The Internship Series – Committed To Success

Almost a year to the day (Memorial Day, 2019) prior to starting my internship at Parsons, I remember standing out in the hundred-degree South Carolina heat working with my Cadre on getting our 150 brand new recruits through an obstacle course. As a Basic Training Company Commander, I was responsible for training Army recruits on the basics of being a Soldier. This included everything from putting on an Army uniform, to throwing hand grenades and using night vision goggles.

This a complete 180 from the software development I am doing now, although it’s safe to say my career path was a little bit different than most of the interns (I’d say I’m about a decade older than the average). I have found the work rewarding, especially since I am on the DOD Cyber Solutions team. I know that the work I am doing now will help some of the people I trained on the battlefields of the future.

As a member of the Platinum Team, developing software for non-conventional devices, and within that, I have been placed on a team that develops the automated testing framework for all the Platinum Products. Although it is a little outside of my comfort zone (I’m pursuing a degree in Data Science), it has proved to be a critical experience.

I know the problem solving and software development skills I learned here will only make me that much better as a Data Scientist.

Additionally, not only did I develop important automated tests for the team, I also got to assist in integrating the tests I had written into the production code pipeline for Platinum.

This was also representative of the company. There is very much a growth mindset, and it was clear the employees and management team were committed to our success. Our intern coordinator had made sure that we had plenty of opportunities to get exposed to many of the different sectors of Parsons through a “Meet the Markets,” a series of webinars where interns were exposed to the Cyber and Intelligence, Space and Geospatial, Connected Communities and others.

In addition to the formal webinar series, my mentor has made it a point for me to get some exposure to many of the cool parts of the company. This included sitting in on some of the Parson’s Data Science Team project meetings, discussing what they were doing for the Naval Research Office.

I was also fortunate enough to meet Mr. Chuck Harrington, the CEO of Parsons. He was willing to take a full hour of his time and explain to me a lot of key lessons from his perspective. This included everything from cutting edge research and development projects to how he goes about determining the organizational strategy. Truly a once in a lifetime opportunity to get focused mentorship like that. This was by far my favorite part of the internship.

About the author

Derek W. is a graduate of West Point, (the United States Military Academy) with a degree in Electrical Engineering. He also holds a Masters in Engineering Management from the Missouri University of Science and Technology. After graduation, he has held a variety of military duties including Scout Platoon Leader, Logistics Officer, Deployed Staff Liaison (Kuwait), Observer Coach Trainer (Hohenfels, Germany), and Basic Training Company Commander. He is currently a second-year master’s student in Duke’s Data Science Program. In his free time, he enjoys sports, Data Science, hanging out with friends and family, and martial arts.

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