Throughout my internship there were some rough spots, and at times I wondered if I had what it takes to be a field researcher. The whole time I worried that I wasn’t as knowledgeable as the other interns – definitely a case of imposter syndrome. As the weeks went by I tried my best to do my job and look like I knew what I was doing. By the end of the summer I felt genuinely confident that I was on the same playing field as the other interns. My “fake it till you make it” strategy really worked! Despite my worries I truly learned a lot this summer. I’m now comfortable with identifying some common plants and trees, looking for signs of deer activity, planting saplings, and so much more. I learned how a typical field study was conducted and got to see how much work really goes into a field study and its resulting scientific paper.
Looking ahead, this internship absolutely changed and clarified my plans for the future. Before this summer I had an inkling that field work would be right for me, and my work over the summer confirmed what I suspected all along. Going into this internship my goals for my academic and professional career were a bit hazy, but this experience gave me the clarification I needed. Based on the advice of my supervisor and coworkers, I changed my fall class schedule to include two field lab courses – woody plants and forest ecology. For once I’m genuinely interested in my classes and excited to start school again. Beyond that, this experience confirmed that I may want to continue my studies in graduate school once I finish my undergraduate degree.
Overall I learned more than I thought I would this summer, made some new contacts, and most importantly got some clarification on what I want to do beyond my time here at Michigan.