My name is Jordan Stahly, and I am a junior at Waukee High School. I am currently enrolled in the Medical and Bioscience Research course at Waukee APEX. The first experience I had with APEX was when my older brother took an engineering course. I remember being so jealous of how he got to work with a real business and work on real projects because it made him look so grown up to me. Now that I am in APEX myself, I realize that he looked so mature because it truly is a professional experience. After being in APEX for only a short time, I have already learned so much about the professional world.
I decided to take the Medical and Bioscience Research course because I am interested in majoring in Psychology. This course gives me the opportunity to not only work on projects with businesses but to also network with people who may be beneficial to me in the future. For example, I just confirmed an informational interview with a therapist. I will meet with her at the Waukee Innovation and Learning Center (WILC) and have the chance to ask her about what her job entails. I have already met with Sergeant Zach Brooks from the National Guard about mental health resources they are given in the military. Even though these two interviews don’t directly relate to Medical and Bioscience Research, I still get to explore my interest and learn how to use professional skills.
We have also attended multiple conferences that have been really interesting to me. In the first month of school, Dr. Showalter, my instructor, connected me with a conference about how to support children with mental health issues in schools. I got to surround myself with experts and professionals from my field of interest. I learned so much about what schools can do to support students.
One thing about APEX that is so impactful is how it prepares you for the professional world. Not only do the instructors assist you in using tools like resumes and LinkedIn accounts, but you learn lessons with your business partners as well. The first thing they taught us this year was the importance of being able to accept feedback and apply it to projects. We have also learned valuable skills that you can use in any business setting that I think will be especially helpful in job interviews.
My current business partner is Dylan DeClerck. He runs Opportunity on Deck, which is a non-profit organization that works closely with Waukee APEX. I am working with one other teammate from my course to research the company’s demographics so that they can better understand who they are serving. This will help them apply any necessary improvements to their system. We meet with Dylan weekly to update him on our project, and he gives us feedback on any updates or wrong turns that we have made along the way. Sometimes you may get a piece of feedback that is frustrating because many times that means that you need to redo something that you have worked hard on, but when you do it right the next time, it is super rewarding. The experiences that I have gained from working with Opportunity on Deck are so valuable to me because I know that I will be able to apply them when I am out of school.
At APEX, we don’t take projects that are a simulation. The projects we work on have real-value for our clients. I did not know how real that was until I experienced it for myself. I love going into APEX every day and being treated like a professional because that is what I am. I can’t wait to use the experience and knowledge I’ve gained from APEX when applying to colleges, internships, and eventually jobs! I feel truly prepared for whatever my future has to offer because of my experiences with APEX.