I am the old guy in my cohort. But being the old guy is not such a bad thing.
I applied for ANRP during one of the last semesters of my master’s degree. I figured that if I was serious about jumping into the world of public policy and eventually wanted to land a job with a three- or four-letter agency job, this would be the perfect opportunity to increase my chances of making that come true. Despite being in the throes of thesis research, I knew I wanted this experience and made it happen. However, unlike most students who are fortunate enough to be accepted for an internship with either ANRP or PPIP, I am not the “typical” intern.
I graduated in the Fall of 2015 with my bachelor’s degree. After graduation, I worked as a regulatory official for a state agency for several years before deciding to return to Aggieland and continue my education with a graduate degree. However, I hadn’t realized that the time I spent working helped groom me for an even more enriching graduate student experience than I had initially expected.
The years I worked full-time in my first post-graduation job taught me a lot about being an adult. Technically yes, you become a legal adult at 18, but I would argue that becoming an adult takes much more than simply reaching an age. Even the four-ish years that students spend in college are often not enough to make them adults. There is some level of sheltering that occurs by being within the college experience (e.g. having a structured class schedule, living in a dorm or with roommates off-campus, etc.).
However, after getting that first job after college, I began to learn a lot about myself and what I was starting to want in my life. I began to recognize my strengths and the types of jobs to which I could lend those strengths. I even narrowed down what type of career field I found most interesting and would likely become my career.
Since starting graduate school, I have found that I may take a greater appreciation for the courses and experiences I have daily. I suspect that it’s because I see the purposes behind the exercises. Where it fits in the puzzle. Why things are often the way they are. And during this internship, that has continued to be a reoccurring theme, especially as I get to see what an effect the policy process has on all of us.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s not such a bad thing being the old guy in the cohort. I thought I might struggle being 8, 9, or maybe even 10 years older than some of my cohort peers. But I’ve found that I am probably enjoying myself more than if I had this experience as an undergraduate. I am thankful for the opportunity to intern while in graduate school and would recommend that anyone on the fence about doing the same choose to take the leap. It’s worth it being the old person from time to time.
The Fertilizer Institute
Summer 2022 | Washington, D.C.