The entire year of 2020 has been a whirlwind filled with an unprecedented pandemic, economic uncertainty, protests in the name of racial disparity, and natural disasters.
For many college students and recent graduates, this resulted in canceled internships and a tougher job search. As a college student myself, I found myself lucky enough to be offered a teleworking position and while I was disappointed that I was no longer able to move across the country, I considered myself very fortunate. However, I quickly realized that this internship would be unlike any I’ve had before, for various reasons. In addition to the rigorous aspect of the directorate fellowship position I was placed in, I was faced with working from home, something I’d never done before and found myself coping with the waves of emotions I’d hadn’t imagined.
One of the first challenges I was faced with was the unshakable feeling of imposter syndrome, also known as imposter phenomenon, these are feelings of self-doubt and chalking success up to sheer luck. This was particularly difficult because there was no defined solution to coping with it. After sharing my feelings with trusted friends, other fellows, and reciting a lot of positive affirmations I realized that I was not alone in my feelings. I earned my place at the table and I was capable of succeeding. My introverted nature also proved to be a big hurdle, as someone who is generally shy in person and hesitant to introduce myself, teleworking on a new project essentially left me no option but to put myself out there, scheduling meetings and asking questions.
These feelings combined with the turbulent nature of our world really made for some introspection and ultimately, character building. One thing that helped me was the patient and eager nature of those willing to chat with me about the USFWS, hearing about people's experiences, especially women in leadership, truly helped me see the potential I have and gave me the energy to start each day with a goal. I learned that I am often much stronger than I think, capable of accomplishing anything I set my mind to and that there are incredible people out there kind enough to nudge me along the way. At the end of my fellowship, I was asked to present three times including once to people in leadership at our Headquarters Office. As that date approached I found myself incredibly self-conscious, the stakes were high and I kept asking myself “do I have what it takes to present well enough?” I realized I didn’t know if I had what it took but I did know that I prepared the best I could, I was knowledgeable and passionate about my project, I had an incredible set of supervisors, and if anyone could do it, it was me.
As I sit here in my final week I look back at the progress I made, I learned an incredible amount about data management at fish hatcheries and helped kick-off an important project, met extraordinary people, and learned about the power and potential I hold. I’m honored to have crossed paths with the MANO Project and completed this fellowship. I’ll be wrapping up my degree soon and hope to one day turn to the USFWS.
Agency: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Program: US Fish & Wildlife Service - DFP
Location: Sacramento Regional Office