Making the Most of Your APE

Making the Most of Your APE

Category : PROspective

Many students are likely just starting to dig into their APEs, but starting a new position can oftentimes feel confusing and directionless at first. If you’re not sure what you’re supposed to be doing at all times, rest assured you’re not alone. While 200 hours can feel like a relatively short amount of time to figure everything out in time to actually accomplish something substantial, there’s so much more to get out of this experience besides your deliverables. Here are a few tips to make the most of your APE!

  1. Get to know your colleagues. Whether it be fellow students, your PI, or staff at the organization you’re working at, these could be your future bosses and coworkers. Take some time to introduce yourself to everyone you might be working with. Regardless of if you work for this organization long term, the better your colleagues get to know you the more likely they may be to write you a letter of recommendation or pass along your resume to their peers.
  2. Keep busy. Its easy to enjoy the slow pace that may come at the beginning of a job or between projects, but you don’t want to be caught off guard when your supervisor asks what you’ve been doing recently. If you have nothing to work on, make sure your boss knows it. You can also try reaching out to your colleagues and asking if they need help on any projects they may be working on. If you still find yourself with nothing to do, use that time to teach yourself something new, like new SAS code, or read up on the field you’re working in. Showing this kind of initiative is sure to benefit you in the long run!
  3. Reflect on your experience. Chances are you pick up some new skills to add on your resume during your APE. Taking the time to think about what you’ve learned, maybe by listing out your skills or journaling about your daily activities, will help you in the future when you need to articulate what you did in a cover letter or are asked to explain in a job interview. Keeping notes like these throughout your APE experience can be helpful as well in order to keep track of what you’ve accomplished and what you still need to work on.

Whether you’re almost finished with your APE already or are still looking for your practicum experience these tips are useful to keep in mind. Your APE is a great way to dip your toes into what your future job as an epidemiologist could look like. Love it or hate, you’re learning something that you didn’t know before.

Featured Image by Saulo Mohana on Unsplash

This post was originally published in June 2022.

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