UD alums return to campus to share insights into environmental careers

March 15, 2013 under CANR News

University of Delaware students interested in pursuing environmental careers had the opportunity to learn from UD alumni who are now professionals in various environmental fields at the second annual Environmental Career Morning held on Saturday, March 9, in Townsend Hall.

The seven panelists at the Environmental Career Morning included:

  • Maia Tatinclaux, a graduate student studying environmental engineering at the University of Maryland;
  • Samantha Loprinzo, associate at ICF International;
  • Matthew Loaicono, market analyst at Monitoring Analytics;
  • Kristen Atwood, research assistant at ICF International;
  • Chelsea Halley, environmental scientist at the Site Investigation and Restoration Section of the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control;
  • Kristen DeWire, assistant attorney general in the Office of the Attorney General, Maryland Department of the Environment; and
  • Alex DeWire, environmental scientist, Tetra Tech Inc.

The panel was moderated by Steve Hastings, professor and associate chair of the Department of Applied Economics and Statistics, who organized the event and taught all of the former students on the panel.

College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) Dean Mark Rieger was in attendance and he addressed the panelists, saying he was pleased to see all the alumni come back to help educate the current students. “Our graduates go out and do wonderful things and they change the world. So I’m so glad that you took the time to come back here and tell about your journey and how best to get from here to do that,” Rieger said.

The panelists talked about their personal experiences, ranging from trips to Cameroon with the Peace Corps to spending months working places part-time before finally landing a job in their desired field and, of course, the differences between college and the working world.

“Working and having a job and having bosses and deadlines, there are definitely higher stakes,” explained Atwood. “If you miss a paper, or if it’s a day late in college, you can apologize to the professor and maybe get a little markdown, but if you miss a deadline in the working world, it’s definitely a bigger deal. I had to learn how to keep better track of what I was working on and what I needed to get done.”

Loprinzo echoed those thoughts, saying, “You really have to be on top of your work and it’s important to set your own deadlines. You have to motivate yourself to get everything done and be organized enough to keep on top of everything.”

While the panelists did offer individual nuggets of wisdom, there were some pieces of advice that were universal. For instance, all the panelists agreed that taking some sort of communication or public speaking course while still at UD would be incredibly beneficial to the students.

“No matter what job you do, you have to be able to communicate well,” explained DeWire.

Tatinclaux agreed, saying, “Communicating and public speaking and being confident, that’s really important. Just in the interview process, it’s so important to be friendly, open and have a level of confidence when you’re talking to your potential employer because that goes so far.”

Loprinzo even talked about taking advantage of places on campus like the Career Services Center, as she explained that she went there as a student and took part in mock interviews to prepare for the real world interviews she would face.

Other important skills mentioned by the panelists were an understanding of statistics, the ability to manipulate large data sets and proficiency in software like statistical software and geographic information systems.

UD Alums return to talk about Environmental CareersAll of the panelists also stressed patience in applying for jobs and perseverance because with so many people applying for a finite number of jobs, it might take students awhile before they are hired. Loaicono explained that he applied for about 200 jobs before finally landing the one that he wanted.

Loaicono also said that when going in for an interview, it is important to learn about the company and to come up with 5-10 questions to ask about the firm during the interview. “The more you know about the company, the more that you’re interested in what they’re actually trying to do,” is beneficial, he said, adding, “Even if you know this is going to be a steppingstone, you definitely want to ask good questions.”

Other pieces of advice included looking at job descriptions posted on-line for “buzzwords” to be included in resumes, tailoring resumes every time to fit a particular company’s needs, attending career fairs and making connections, remembering names and faces and the importance of a master’s degree, while at the same time understanding the risks of incurring mountains of debt in student loans.

Halley, who graduated just one year ago, stressed that it is important for the students to take a wide range of courses while they are undergraduates, as it will help to inform them — like it did her — on what they like and what they don’t like.

