This blog post is a little late in the making. It always takes me a little while to reflect on a job or experience. When I originally moved out to Idaho I really struggled with a culture that I felt was much more conservative and closed-minded. I have always viewed myself as being well suited to deal with conservative rural communities despite being a very liberal leaning person from a large suburb of the Twin cities. I had never lived in an area with so much religious influence and the farms and ranching operations were quite a bit bigger than I was used to in the Midwest. Additionally, and perhaps most importantly, it was my first time living out by myself and not at a bio-station or other living arrangement that often comes with technician work. These factors challenged me throughout the season although I got used to them quickly. Like a lot of challenges, they turned out to be excellent living experiences. While I don’t miss the general mindset of the state, I did become accustomed to it, and feel that a prevailing culture is not a reason to avoid an area, but it does make things harder.
Looking back there were many challenges and learning experiences. Some of the obvious ones were learning new skills and sampling techniques, becoming familiar with the area and culture, and learning how to manage a crew, even a small one. The not so obvious ones included living in a new place, finding the energy outside of work to explore, exploring the surrounding Idaho, and personal and professional challenges with coworkers. A lot of these were really difficult and often left me drained or unhappy. But in retrospect, the best place to be looking at them from, these challenges are the most important things I’ll take out of this internship. The places, events, and people that challenged me will be the teachers I have to learn from.
I enjoyed a lot about my time in Idaho. As I drive around my home town I realize that often I’m not seeing the streets in front of me, but a mental map of Twin Falls, with all the landmarks I’d come to know, is projected on top of what’s actually in front of me. I look at old pictures and miss the beauty and smell of sagebrush, the shape of buttes and foothills, and the giant canyons that gave the landscape its surprise and drama. I can’t imagine that Twin Falls would ever become a permanent home, the landscape is settled into my heart and I would dearly like to spend more time there. I had a lot of fun and came away with several wonderful friends and one of the most important friends I’ve ever had. I was able to take trips in nearby states and see some amazing things I didn’t know existed. If the chance ever arises, go to Dinosaur National Monument.
My internship expanded my skillset and gave me the opportunities to build confidence in many different ways, particularly in trusting my own judgment and knowing that I don’t know as much as I think I do, but that’s ok. I have a wider range of tools at my disposal both internally and externally. The opportunity to work with other people in my office and in other offices such as the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, allowed me the chance to ask many questions and see the topic of management through many different lenses. The internship also helped define what I’m interested in doing in the future. It reaffirmed that I wish to go into management, but helped me better understand in what possible capacities and what areas definitely aren’t of interest. This has been a fantastic experience that I am so lucky to have had.