It’s almost impossible to think of every job that will be open to me.
Student Profile: Gretchen Sprehe
Imagine: You’re an Environmental Science major doing the work of your dreams—field research. On a co-op assignment, you canoe and hike through the great outdoors gathering data. Then you go home and have a massive allergic reaction—itchiness, swelling, protracted misery. It sort of makes you rethink your career path.
That’s what happened to Gretchen Sprehe.
“We were delineating wetlands,” she says. “I hiked through a field of ragweed and broke out. Couldn’t see for two days. I figured after that, maybe it’s better for me to have an inside job.”
Gretchen’s solution, worked out with the support of Professor Karl Korfmacher and other faculty, was to concentrate her studies on Geographic Information Systems—more computer than canoe. She not only loved the work, she found herself in hot demand on the job market.
“I had half a dozen job interviews over the school year and I wasn’t even actively looking yet,” she says. “I’ve turned down one job offer already.”
Gretchen worked co-op or internship jobs during three of her summers at RIT. She credits these with helping her clarify her interests and goals. An avid hockey player, she graduates with a dual BS/MS in Environmental Science and a minor in Creative Writing.
“There’s a real multi-disciplinary emphasis here,” she says. “And the faculty is incredible. Their teaching style is very open and you can always go ask them questions.”
A degree in Environmental Science opens the door to a multitude of career paths. Environmental jobs can be found in industry, government, non-profit organizations, educational institutions and news media. We anticipate that a large wave of baby-boomer retirements will soon open public-service opportunities (conservation officer, researcher, policy maker) in such organizations as the Department of Environmental Conservation. Or, you may become an entrepreneur developing environmentally friendly products, a journalist writing about environmental issues, an advocate for environmental interest groups. The possibilities are endless.
Career Spotlight: Travis Money
These days you can find Travis Money in New York wetlands putting up nesting boxes, behind his computer creating GIS maps, or out in the field excavating contaminated soils.
The first BS/MS graduate of RIT’s Environmental Science program, Travis today works as an Environmental Professional with Stantec, an architecture and engineering firm with an active Environmental Science group.
“A lot of my workload comes from creating GIS maps and figures for projects,” Travis recently wrote to ES staff at RIT. “Another major part of my workload is comprised of wetland delineations as well as monitoring mitigated wetlands and biomonitoring of landfills….Lastly, I assist with some hazardous waste cleanup.”
RIT’s ES program, he says, prepared him well for his chosen career.
“It was very challenging,” he says. “There’s nothing wrong with that. I like that.”
Travis considered a number of Environmental Science programs before choosing RIT. As one of the first students to go through the program, his feedback helped administrators shape curriculum requirements to be most suitable for ES students. And even today he enjoys the advantages of RIT’s solid reputation in the professional world.
“The clincher for me was the high rate of graduates getting jobs right after school,” he says.
Consult the links and references below for detailed information about careers in environmental science:
- The Complete Guide to Environmental Careers in the 21st Century, by Kevin Doyle et al, The Environmental Careers Organization, Island Press, 1999.
- Becoming an Environmental Professional, The CEIP Fund, Inc., Island Press, 1990.
- The ECO Guide to Careers that Make a Difference: Environmental Work for a Sustainable World, by Environmental Careers Organization.
Co-operative Education/Internships: After completing the second year of the Environmental Sciences program, students are strongly encouraged to work in environmental science during the summer months. It’s a great way to gain practical experience in your field and to check out career possibilities. RIT offers all the help you might need to prepare yourself for a co-op/internship position:
- View general Co-op/Internship Opportunities in Environmental Science
- Consider taking the optional “Introduction to Co-op Seminar” course offered by the Department of Biological Sciences
- Check out the Office of Cooperative Education and Career Services. Each student is assigned a program coordinator who assists with career counseling and the job search from the beginning of the co-op process right through career entry upon graduation. The office also provides a job search seminars, career and employer research materials, on-line job postings for co-op and full-time positions, on-campus interview opportunities, and a reference service for graduating students. The Cooperative Education Coordinator for the Environmental Science Program is Kathryn Scahill. If you have questions regarding the co-op program he can be reached by phone at 585-475-5465 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org .
- If you need help getting started either stop by the Environmental Science Program Office (GOS 2102), or call at 585-475-7577.