Where have the last five months gone? It’s my last day at the BLM in Vernal and it’s strange to think I probably won’t ever be back here. Well, in this office, that is. The way it stands right now, I’m going to hang around Vernal until I find a permanent job or I’m accepted to a graduate school program.
That sentence itself demonstrates how much my mindset has changed over the past five months. My original intention for this internship was to gain experience that would enable me to land a seasonal GS-5 position next field season. After that, I had a vague plan of working up the seasonal ladder before landing a full-time, permanent position with the federal government. I worked as a Biological Science Technician (GS-0404-04) for the USGS in South Dakota a couple years ago and since then, I’ve had tunnel vision about working for the feds.
As I stated above, though, that’s no longer my plan. As much as I would love to continue to living a transient life, working as a seasonal for the government, I won’t. Part of it is my personal family situation. The largest part, though, is that I don’t want to. I’ve learned so much during this internship and I’ve definitely felt challenged, but I plateaued around the halfway point. I’ve enjoyed participating in Seeds of Success and helping the weed crew tackle invasives, but I need more challenges. I can bring so much more to the table if given the chance. And it seems the fastest way to be given a chance is to get my Master’s. It’s always been my intention to do so, but this internship has just spurred me to expedite the process.
This internship has also given me more perspective on working for the federal government and I gotta admit, it’s not my dream any more. Don’t get me wrong, I would still work for the government if given the chance. After working in this office, I’ve become more familiar with positions I could qualify for and I’ve made some professional connections so my odds are better. I’ve experienced the downsides to it, though, and I’ve let go of my idolization. My internship has grounded me and forced me to become more realistic. And I’m grateful for it. I’ve been able to use the tools provided by the program to expand my job search to include other entities besides the federal government.
To be clear, I’ve definitely enjoyed this internship! I would (and will) highly recommend it! This has been my first position that’s actually forced me to use a dichotomous key to (sometimes laboriously) key out a species. I’ve learned to identify so many plants, but have also realized that I’ll never know all of them. And while I should be confident in my identification, I should never be afraid to check myself and admit if I’m wrong.
I’ve never actively protested herbicide application to control invasive plants, but I worked in an environmental chemistry lab so sometimes it’s difficult for me to think about where all those chemicals could be leaching. After walking through stands of Russian olive and swaths of teasel, though, I’ve realized that a lot of the time, herbicide application is the only way to control infestations.
Since I’ll be working odd jobs until my next career move, I’ve definitely appreciated the normal hours (and the pay) of the internship. One downside, though, is the copious amounts of driving necessary to cover this area. I’m sure other interns also experienced this, but I am so over driving 2+ hours just to get to a site. I would rather stay closer to the office and hike around, but I realize that’s rather unrealistic in the West.
I’m really happy that I landed a position in Utah as I’ve always been enamored with this state. In and outside of work, I’ve seen a lot of cool things and I’m very grateful for that. I feel like I can move on to other states now and feel content with my Utah experience. As for Vernal itself, however, I haven’t fallen in love with it. I’ve discovered some gems, but in general the town seems geared toward fast food, big trucks, oil and gas, and church – none of which is my scene. After this, I’m aiming to live in a college town again, where I hope I’ll be around more like-minded people.
This has been an amazing experience and I’m immensely grateful to all those who helped me apply for an internship and make the most of it. A big thank you to Nadia, Tim, Amy, Jessi, Krissa, and Rebecca!
Stay classy, fellow interns.
“The world is big and I want to have a good look at it before it gets dark.”
II John Muir II
The Pink Dino – my favorite landmark in Vernal.