This past Monday morning, I was interviewing for an internship in DC. Just a few hours later, I was dehorning a calf.

All students are required to complete a 10-week internship at Sterling College. In addition to the internship itself, students must also take Work Search class,which helps us develop the skills needed for job-searching. After the internship, students must take Writing and Communications, which helps them process and synthesize their accomplishments, challenges and experiences into a paper, and presentation, which is given to the community.

I am at the beginning of this process, currently enrolled in Work Search, and this Monday was the first time I’ve had a job interview in my life. As I picked up the phone to dial the number, my hands were shaking, and my heart was beating rapidly. I had severe butterflies in my stomach as I waited for the interviewer to pick up. As she began to ask background questions about my education and life experiences, I had to remember to breathe, which wasn’t an easy thing to remember at that time.

As the interview progressed, I began to feel more comfortable, and the conversation flowed. While the internship opportunity was highly specialized, at a public policy group in DC, the questions were fairly generic, such as “what challenges have I faced while working, and how did I overcome then?” While I stammered slightly as I figured out the best wording for these answers, I answered confidently and eloquently. Fifteen minutes later, I left the interview feeling confident and full of anticipation for the potential summer internship.

Later that same day, I was also feeling nervous, but under no circumstances could my hands shake. I was holding a dehorning device, which we were using on the calves that are being raised as part of the animal science course.  We were dehorning the calves to avoid any issues later on, since fully developed horns could cause serious injuries to humans or other steers.

I will note, at this point, that while this was done by students, there was direct veterinary oversight during the entire process. I would also like to add that the steers were sedated and given an analgesic during this, so there was no pain.

Photo by Beana Bern

Photo by Beana Bern

With the encouraging and supportive presence of Faculty member Louise Calderwood, I steadily held a firm grip on the dehorning device, and a couple seconds later, the process was over, and I felt greatly accomplished.

This day, like many others here, was a day of new experiences. These experiences in particular sum up the motto of Sterling College, as well as the name of this blog, Working Hands, Working Minds. In one day, I was grappling with a cerebral challenge, which was how to best show that I am a suitable candidate for the internship position, and then, hours later, I was learning a new skill using my hands.

Ariel Drouault


Filed Under: Blog Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems

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