Reflection on working with Aequip
By Ananya Saha
As I sit writing this during my last few days at Aequip, I’m still wondering how quickly these past three months have gone by- time really does fly when you enjoy the work that you’re doing!
Back in November last year, I was sending out internship applications. Despite already having a part-time placement role, I wanted to get more experience during my days off, and that’s what led me to email Dr Rachel Carey, the Chief Scientist at Zinc. Dr Carey was an associate of my placement supervisor and was kind enough to forward my cover letter and CV to various startups.
A few days later, I got a response from Michael at Aequip. I remember being nervous for our initial introduction, simply because it’s not every day that your pre-interview is with the CEO of the company itself, but in the first 5 minutes, I was fully at ease. Miriam was also present at this meeting, and for almost an hour, we spoke about our backgrounds, what Aequip wants to achieve, and what I would like to get out of a potential internship.
It was obvious to all of us that what I wanted to learn from an internship was exactly the kind of experience that Aequip would offer, and by the end of the week, I was invited to another “interview”. I write that with quotation marks because although the nature of the meeting was interview-like, it was more of an informal conversation. I spoke about my interest in organisational psychology, and the kind of tasks and responsibilities I might want to be involved with, and Michael agreed that there was a good deal of alignment between us.
Things moved pretty quickly after that and before I knew it, I got an internship offer! I think what drew me to applying to Aequip was its product- I loved the idea of having an app to track employee DEI. Having experience with psychological surveying and having worked at a tech-startup before, I was very excited to further my skills and get more experience at my internship.
And the team at Aequip has consistently given me the opportunity to do all of that, every step of the way. Both Michael and Lilly Phillips, an advisor with Aequip, sent me some important readings to familiarize myself with key concepts such as Inclusion and Psychological Safety.
I was also shown a demo of the existing product and told about my role in improving it. This way, Mike, Miriam and Patryk, as well the wider team ensured that I was ready to dive into work in my very first week, allowing me to make the most out of each working day!
But it was not just straight work, work, work from Day 1. We started with an icebreaker introductory group meeting, where each member was encouraged to wear a funny hat and share a story about it. I think this was a great way for people to introduce themselves and their backgrounds. Michael’s crab hat stood out and I remember thinking “whoa our CEO is dressed like Sebastian from The Little Mermaid!”
Throughout that week, we had 1-1 introductory sessions with members of the team. Although we had a list of icebreaker questions, our conversations usually flowed very easily and naturally, and I was excited to work with people from such a diverse background.
When I started working at Aequip, I had very little idea of what goes on in the product side of the business, so sales jargon usually went over my head. But Sarah, our Product Owner and QA Engineer, was very helpful in getting me acquainted with our project management software. Saadat, Patryk, and Dan were also kind enough to always define the terms they used during the product team meetings for the benefit of people with a more academic background like myself.
For the first few weeks, Dr Lukas and I worked together on developing the Inclusion Index* and Nudge engine. Although we are both from the University of Bath, this was my first time working close with him, and he has been like a mentor to me in many ways from teaching me how to classify research findings to suggesting skills that I could apply when writing my dissertation.
A few weeks ago, Dr Rupert Gill also joined the Research Team. Apart from blessing my screen with his adorable cat Edna, Dr Gill has also been very helpful in guiding me to carry out behavioural mapping and researching nudges. This way, I have been able to try a little bit of everything at Aequip, ranging from questionnaire design to literature reviews to even developing a nudge engine. Looking back, I think it has been a very productive three months!
Working at a startup is always exciting- things move very quickly and because the team is small, you can easily see the contributions you make, which is very rewarding and satisfying. Another benefit of working closely in a high-performing team is getting the opportunity to try new things-
Michael and Miriam, as well as the rest of the team, were always open to letting me try my hand at new tasks. This freedom to “do what you want” while also being under structured supervision was exactly what I was looking for when applying for internships!
I spoke with Miriam recently who mentioned that although Aequip was not actively looking for an intern, they looked at my profile and decided to have a chat to discuss if there was any role available for me. Looking back, I am so glad that I took the step to send out my CV to Zinc.
Applying for internships is often nerve-wracking, especially when the companies aren’t advertising for internship roles. But I’m glad that Aequip created an internship position for me. My three months with them have been nothing short of exciting, goal-driven, and eventful, which is usually the kind of experience you’d expect to get from an up-and-coming startup.
What Aequip does differently from other startups and succeeds at is practicing what it preaches- it fosters an environment of psychological safety. I have had reservations before working at organizations. My fear was two-fold: would I be taken seriously as a woman of colour, and also, would I be taken seriously even though I am “just an intern”.
And so far, I have not only been given the platform to openly express my thoughts and feelings, but I have also gained more confidence in the process. And that’s usually paradise for a placement student like myself- working at a company that not only allows professional but also personal development. And I will always be grateful to the team at Aequip for providing me with that.
Ananya Saha is a psychology undergraduate student at the University of Bath. Ananya joined Aequip as a Occupational Psychology Intern, hoping to gain valuable work experience during her placement year. “As an up-and-coming start-up, Aequip offers exciting opportunities for aspirational psychologists like me to observe how psychological and behavioural science principles can be meaningfully applied to real-life organisational contexts.”