Meet Intern Alexxa Bessey
What I did on my summer vacation – at Aptima!
The anticipation of starting a new internship can seem overwhelming in any circumstance. However, this was especially true as I let go of my plans of moving to Northern Virginia and instead began preparing for a remote internship as a result of COVID-19. While I was incredibly grateful to still have an internship, as many of my colleagues had lost their internships, I worried that I might miss out on the full experience. I couldn’t have been more wrong! From the beginning and throughout my 3-month internship, Aptima made sure I felt included as a valued member of the team and supported me in my work. Even remotely, the summer I spent at Aptima was filled with new learning opportunities as well as personal and professional growth.
As an Intern at Aptima, I had the opportunity to be involved in a diverse set of projects. In fact, one of the greatest benefits of interning at Aptima has been the wide range of projects Aptima is a part of. As a result, I was able to expand my own knowledge and sharpen my skills in areas such as training retention, usability, job aid development, multiteam systems, wearable technology, and so much more. Another benefit to Aptima is the interdisciplinary nature of the project teams. Across my projects, I was able to work on teams with Industrial Organizational Psychologists, Social Psychologist, Applied Psychologists, Cognitive Psychologists, Human Factors Engineers, Biomedical Engineers, and Software Engineers. On one project, I was one of the few scientists on a team of mostly software engineers. In addition to providing helpful insight from my own expertise, I was able to learn so much from the engineers, including critical thinking skills regarding how to build an online survey platform. As a scientist, I know that survey platforms are incredibly valuable tools. But for the first time, I was able to critically think not just about what items to include in a survey, but how the items are displayed within the survey platform interface.
In addition to project work, Aptima provided several other learning and professional growth opportunities. Aptima hosts Brownbag talks, in which speakers inside and outside of the organization present current projects, research efforts, or other relevant topics. By attending noontime “Brown Bag” seminars, I was able to learn more about the work done by Aptima and external colleagues on several topics that I normally would not have been exposed to. I was also able to learn from my supervisor and mentor. Aptima immediately connected me with my supervisor as well as provided a separate mentor who made sure that I had everything that I needed to succeed. My supervisor and mentor set up weekly or biweekly meetings where they discussed my current projects, ensured I was connected to the right resources, answered any questions, and provided career development feedback. Both my supervisor and mentor were critical to my positive experience this summer, especially making sure that that I felt connected to Aptima.
Overall, I couldn’t have asked for a better summer internship opportunity. Aptima has both impressive organizational culture and strong leadership personnel. For example, throughout my internship I participated in “Aptifit” fitness challenges and joined the company book club. All in all, I was able to walk away from my summer internship not only with additional knowledge and skills but feeling as if I was a true member of the Aptima family.