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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Environmental professionals speak to UD students about careers

April 2, 2012 under CANR News

A number of University of Delaware students spent their St. Patrick’s Day learning about potential career paths from environmental professionals at the 2012 Environmental Career Morning event hosted by the Department of Food and Resource Economics in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR).

Panelists included representatives from federal and state government, an analyst from a consulting firm and a coordinator from the non-profit sector.

After a welcome from Steve Hastings, professor in the department, the four professionals engaged in a panel discussion, answering questions from Hastings, who served as the panel moderator, and from the students in attendance. The panel was followed by a mingling session during which the students got to meet the professionals in a one-on-one setting.

Kate Miller, a senior environmental studies major in the College of Arts and Sciences and an Honors Program student, attended the event and said that the panelists offered great advice to the students. “I feel like a lot of the advice students receive about the job market is either very sugar coated or downright depressing,” she said, “so it was refreshing to have professionals share their experiences in a way that made you feel like even though finding the job you want can be difficult at times, it can certainly be done.”

Miller, who plans to pursue a master’s degree in water science and policy at UD and hopes to eventually work in watershed policy for either the government or a non-profit agency, added that the panelists presented great tips about the hiring process and provided helpful insight into resumes and interview skills.

Erika Farris, a UD alumna and an environmental scientist with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Water, was one of the panelists, and offered up some advice to current students seeking a career in the environmental field, saying that it is important to obtain as much experience as possible and to pursue an advanced degree. She also stressed the importance of remaining open minded when looking for a career. “Even if something does not fit perfectly with your interests,” she said, “you can probably learn something from the experience, and may even discover new interests or skills.”

Farris — who graduated from UD with a bachelor’s degree in 2007 and a master’s degree in 2009, and who had Hastings as an undergraduate adviser — said that she had wanted to be a part of a career day because she can remember what it was like being a student and looking for a job. “I remember being in their shoes, not that long ago, and being uncertain about what opportunities existed with that major,” she said.

Besides reaching out to the students and providing them career advice, Farris also said that she wanted to take part in Career Morning because she was “interested in hearing about the career interests of current students, and learning about what career paths other alumni have taken.”

Jennifer Walls, the principal planner for the planning section of the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC), also sat on the panel. She explained that it is important for students entering the work force to “be flexible and open to job opportunities outside of your major.” She encouraged students to “think outside of the box when looking for jobs, and take part in as many internships as you can as an undergraduate or graduate student. If you can’t find an internship, then volunteer locally.”

Melissa Luxemberg, a senior in CANR and an Honors Program student, said that with graduation approaching, she is trying to keep all doors open as to what she can do for a future career, so she enjoyed being able to speak with professionals from the environmental field. “It was great to pick their brains about the opportunities they think are most promising for someone with my major and degree.”

Panelists included:

  • Jennifer Walls, principal planner for the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s Planning Section;
  • Erika Farris, environmental scientist, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Water;
  • Samantha Loprinzo, analyst for the consulting firm ICF International; and
  • Erin McVey, watershed coordinator for the non-profit organization Sassafras River Association.

Article by Adam Thomas

This article can also be viewed on UDaily

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