I was a little more than excited when I found out I would get to head home this summer. I may still be five and half hours from home, almost at the Canadian border, but at least I’m in home sweet New York. I am spending the summer completing an internship at a dairy farm that milks a little over 3,000 head. I have been spending my time doing some reproductive work, herd health work, and focusing on milk quality. When I applied for this internship, I did not expect to get it. There were a few reasons for this. First, the position was created in order to find people who had potential for a full-time position on the farm, and obviously I will be heading back to vet school in the fall and this is not an option. The second reason is that in all honesty, I always assume that someone who grew up around cattle and on a farm will get the position over me. In fact, I often find it extremely awkward to even be asked if my family farms because I feel that it automatically is a strike against a belief in my ability to be competent. Honestly, I get slightly frustrated in having to explain why I am interested in the dairy industry. It always seems like I have to try and prove my interest in order to be taken seriously, instead of just being able to say “My family farms.”
I have now worked on several different dairy farms and have spent the past five years learning everything I could about the dairy industry, but all too often I find myself not feeling confident in my ability to be a good dairy practitioner and contributor to the industry. When applying for this internship I felt the need to explain to others why I wanted to do this rather than more veterinary medicine-based position or research. I’d go on defending how I believe it will help me be a better dairy practitioner and be more proficient in consulting clients, and looking back there was absolutely no need. I am confident that I know what is the best for me and what I need to do for my future, and I encourage everyone to think about this a little more when choosing what to do with their time off. Do not feel forced to try research if you know that is not for you just because a few researchers told you that you should. If you need the money and want to waitress all summer and not do anything animal or science related, that is exactly what you should do. Be confident in your choices and do what you know is going to make you the happiest and be the best for your future. No two people walk the same path, so create yours as you please.
In the past two weeks I have also been reminded how important it is to be confident in your own ability. I did not grow up on a farm and I may have only begun my interest a few years ago, but I have worked really hard to gain the knowledge and skill set that allowed me to be chosen to complete this internship. Sometimes I really need to remind myself of that. I was so scared to start because I had never spent time on a larger size dairy, and I honestly just didn’t want to get in the way. I went in and tried to be as confident in myself as I could. I reminded myself that I was capable of doing this job, and that it was okay to admit that I didn’t know something or that I needed a refresher. I still get extremely intimidated working around others who have been involved with livestock their whole life, but I am much more confident in my ability to keep up. I am confident that I can succeed in this position and eventually be a more than adequate dairy practitioner, even if I have to keep reminding myself of that.
Overall, I wanted to get a few things across here. You know what is best for you. Be confident in your choices and do not feel like you need to explain them to anyone else. Secondly, be confident in your ability. There will ALWAYS be someone with more experience than you. There will always be someone who knows more than you, and those who know different things than you. Use every opportunity and person as a way to grow and learn. Just because someone may have more experience, does not make you incompetent. Growth and learning are not linear processes so work hard, be open, admit when you need help and be confident. You are capable.