Monday, March 4, 2013
Family: Kara Ronchetti (Spouse), Merlot (Cat)
Major & Minor: Comprehensive Environmental Geography
Year Graduated: 2011
Current Employer: Burns & McDonnell Engineering
Length of Employment: 1 year
Interests and Hobbies: Hiking, cooking, and making my wife smile
What helped you decide what route to take after graduation (i.e. graduate school or type of job)? My age. I was a non-traditional student at the age of 30 when I graduated. I was eager to start a professional life, so I could retire with some pep left in my step. As for the type of job, I wanted variety. I didn't want to be behind a computer every second of my professional life.
What do you think gave you the edge to get your current position? I would say that is three fold. Having had professional experience in the way of internships and student work, the references that come from performing at my best in those positions, and a solid GPA.
Describe your typical day at work: As an environmental specialist, working mainly in a GIS support capacity for the Environmental Services and Permitting division within Burns & Mac, my job is wide ranging in tasks. Though much of my work revolves around GIS and data management responsibilities, 25% of my time is spent in the field collecting support data for analysis. A few examples include: finding estimated sediment load within a reservoir utilizing bathymetric and sediment-core data; calculating the impacts of potential high voltage electric transmission lines on environmental, engineering, and civic factors; thermal variance studies that analyze temperature variance in water-bodies near power generating facilities; and assisting with wetland delineations and soil surveys.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years? I see myself ushering in an expansion of GIS support directly within my division, and if I am lucky, managing the GIS workflow as a section manager.
What advice can you give to those who are still in school? Take school seriously. Not only is it expensive, but it is the foundation for everything you will do professionally going forward. Our professors dedicate much of their lives to creating an environment that is conducive to learning, understanding, and excelling, but they can only give you the torch. It is your responsibility to take that torch and run with it. Study, research, experiment, and learn from failure. Also, do everything in your power to get boots-on-the-ground internship experience. What you learn in an internship can be in-valuable, but what's more is the networking and references you gain in the professional world. A solid GPA will get you an interview, but good references can get you the job. Finally, appreciate your professors. They do so much to give you a leg up, the least you can do is say thank you.