“When I was choosing classes, part of me just wanted to take all science classes but I did branch out and take some economics classes. It is important to have that wide background and also to see what you like and what you don’t like. I took a wildlife course about birds and I hated it and it made me realize that I don’t want to work in fish and wildlife. But I didn’t know that until I took that course so I think you learn something from every course, whether it’s negative or positive.”

In the end Hastings summed it up for all those in attendance, saying that finding a career is “not a straight road. It’s a crooked road to get where you want to be and you just need to keep that in mind.” And though the road is crooked, he added that the crooked road can also be “kind of exciting, as well.”

Article by Adam Thomas

Photos by Danielle Quigley

This article can also be viewed on UDaily.

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Natural Resource Management turns out law school students, legal professionals

August 7, 2012 under CANR News

Renee Connor had wanted to be a lawyer since high school and thanks to the University of Delaware’s Natural Resource Management (NRM) program, she is well on her way to achieving her goal. Connor has been accepted into the University of Maryland’s Francis King Carey School of Law.

Connor, who graduated from UD in 2012 with a double major in NRM and political science, said that after figuring out that she wanted to pursue a career in law, she had to decide which branch of law she wanted to study. “When I looked into environmental law, that seemed like something I’d be really interested in,” she said, adding that it made sense to major in NRM to pursue a career in that field.

The NRM program, housed in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, helped Connor in many ways but she said that perhaps the most significant benefit was providing her with enriching and diverse coursework. “I took a lot of classes in different areas,” said Connor. “I took economics classes, science classes and policy classes, and I feel like it was a good major to prepare me for law school because you have to understand a wide range of topics to do environmental law.”

Steve Hastings, professor in the Department of Applied Economics and Statistics and at the Agricultural Experiment Center, said of Connor’s acceptance into law school, “Renee was a very focused student who knew she wanted to be an attorney — she worked hard to achieve that goal.”

Hastings echoed Connor’s sentiments about the plethora of educational opportunities afforded to those who choose to major in NRM.

“NRM is an excellent interdisciplinary major that exposes students to both physical and social sciences,” said Hastings. “It is this mix that makes it a great preparation for law school or graduate school in a variety of areas. In fact, which area to pursue is the hardest decision the students have to make.”

Connor joins a number of NRM graduates who have gone on to law school and become lawyers. Among them is Kristen DeWire, a 2004 UD graduate who works as an assistant attorney general in the office of the attorney general in Maryland. Specifically, her role is to represent the Maryland Department of the Environment.

DeWire said that she decided to study NRM at UD because of her love of outdoor activities such as camping and hiking. She also said that she thought she would be more successful in the policy side of environmental issues instead of “focusing on environmental science or environmental engineering.”

She also enjoyed the fact that the NRM major would give her a diverse group of classes from which to choose. “Being able to do analysis and analytical writing through communications, economics and environmental law classes, and from internship experiences, was really helpful in terms of being able to think critically and analytically about applying theories to particular sets of facts, which is a lot of what legal practice is.”

DeWire added that the science classes she took, from soil science to geology, provided her a head start when it comes to examining legal cases in those areas and the work has proven beneficial when talking with experts and preparing for cases.

DeWire also said that the small classes sizes, the excellent faculty and the “family environment” of CANR added a lot to her undergraduate experience.

Internship opportunities

One thing that Connor and DeWire have in common is that they both took advantage of an internship opportunity while they were undergraduates in the NRM program.

Connor worked at UD’s Garden for the Community, an internship she said she really enjoyed because it gave her a hands-on experience working outdoors.

DeWire had two internships during her time at UD, both sponsored by CANR’s Delaware Water Resources Center. The first involved working on a paper focusing on the impact of a Supreme Court ruling on the federal jurisdiction over wetlands in Delaware, and the second involved her working at the Water Resources Agency (WRA) surveying a stream running through UD’s campus and making recommendations for restoration.

Article by Adam Thomas

This article can also be viewed on UDaily.

 

 

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