From Assistant to Presenter | #4

My favorite thing about being placed in the civil rights department at the USDA is that someone finally found a way to combine both of my majors! One of my supervisors told me that she wanted to hire me because of my background in Political Science and BCN. Weird, right? Everyone’s always so confused when I tell them I’m double majoring in these two fields that are so different from one another.

However, being in the civil rights department, she knew that she wanted to use my BCN background to implement changes in our agency. After hearing that, I was so excited to begin my journey in DC. Originally, I was a little hesitant to work at USDA, since I had no background about this agency. However, this totally changed my perspective on things.

When I got to the office, I was initially told to help out with with a presentation on a game changer. They wanted to implement the New IQ: Diversity and Inclusiveness into the workplace at USDA. My role involved incorporating neuroscience evidence to the importance of this initiative. Everyone knows and always hears about incorporating diversity in the workplace, but by providing this scientific evidence, I was supposed to give them a new way of looking at things.

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It was amazing being able to incorporate two things–civil rights and psychology–that I’m so passionate about. What made it even better was that while I was making talking points for my supervisor, she told me she wanted me to present at the SEPM (Special Emphasis Program Management) Training Workshop! This is a two day USDA training workshop for employees around the DC Metro Area.

I was so excited and nervous at the same time! I am used to presenting information and presentations, but this was in front of professionals in a specific field. However, I knew I had to be comfortable doing something out of my comfort zone.

The training was in Maryland, and I had never taken the metro to that area. So evidently, I got lost getting there, sweat so much on my walk from the station to the hotel, and then showed up late to my presentation. As soon as I walked in, another co-worker was going over my slides. I was so disappointed and upset, and walked straight to a table to sit down.

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However, the coordinator came to get me and comforted me since I didn’t know what to do. He made them go back a few slides and had me do my presentation from the beginning. Since I was so nervous, sweaty, and embarrassed, I thought I rushed through my portion and did a horrible job. I  went through my slides and then walked over to the coordinator. In a fatherly way, he comforted me and told me I did a great job.

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Obviously I thought he was just being nice, so I tried to keep a good face and went back to my seat. I was planning on leaving as soon as the networking break started because I wanted to avoid talking to anyone. However, when the break started, so many people approached me to congratulate me, talk about my presentation, ask questions and to talk about my own life. I loved hearing what they had to say and was so glad people enjoyed the presentation. It gave me more confidence and allowed me to believe that I actually did a good job.

As I walked out of the building, I was so happy that even though I had a rough start, I was able to successfully give a presentation in front of so many USDA employees. Being an intern, I never thought I’d be given an opportunity like that. I was planning on writing, editing, and assisting with less important tasks, but being trusted with a project/presentation this big was such a unique and amazing experience for my first internship!

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