By Ms. Ashley Force (Army Medicine)May 9, 2018
Steven Spielberg began his famous movie-making career as an intern at Universal Studios. One of the most influential people of the 21st century, Oprah Winfrey, began her TV career interning at a small town news station in Tennessee. Much like Spielberg and Winfrey, interns have the potential to achieve great things.
For the first time ever, the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Development Activity has welcomed two military interns to join the team, and they are already accomplishing a lot.
Army Capt. Amber Smith and Army Capt. Amanda Roth began their USAMMDA internships in the Program Management Acquisitions Internship Program on August 15, 2017. They will complete their internship in one year, but Roth will continue at USAMMDA for another two years for a follow-on utilization tour.
This year, the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command accepted five interns into the PM-AIP. Three interns are supporting the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Agency, while the other two are supporting USAMMDA.
Roth is spending her year with USAMMDA's Pharmaceutical Systems Project Management Office.
"A lot of this year is for training, two or three years' worth," said Roth, who also serves as an assistant product manager for PSPMO. "I assist the product manager with getting his requirements documents and his acquisition documents ready for some important briefings."
Smith, on the other hand, interns for USAMMDA's Medical Support Systems PMO.
"My desk is the one that has all of the pink stuff," said Smith with a laugh. "At MSS, I do a lot of shadowing under Steve Hawbecker and his team. I've been learning how program managers function."
Smith has had the opportunity to travel while on assignment with MSS leadership and product managers.
"I'm currently on a temporary duty assignment with the Role of Care 3/2+ Program Office," she continued. "In the ROC 3/2+ PMO, I shadow Lt. Col. Brian Haug to ensure we have all of our briefing documents; I shadow some of the other product managers to see the cost, schedule and performance of how the Combat Support Hospital is going to change into the modular field hospital configuration. We focus on the cost and some of the issues we might face."
Both interns said they enjoy the teams they work with.
"The internship is a great opportunity to learn from our civilian counterparts. There is something to be said about learning the ropes from someone who has been able to grow roots within an organization or product -- people who have been there since the inception," said Roth. "For a lot of our products, due to the high regulatory hurdles we have, it takes about 10 years to clear something through the FDA [U.S. Food and Drug Administration]. So it's nice to be able to lean on the people who have the experience and to get their take on things."
Roth is the first 71-series officer in this particular program, and she brings a lot to the table for PSPMO. Her background is in microbiology. Should she stay in the military for a full 20 years, she plans to continue in the acquisition track. An internship with USAMMDA helps connect Soldiers with the next step in their career. The program can connect interns with mentors that have years of experience, for example, with acquisitions and programmatic type roles.
"I think there's a lot of potential for any U.S. Army Medical Command officer -- scientific, medical administration, whatever it may be -- to make a big impact in the acquisitions field here. Long-term post-Army, there's a world of opportunity for anybody who has experience with product or program management," said Roth.
Smith said before she began her internship, she was a medical logistician. Her last assignment was in Djibouti, Africa, for 10 months. Before that, she was in San Antonio as a company commander. She said USAMMDA's intern program has transitioned her into a whole new chapter of her career.
"I'm open to the idea of becoming an assistant product manager, and after that submit all my certifications and get my level-two product manager. Then try to do contracting, and get my level two [in that field], because I'm already level-one contracting," said Smith.
At about halfway through the program, Smith has already recommended the USAMMDA internship experience to other Soldiers.
Roth said she would recommend it to anyone who finds value in the acquisitions process.
"If you find value in the product development lifecycle and you have a heart to watch over and help strategize what our Soldiers are using, this is a great job. I really enjoy it."
Both interns shared a list of things they have learned and are proud to have accomplished so far this year. At the top of their list, they both express their pride for having been accepted into the program in the first place and being the first USAMMDA military interns. They hope to open the door for others in the years to come.