August is ending and so is my internship. This summer really went by in a blur. Things are wrapping up; I have a presentation in an hour, this blog post due tomorrow, and last-minute pieces of my project that I am trying to get published before I go. I thought long and hard about what to write about in this blog post, but I decided that I wanted to share my personal growth from the eleven weeks I spent in the DFP program.
I did not finish my project. I say this hoping I am not the only DFP. If my younger self would have known that I would not finish my goal for the summer, I would have been incredibly disappointed with myself. I used to think that achievement could be characterized by checking boxes off a to-do list. However, I learned this is a toxic way of thinking.
In week six of my internship I realized how implausible it would be for me to finish the entirety of my project. I felt a sense of doom. Week seven rolls around and I am making as much progress as I can, but between things getting approved and making edits to my project, I found myself making slow progress. It is now week ten and I have learned to accept what I once would consider “failure.”
I am proud to say that the incompletion of my project is not a failure, but a great accomplishment. This imperfect perfect situation was what I needed to focus on the bigger picture. This summer challenged. It pushed me out of my comfort zone and made me grow as a person.
My personal growth is my proudest accomplishment. At the beginning of my internship, I thought I knew how to be a leader. I took a conflict management class a few quarters ago in college and I am a field team leader for a research project, so I thought I had a clear understanding of how to be a leader. As soon as I had to facilitate my first meeting with species experts, I soon realized I had no clue what I was doing.
Asking for help is tough because it can make you feel vulnerable. I am proud that I asked for help and acknowledged my limitations. My preconceived notion that people would be disappointed in me or think that I was not smart enough was met with patience and kindness. This moment of growth is what really allowed me to improve as a leader, gain more confidence, and form a new understanding of group dynamics. Currently, I would not say that I am a skilled leader by any means, but with the knowledge I have gained from my peers, I would say that I have come a long way.
Agency: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Program: US Fish & Wildlife Service - DFP
Location: Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office