Career Readiness

I have had a varied professional career. It started off in sales, transitioned to public relations, and morphed into running a web design and marketing company. There have been good times and bad times, economic boom to historic recession, and unprecedented times. Through it all I have learned many things, most especially how to be a hard worker. However, I always wanted to work in science, and I used the COVID-19 shutdown as an opportunity to go back to college again.  

I knew that I would only have one shot to prove that as an older nontraditional student that I was still capable of learning and earning the highest grades. In addition to focusing on school, I still had to hold up all my other responsibilities with work, family, and volunteer positions in my community. With these last two semesters on the horizon, I believe I can show that not only have I succeeded in the classroom, but I have succeeded outside of it as well by self-improvement in completing time intensive tasks, leadership, critical thinking, inclusion, teamwork, and deeper knowledge of innovative technologies. 

Projects that take place over multiple years are often the most rewarding. They are also the most likely to fail or be sidetracked. Returning to school with multiple semesters of science learning was and is exactly that. However, over the last 77 credit hours I have kept up a 3.9 grade point average while taking a full slate of science and math courses. I have also completed an associate degree in agriculture and earned a certificate in horticulture. With just 16 credit hours left I will not only have completed all the deficiencies I had just three years prior, but I will also have finished a Bachelor of Applied Science. Long term planning with long term goals and rewards. 

Leadership is a tricky thing to teach. It often means you learn by doing, failing, learning, and then doing better. During the last three years I have been elected chair of several city advisory boards for the city of Fayetteville, Arkansas. It has been a joy to not only volunteer in my community, but also to learn how to lead and get things done. 

Inclusion and teamwork are critical in today’s workplace. I have spent the last few years guiding the women’s ultimate team at John Brown University as their head coach. I have learned so much about utilizing people to the best of their abilities and building them up to do more, not only by themselves, but also together as a team. It has been frustrating sometimes to come up short of goals, like losing the game to go to Nationals, but taking raw players and teaching them the finer points of working together has been a key skill I have polished. Doing it with people from multiple backgrounds made it even more rewarding.  

Technology is always changing. Artificial intelligence, especially language models, have become the go to buzz words. While I have not focused on AI models, I have focused on learning some important new skills in technology. I think the ones that will come in most handy in my new chosen profession of environmental science are ArcGIS, SQL, and python. While computer languages and computer programs are useful, I have also really focused on understanding math and statistics more. Knowing why the data says what it does has really helped my understanding of difficult problems, that I believe will translate well into a science career.  

Despite all I have learned and accomplished these last three years, I know I still have much to learn. I expect to learn several sampling, observational methods, and surveying techniques in my last semester of school. I also expect to learn on the job, whatever niche that may be in, as college is just the start. Ultimately, I am excited to continue to grow and learn as a person and a scientist in my next professional position.