At the start of my internship I had no idea what to expect, and my first few weeks were filled with trial and error.
My very first day I went out into the field without hiking boots – big mistake. The forest that day was mushy and dank, with puddles and mosquitoes everywhere. After that I wore my waterproof hiking boots every day and it made an astounding difference. The tread on the bottom of the boots helped with climbing slopes, and I could walk through as many puddles as I liked. I would highly recommend a pair for anyone who is considering fieldwork. Also, at the time, I didn’t know how to identify poison ivy! For the first few weeks there were many close calls (touching poison ivy with my bare hands – yikes!), but thankfully my supervisor always carried rubbing alcohol to wash off the oils and I somehow never got a rash.
As the temperature warmed up and May turned into June, things started to change. Almost every day was sunny with a temperature in the eighties, sometimes even the nineties. At the beginning of my internship I could make it through a day in the field without a problem, but now that it was warmer I felt exhausted and woozy at the end of every day. Then I finally realized my problem – I wasn’t drinking enough water. Even though I always carried a water bottle and a snack with me, I hardly felt thirsty or hungry and just couldn’t drink fast enough to replace what I was sweating out. After a particularly tough day, my supervisor suggested setting an alarm on my phone so I remembered to drink some water regularly. What a difference! I made it through some of the hottest days of the summer without a problem. The warm temperatures brought along another problem – mosquitoes. Even with long sleeves and bug spray I was getting chewed up every single day. They were biting me on my hands and through my clothes. It was nearly impossible to escape the swarms of mosquitoes that seemed to pop up out of nowhere. Thankfully there were a few quick fixes that solved my mosquito problem. I switched my brand of bug spray and started applying it more often, I wore gloves to protect my hands, and after some searching I was able to thrift some hiking pants. With these fixes the mosquitoes finally left me alone so I could concentrate on my work.
If I had known these things at the beginning of my internship it would have made a huge difference, but I’m glad I figured them out over time regardless. That’s what internships are there for!