I think it is about time that I include Job Seeker in my employment history. Some days, it certainly feels like a full-time job. I would even argue as a Job Seeker, you are on the clock non-stop. One has to be accessible at any time to quickly respond to emails and receive incoming phone calls. Then, I feel guilty not searching the cavernous depths of the internet at all times for fear of missing the right opportunity. There is always this sense of anxiety that lives within my chest. With every new application, a feeling of anticipation.
While I can assure you I am most looking forward to finding the right job for me, I admit that this process has taught me much about myself. Most importantly, the post-graduation jitters of “OK, now what?” have disappeared. I feel that I have a clear idea of the type of career that I wish to pursue. This would not be possible if I had not had to scour over – at this point – thousands of job advertisements. This new found clarity has focused my passion within the environmental field and allowed me to set goals and aspirations moving forward.
Much of what I have learned has been through personal growth. At first, the job-hunt was disappointing and would hurt anyone’s ego. The weeks of waiting with no response, the bombardment of emails of rejection, or hearing that I was not selected for the next round of interviews began to wear on my self-esteem. However, this allowed me to turn inward and reflect on the process. Often times, I am competing with 500+ applicants for one job. In the world of entry-level, it is difficult to stand out. With this in mind, I began to focus on my strengths. Competing with those who have been in the workforce, what I may lack in experience, I can overcome with passion and drive. I own my strengths. I believe in myself. The hardest part in the job-search is getting that foot in the door, standing out as a shark amongst a pool of goldfish.
Through the job search, I find that I have gained or enhanced qualifications that are often strewn throughout the job advertisements. Take for example: “Excellent written and oral communication skills.” I see it on almost every job advertisement in some form or another. What better way to learn how to write or communicate professionally than through interacting with employers? Often, the requested cover letter or writing sample is handled by a Human Resources Representative, an individual who may not be familiar with the technical background or experience illustrated in your writing. As a result, the job seeker has to eloquently describe biogenic volatile organic compounds or erosion and sediment control practices in a way that remains technical but that resonates with a recruiter. Then, following up on an application requires a professional dialogue via email or phone. Through the job search, I believe I have demonstrated “Excellent written and oral communication skills.”
For every cover letter that I write, a tapestry is woven combining my work and education experience and the company and job position. Another common qualification: “Possess the ability to perform (online) research.” Each cover letter written for a specific employer requires research. This includes company history, mission statement, recent projects, etc. I often look beyond a company’s website and search technical articles published, learn more about particular projects, discover employees and the work they have completed, or any recent news article. Often times, this not only helps stich together the cover letter, it enables to me to ensure that I stay current within the field while in the hunt for a career.
Take some of these other common qualifications:
- Ability to complete tasks in high pressure setting, outstanding organizational abilities and a strong attention
- Ability to work independently
- Experience with Microsoft Office, Excel
- A proven self-starter
- Adaptive; willing and able to learn new subject areas quickly
- Excellent judgment, flexibility, optimism, modesty, and graciousness
These qualifications were all pulled directly from job advertisements. Ironically, many of these qualifications I feel I have demonstrated through being an active job seeker.
I don’t think you will see Job Seeker on my resume anytime soon. But I do recognize that many of the skills requested in job advertisements are skills that will not be out of practice because of my extended job search. My intention is not to sound cynical. Rather, I am grateful to have the opportunity to learn about myself, to interact with outstanding professionals throughout the industry, and to further develop my passion for the environment. Fingers crossed for continued success on my job hunt!
I took the elevator down seven floors. I stepped off into the lobby and met the cohorts of people - like me - sporting their well-pressed dress shirts, ties, and shined shoes. We walk in mass to the convention center some three blocks away. The journey in the humid air proved impossible to prevent the sweat from beading on my brow. Stepping into the cool and cavernous convention center, myself and the other young professionals made our way to the registration booth. All a little bewildered at the enormity of the space and the excitement of what was to come, we filed into ques like livestock waiting to be checked in. One by one, we approach the table and confidently utter our name as if we belong. We don our name tag and are handed "the book" - the holy grail for the events in the week to come. As we wait for our fellow colleagues to register, the excitement of attending the 92nd Annual American Meteorological Society Conference in New Orleans strikes me like a bolt of lightening!
