Eleven weeks later and here I am, smarter and tougher with more skills and a larger network. This internship certainly lived up to my expectations and even surpassed them in some areas. Back when I applied, I thought of this internship as a mini-test run of what my future career might look like as a federal biologist with a PhD. I learned that I am capable of taking a dataset I am completely unfamiliar with, finding the story it tells, and hammering that into a manuscript for publication. There is some hype about my work among local ecologists working on different aspects of Biscayne Bay restoration, which is exciting, but my work was just the first analysis of these data. Hopefully, it will inspire more investigations into these birds going forward.
Learning that I’m capable of doing this work well and contributing new knowledge to Everglades science is more than I could have hoped for, but I’m by no means done. I learned that I could use more skills in statistics, which I will remedy with my remaining time in graduate school. And there’s still the manuscript submission process to go through. Plus I have a lot of work to do to finish my PhD before I can even start to think about using the amazing hiring window I’ve earned. This internship was an enormously useful experience that taught me many things about the birds, the scientific process, and the practicalities of working in a federal science agency. Thank you very, very much to the Mosaics program, the Greening Youth Foundation, and the SFCN office for allowing me in.