Madison is originally from the East Coast – she was born and raised in Maryland and attended the University of Delaware for her undergraduate degree in Environmental Science. After graduation, she was fortunate enough to move to Honolulu, Hawaii for a brief period where she took a few odd jobs and participated in various environmental stewardship volunteer opportunities. When Madison moved to Sacramento, she was eager to pursue her master’s degree at Davis and was fortunate that the EPM program had a focus on Global Climate Change. Madison spent a wonderful two years commuting to Davis and completed master’s degree in June of 2019.
What was the process in obtaining your job and what are your job duties?
I am now currently employed by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) as an Air Resources Technician in the Enforcement Division. I originally applied for this position during my 4th quarter of graduate school to fulfill my practicum requirements for the program. Throughout my graduate career I was amazed to learn about California’s efforts to promote environmental health, so I figured a job with this state would provide me a solid foundation to build a career in environmental policy. The position turned out to not only provide me with a well-suited practicum project, but allowed me to gain name recognition in a professional environment.
This job focuses on developing and implementing strategies to enforce the air pollution policies set forth by other CARB divisions. While there is a wide range of duties in this division, I am part of a team that is developing the database used by the Enforcement Division to track and manage fleet violations. I have also been mentored by several staff in utilizing the Standard Query Language (SQL) to perform data mining and data analysis tasks. I have chosen to stay at CARB for the time being in hopes that I will soon be able to get hired as an Air Pollution Specialist, which is a journey level position within CARB.
Which professional development exercise was the most beneficial to you in finding a job in the field you were interested in?
With so many professional development exercises in the EPM program, I can’t contribute my success in finding this job to just one event or professional mentor. I believe the amalgamation of application and interview advice, for one, was a big factor in obtaining this job. By listening to various speakers in all kinds of different roles and organizations, I’ve gained a better understanding of how to tailor my interviews to the organization, the hiring manager, and the position itself. Not only were the EPM professional development exercises helpful in providing these new perspectives, but they were really great in showcasing the types of jobs available to students in this field and the pathways taken to get there. These exercises made it clear that there was no one route that would take you to your dream job, and that in itself was very encouraging and put my career search into a more realistic perspective.
How do you feel that the EPM program has contributed to your work in your current position?
The EPM program provided me with so many advantages in my professional career. With such a wide range of classes, there have been very few times in my current job that I have had no experience with something. Even though I probably cannot recall every detail of what I learned in Tracy Windsor’s Environmental Law class, for example, I am at least very familiar with the due processes of environmental law, and know how or where to look things up in that regard. I am also much more comfortable handling real-world projects. I feel that while my undergraduate career provided me with a strong foundation of knowledge, my graduate career provided me with a strong foundation of experience. Having worked directly with a professional policy development organization for the required policy clinic provided me with much needed experience in professional communication, setting deadlines, performing complex research, and reporting writing. Receiving real-world feedback from professionals in the industry allowed me to understand that I am capable of this kind of work and should continue to pursue my career goals.
How would you describe your cohort experience while you were an EPM student?
My cohort experience is something that I will always cherish. The professors, advisors, staff, and students were all flexible and worked together to shape the program and ensure we were getting the most out of it. It was also very apparent that there was a push for establishing a community within the program. Between the pot-lucks, happy hours, fundraisers, camping trips, and so many more activities, we were able to bond as a group, which of course only led to further collaboration and success. I would have had a much more difficult time in this program if it had not been for the close friends and confidants I made during my short time.
Do you have any advice for incoming EPM students or students who are about to graduate?
That said, my advice for incoming students in the EPM program would be to look at your cohort as your team and not your competition. Many EPM projects are the result of ideas brought forth by the students, so you will really get the most out of the program by encouraging these ideas and listening to others’ perspectives. Also, be sure to consider what you will be bringing to the table, and how your unique perspective might benefit the group.
Tell us a fun fact about yourself!
One fun fact about myself is that I once met Jane Goodall when I was volunteering at the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. I was handing out headsets for a seminar she was giving, so I was able to briefly introduce myself as a young environmentalist, to which she commended me.