After attending my first American Meteorological Society (AMS) Conference in Seattle in 2011, I learned of the many opportunities with AMS. With the help of the contacts I made at the conference, I applied for a scholarship through the AMS. Several months later, I was notified I had been selected to receive the Saraswati (Sara) Bahethi Scholarship. Along with a large stipend to help with tuition, the scholarship also pays for recipients to attend the upcoming AMS Conference to be recognized for "demonstrating academic excellence within the atmospheric sciences." Several thank you letters, research papers, exams, a graduation, and months and miles later, I arrived in New Orleans on January 20th.
The Student Conference began early on a Saturday morning. Sitting with my Penn State pack, many enjoyed introductory remarks by truly distinguished professionals in the meteorology community. However, I was hesitant of what the conference would bring for me. I had occluded my meteorology education by taking classes surrounding environmental sciences. My passion hadn't been forecasting the latest winter weather whiteout or chasing traumatic tornadoes through the plains. My passion is relating the weather to the environment, water resources, and climate. Could anyone at this conference capture my attention in this realm? A few speakers in, I decided I needed to change my mindset - an attitude reversal. Instead of focusing on how uninteresting the equatorial stratospheric Quasi-Biennial Oscillation (QBO) or atmospheric radiative fluxes were to me, I decided to focus on observing and learning.
I had been given this wonderful opportunity to attend a professional conference in one of the most historic cities in the country. It was a thrill to be attending a convention of real meteorologists. It would be a shame to not take advantage of the opportunity. I straightened my tie, pulled up my dress socks, buttoned my suit, and readjusted my attitude. Within minutes, I was enthralled by the next speaker, Dr. Lynne Carter. She works at LSU in climate science. Her background is oceanography and I appreciate the perspective that she brings because of this. She also works with the US National Assessment on Climate. The room focused, all I could see and think about was her presentation. I summed up her work as one part science, two parts people, and a splash of passion. "Climate ADAPTATION is key," she said. "Community resilience is important," she said. "Communication is essential to successful climate PARTNERSHIPS," she said. She spoke with conviction and passion! I had to have the opportunity to engage with this woman who was so passionate and focused on the human dimension.
After lunch, I approached her and asked if we could chat for a bit. She obliged. We sat and talked for thirty glorious minutes. I really enjoyed talking with a woman who was so passionate about science and people. She gave a lot of good advice and things that I will always remember. Climate adaptation is a LOCAL issue, but an INTERNATIONAL problem. EDUCATION is essential to change the public's PERCEPTION about climate change. Moreover, it is important to adapt to climate change as opposed to MITIGATE the problems. Big difference. We parted ways with one last piece of wisdom: climate science is so interdisciplinary and many people don't understand that.
I thought a lot about that. I mean think about climate change, it impacts so much: water resources, soil, agriculture, forestry, oceanography, meteorology, geosciences. It also takes strong knowledge in the social sciences to effectively communicate the sciences to the public. This got me thinking. Our climate changes. It requires the work of many to ensure that as a society, we are prepared, educated, and understand our climate. Regardless of human induced or natural changes, does it really matter? Cue Kristen Averyt!
As scientists, many feel that there is significant statistical evidence to accept that the climate is changing. So why not adapt to it!? Ms. Averyt from Colorado State University says why does it matter the source of the change? Why don't we adapt and become more SUSTAINABLE as a nation? I feel there is enough bureaucracy in climate science, but there is also enough science! So why not make changes to the way we live, develop communities, etc. in order to be more sustainable as a people.
My learning and observing continued throughout the conference. I enjoyed attending presentations on educating the public, the latest tornado outbreak, hydrology, and even a presentation by Dr. Jane Lubchenco of NOAA about "Our Weather Ready Nation." I toured the exhibition hall and interacted with many companies that are leading in the field of meteorology. I perused the poster sessions and saw hundreds of posters representing the latest research in the field. I interacted with fellow students and professionals from across the country.
