Scott Walker-Young Alumni Spotlight

Employer: U.S. Geological Survey

Job Title: Summer intern 
Degree: Geology, Spring 2015

Job Description :Collect baseline water quality data for the entire state of Wyoming. This summer we are focusing on collecting samples from domestic wells in Sheridan County, Wyoming, as part of a program the USGS has in place to help monitor shallow aquifer contamination in high contamination risk watersheds. As an intern, I am responsible for learning everything there is to know about groundwater sampling, and I spend two weeks a month up in Sheridan with a staff hydrologist sampling well water, conducting total coliform/ecoli bacterial tests on their water using mobile lab equipment, as well as using titration methods to find total alkalinity of the water. I take photographs of well sites, GPS measurements, field notes, make site sketches, and compile this data into ArcGIS maps.

Future Plans: Apply to consulting firms around Colorado or Montana

Advice for future students: I was selected for this internship based off of my outstanding work and grades during field camp. Good grades do pay off, and can get you this NAGT/USGS yearly internship if you get a stellar grade at field camp. Perhaps the most important bit of advice though, is to go beyond regular classwork in college. Think about it. When you graduate, everyone else will have the same amount of experience as you do. Those who get hired have additional experience such as undergraduate research, internships, and assistant work. Talk to your professors and grad students. Bug them time and again until they let you help with field work, lab work, research etc… Research internships and get as many as you can before you graduate. This way, you have a chance to see if what you are doing is really what you want to be doing. Don’t wait until after you graduate to find out that you really don’t enjoy studying groundwater or geophysics in an actual work-environment. Real world work is way different than studying in academia. Also, wait to have children until after you’re done with college! Good luck!

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Francesca Valencia- Young Alumni Spotlight

Employer: GeoSystems, Inc

Job Title: Researcher/Assistant 
Degree: Geology, Spring 2015

Job Description :Researching and analyzing soils and Geology Reports for sites of interest. Working with Senior Geologists in the field to identify rock types, develop, log, and map test pits on site. Working in the lab, conducting direct and residual shear tests, moisture and density tests, consolidation tests, and chemical tests. Using AutoCAD to produce direct shear test diagrams, plate templates for reports, test pit and boring logs, and cross-sections. Using programs to produce seismic parameters for site of interest.

Future Plans: Continue to work under the Senior Geologist at GeoSystems so that I can eventually test to become a Licensed Professional Geologist (Not all states require a license - CA does)

Advice for future students: The main thing that I can say I took away from my college experience is: strategy. No matter what class or project you have, there are always different ways to tackle whatever is on your plate, so when you're stressed out, just try to keep an open mind and look at your options. Something I really want people to realize is that everyone functions differently. So stop comparing yourself to your peers. Just because you see others studying/working a certain way, doesn’t mean that's the best method for you. And remember, what may be good for you may not be good for someone else. So if getting a C on an exam is an accomplishment for you, don't let someone else's goals diminish your own. Take your time in college to really understand how you function in a learning environment. It's important to get to know yourself, because when you get in the real world, there is still going to be a learning curve for the first couple of years. Another thing I really want to emphasize to other students is to please utilize your resource - whether it is office hours, tutoring, the counseling center, or RDS. Don't be afraid to reach out if you are having trouble, because support is always available to you at CSU. Talk with your professors, because often times it's going to be your responsibility to make sure you're getting the education you're paying for. I highly recommend visiting the counseling center and/or RDS because those services can help provide you with an enjoyable academic experience that will get you to walk at graduation, and I should have started using them sooner rather than later.

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Natalie Backman - Young Alumni Spotlight

Natalie Beckman - Ph.D. Geosciences, 2012
Profession: Senior Water Advisor at the Department of State in the Office of Conservation and Water

What is your favorite thing about your job?
I love that I work with a very creative group that is trying to get out ahead of water problems round the world. We are literally trying to change the way the world thinks about water.
What has been your biggest career accomplishment thus far?
Working as a science advisor to Senator Harry Reid as part of the AAAS/ASCE fellowship program.  People think that congress isn't very tuned into the science and tech world, but actually congress gets bombarded with information every day.  It was my job to triage that information and pass along the things that I thought were important to the senator and his staff, in a format that would make it easy to understand for someone without a technical background.  
How did attending CSU help you in your career?
What was most helpful was the chance to get outside my discipline.  I worked on projects with graduate students in political science, engineering, geomorhpology and biology, which really helped me understand the multiple sides of environmental issues, and demonstrated to potential employers that I had both technical and soft skills.  The depth of faculty working on all sides of water issues at CSU is amazing. CSU is definitely a "name brand" school when it comes to water, even here in DC!
What do you feel helped you the most in scoring a job after college?
Having both engineering and science credentials was very helpful.  Engineering companies started recruiting me because of that, but I knew that I wanted to try a policy job.  I had two unsuccessful interviews for science policy jobs, but I knew I wanted that opportunity so I kept applying.  I was told after my interview with ASCE that what really impressed the panel was my confidence.  That made me laugh a bit, since going in I was really nervous. 
Advice to current students:
Give presentations!!!  Good speaking skills are very important, and school is a safe space to practice and get feedback.  Also,  join professional societies.  They are a great way to meet people ahead of you on your career path, and they often have free or reduced price programs for student members.  I found out about the AAAS fellowships because I attended an AGU "Fly-in" to lobby congress for science funding.