I decided to write my final blog post on my second to last day of work at the EPA. I am only working three days this week, because I need time to pack for school before I fly to Pennsylvania on Saturday, and tomorrow the interns are presenting their summer work. This week wasn’t eventful, I was mainly finalizing tables at work and preparing for school. However, amidst the uneventfulness, I had time to reflect on this past summer and whether I achieved the SMART goals that I had created at the beginning of the summer.
I had three SMART goals. My personal goal was to learn to cook cheap and healthy food that tastes good every evening for dinner, while my two professional goals were to provide useful feedback during my team’ weekly group meetings that will contribute to the overall outcome of CBRAT and to determine whether I can see myself as a future EPA employee like I previously desired, or if non-governmental organizations seem more exciting and relaxed than the rigid structure of a government agency.
My personal goal was to a certain extent achieved. I did not starve obviously but I did not particularly venture into the world of cuisine. I made burritos, nachos, salad, sandwiches, pasta, and other easy dishes. However, I feel like even though these dishes are not complex, it still required basic skills such as using the stove and microwave and chopping up veggies.
My first professional goal was achieved, however, without question. Every week, I shared what I had been working on and what values I found, but I also helped design the homepage for CBRAT, compile a list of ‘to-do’ items for CBRAT’s public version, helped identify problems with CBRAT, and helped write an abstract submission to a climate change conference. I participated every week outside of sharing my work duties.
With regards to the final professional goal, I have determined that a non-governmental agency suits me better than a government agency at this point in my life. I applaud the work of government workers and truly think the EPA is doing some incredible things, but the bureaucracy and structure in the government agency is limiting. My mentor, Christina, used to do field work every day. However, the agency decided to focus more on using data previously available rather than create more. Now Christina is restricted to sitting at a computer for forty hours a week. My future career goal now is to work for a non-governmental organization working with the EPA to create policies and advocate for environmental protection, environmental justice, and climate change and clean energy initiatives.
On Wednesday I leave for Salem with my goals for the most part achieved. It feels weird knowing I am leaving a summer full of memories behind. Although I live in Oregon, I am not sure if and when I’ll be able to visit Newport next; and when I do visit, the atmosphere will be nostalgic rather than exciting. Thank you Oregon Sea Grant for this amazing summer!
So long Newport!