Wow. Just like that, the summer has passed. I complete an internship of a lifetime next week. It’s bittersweet – but I am very proud of what I have accomplished despite my initial feeling of uncertainty. Call me cliché, but I never saw myself coming so far. I graduated with a B.S. in Biology three years ago in hopes to join the environmental field. I took a leap of faith and applied to a M.S. in Environmental Science program two years ago. With a shiny new GPA and internship in tow, I applied to everything I could a year ago. Here I am. I am just like you: I have been discouraged, rejected from jobs, inexperienced in a new field, and worried about achieving success. It makes me teary-eyed just thinking about it. In the span of this 11-week fellowship, I have learned the basics of data management, familiarized myself with water quality parameters, and organized two community outreach events for Latino Conservation Week (LCW).
I’ve always seen learning as an “inside scoop.” I am one of those “Did you know __ is because of __?” people. I remember learning about orogenesis, or mountain-building events, and looking at a map of the world. Or the time I was taught about river evolution, how and why rivers meander, and further learning the differential erosion of rocks controlling the meander. So, my ears perked when I was given a project in data management. It was overwhelming at first, but it’s times like this where you remember where you once began and aspired to be. My advanced scientific thinking is a huge fan of the phrase, “if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it is most likely a duck,” but simultaneously ponders the contradictory thought of whether I am lucky or deserving of where I am.
I have learned so much this summer! Planning LCW events encouraged leadership and persistence, allowing me to engage with like-minded and aspiring environmentalists. The project I was given forced me to work from the ground up and ask questions. It taught me more than technical skills. It exposed me to the differing hydrologic conditions of subarctic climates versus the humid subtropical I was familiar with. I received advice, insight, and kindness from natural resource professionals. The remote-working aspect of the internship did not discount all I have gained. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Photo by Nina Marti. MANO West Coast Camping Trip, Los Padres National Forest.
Cover photo by author. MANO West Coast Camping Trip, Los Padres National Forest.
Agency: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Program: US Fish & Wildlife Service - DFP
Location: Alaska Regional Office