t think it worked. My heart was racing so fast and I could feel my voice and hands shaking. I took a deep breath and put my hands down because I knew the information and I presented. I did not remember how the presentation went because I think my brain blocked any memory recording during it. I was told by many individuals that I did a great job. Director Lowe stayed for the rest of the meeting and he had great discussion with our team. There were so many things that I learned from this experience. The first is that the answer is always no unless you ask. For years, they have never even got an email back from the director or management, and I came up with the idea of creating a proposal and inviting him to the meeting. This was a huge step for wellness at the DOT. I learned the value of preparation, without it, the presentation would not have run as smooth as it did. Another thing I learned was the importance of non-verbal language. Director Lowe continually smiled and nodded his head throughout my presentation, and that gave me confidence to keep going with less hesitation. I got ready in the morning with professional clothes and curled my hair. I think the saying is true— “look good, feel good, perform good.” Without the support of my co-workers and wellness team, this experience could have been negative. Surrounding yourself with an influential support group is important. I could go on and on about the lessons I learned through this experience, overall, not being afraid of seizing an opportunity is the stepping stone to success.

What advice would you give?

My advice is you never know what an opportunity will bring. Go above and beyond and you will never regret it.

Career Connections