In my free time, I made sure to tour the city as well. I got to see plenty of the famous French Quarter and enjoy some of New Orleans finest eateries. I enjoyed sweet bennetts from Cafe Du Monde and a tasty Po' Boy from Mothers. The trolley ride to Tulane University through the garden district may have been the highlight though. The art scattered across the Tulane campus was truly beautiful. The bold, french-inspired homes throughout the area were breathtaking. And the historic mausoleums which are so unique to the area were quite a sight to see. I think what I enjoyed most though was gaining appreciation for the history behind the city and seeing the resilience of the people that live there. I enjoyed talking to the owners of a strange yet quaint bar and food shop near the convention center, or listening to the locals tell you their story waiting in line for the trolley.
What I learned while in New Orleans is that I am in control of what I take away from every experience. Attending a meteorology conference when my passion was environmental science didn't excite me. But, with the right attitude and a little bit of passion, I came away with some great memories, a lot of really good relationships with people, and a little bit of indigestion... New Orleans gumbo is spicy!
Wow! The last few months have been some I will never forget. So much has occurred as of late that has shaped me and the direction of the rest of my life! Well, let's get down to it!
I GRADUATED FROM COLLEGE! What an accomplishment! I was so excited to have the ability to graduate early while saving so much money on tuition! It was a difficult decision to graduate early. I mean, who really wants to give up a lifestyle of eating pasta, working on calculus equations you probably never will need again, and socializing. In all seriousness though, I love Penn State and the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences so much, that it was a difficult decision. In the end, the advantages of saving thousands of dollars and not taking out any more student loans were to great! It wasn't until December that I filed for my intent to graduate, just two weeks before commencement. Because of this, I am a little late to the game looking for a job, but no worries.
I am hitting the pavement hard looking for a job in a field that I can become passionate about. Throughout college, I have been very interested in water resources and environmental management. I hope to continue in a field that combines my love for water, science, and people. There are several job openings that look interesting. Right now, it is just a matter of getting the applications out and waiting to hear back. I am excited to hear back from some of the positions, in particular GKY & Associates, Inc. and their Environmental Scientist position. As I continue the search, I will continue to update you on all the happenings on the job front. Hopefully some exciting news in the weeks to come! :-)
"Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away! You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go."
- Dr. Seuss
Today marks the beginning of the eighth week of classes. I went into this semester conflicted on numerous fronts regarding my educational and professional career path. The options spun in my head with little clarity. I am truly passionate about several things. But how do I bottle up all my passions into a purpose. My passions: people; communicating; environment; and problem solving. I sought numerous options in a hope of uncovering the "right" path for me. My options are confusing and convoluted and difficult for anyone to ascertain, even myself. There are several of combinations including graduating a semester early, graduate school internationally vs. in the United States, gap year before graduate school, cooperative education (co-op). On top of that, I am in the midst of choosing a specialty within the numerous different fields that I am passionate about: meteorology, hydrology, environmental management, etc. There is so much anxiety that exists today amongst students. The competition is unbelievable. And the pressure is extreme. I was so focused on choosing the "right" path. But I didn't have a definition of "right." Does anyone really? All of these options and anxieties only made the pressure insurmountable.
And now eight weeks in, I am still just as conflicted. However, I feel like I have learned a few things in the last few weeks - thanks to Dr. Seuss. I often reference my childhood hero who vividly portrayed many of life's moral lessons. Similarly to Dr. Seuss, I am not caught up or plagued by the lust for success. I need to remind myself that I am on the hunt for a career that isn't a career, but a passion. We may not get it right the first time, but I realized that everything in life is a learning opportunity. With the knowledge that you gain, you are only that much closer to the "great places" that "you will go." I believe that I am the type of person that will create the opportunity that fulfills my passions by enabling me to interact and help people while using science and logic to solve problems. At the age of twenty-one, I do not need to know exactly what that is yet. As long as I can say that what I am doing doesn't interfere with my morals and that I did my best, I will be happy. Knowing this takes the pressure off slightly. Phew! While I still have to make a decision by the end of October, I know that whatever that decision will be, it will be the right one because there will be no wrong decision. My mountain is waiting to be discovered!
"Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!"
Follow my quirky thought processes, my fears, my triumphs as I begin to apply to jobs, co-ops, and graduate schools.