Reflections on my Personal Contributions while at Avascent

In the final week of my internship, I am reflecting on all of the work I have done throughout my internship, but specifically the work I was able to complete during my final project. This project was longer in length and gave me more time to solicit feedback, get guidance, and contribute meaningfully to the final product we delivered to our client. For this project I took ownership over building a model of past satellite communications (SATCOM) spend in the U.S. and how specific programs have evolved in spend and in focus. While I received help from everyone on my team with this task, I took it from the research stage to the final graph and analysis that was presented to our client, senior international government officials. This was possibly the most rewarding part of my internship: seeing my own research and slide design actually incorporated into a presentation given to important and influential members of an international government. While I feel like most, if not all, of my work has been helpful or contributed in some way, seeing the final products of slide design and research in the final copy of a deliverable was extremely fulfilling. Beyond that, I often found that my role as an intern with minimal experience could also be helpful in helping the team step back from the project and ask themselves some very fundamental questions whose answers may seem obvious to them, but not the final recipients of our product. When we started building the storyline of our deck for the final project I worked on, I found that my lack of expertise in space technology had me asking what must have seemed like very basic questions to the rest of my team. Things like the difference between narrowband and wideband satellite communications, the use of difference protective technologies in tactical communications and strategic (ie nuclear) communications, and the feasibility of commercial players hosting payloads that could effectively protect information that would be detrimental if intercepted were topics that appeared confusing to me having never really learned about SATCOM before. However, in the first client meeting that I sat in on for this project, I found the client asking very similar questions which gave me the confidence to emphasize the need of incorporating basic analysis and explanation to enhance clarity and impact of our recommendations. The importance of “stupid questions” was mentioned in our training, but I really saw the impact of that and how interns with less experience can provide valuable perspective to people whose experience can sometimes cloud the bigger picture.