Students had a chance to meet one-on-one with professionals during the Department of Food and Resource Economics' Environmental Career Morning.

Career Morning

Environmental professionals speak to UD students about careers

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10:22 a.m., April 2, 2012--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. 

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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

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