This is a letter to my mentor. This is a letter to the people who have taught me, supported me, and welcomed me into an environment that allowed me to grow. This is a letter to those who cared about my success and did everything they could to help me achieve my goals. This is a letter to ACTNext.
When I first walked into the Davidsen building on the ACT campus, I was terrified. I felt severely unprepared. This building had cubicles. It had security badges. It had incredibly intelligent scientists who researched topics I knew nothing about. I found myself being thrust into a world I had no experience with. I couldn’t fathom why I, of all people, was chosen for this opportunity. But I was grateful, and determined to learn and assist in any way I could.
I was welcome with open arms and wide smiles. My supervisor, Andrew Cantine, provided me with an extensive tour and a few simple editing tasks. I hope I could do this, I thought. And I did (much more quickly than Andrew had anticipated). Though I was insecure, I was determined to prove myself—not to Andrew, exactly, for he had already seen something during the application and interview process that deemed me the right choice for the intern position. I suppose I was determined to prove to myself that I was ready. Interning for ACTNext was my first foray into the professional world. Throughout the years I’d had part-time jobs as a waitress, a cashier, to support myself while I attended the University of Iowa as a full-time student. Suddenly, I found myself in a place I had actually wanted to be, that allowed me to utilize my talents as a writer, an editor, a thinker.
What was initially a three month internship turned into a six month internship, due to the generosity of Andrew, Ada Woo (Senior Director of Strategy Implementation and Operations) and Alina von Davier (Vice President of ACTNext), and ceaseless pestering on my part. Over the past six months, I was lucky enough to help write about and edit documents pertaining to the 2017 Educational Technology and Computational Psychometrics Symposium in Iowa City (I also had the opportunity to attend the event, and, honestly, was a bit overwhelmed by the fact that I’d never before been in the presence of so many great minds in one place). Additionally, I participated in implementing ACTNext’s social media strategy, which was challenging, at times, but taught me how to be concise and informative. Perhaps my favorite task was conducting interviews for the ACTNext website. It allowed me to have personal interactions with people who have influenced not only ACTNext, but the educational sphere as a whole. It was inspiring to discover all they have done. It was inspiring to discover what I could become.
As I reflect upon how I’ve changed, I can’t help but notice that I sit a little bit taller, I speak a little bit louder, and I don’t hope that I can do anything—I know I can. I have made impactful connections with people at this company that I will not forget. When I enter the Davidsen building for the final time, I will do so with confidence. This is a letter to my mentor. This is a letter to my friends. Thank you, everyone at ACTNext, for giving me the experience and the confidence to be a better version of myself.