The realization that my fellowship is coming to an end has not yet completely hit me yet.
In a way, this year will go on record as the quickest year I’ve ever experienced. I’ve had the opportunity to gain more hands on experience in my field (Marine Resource Management) than during any other chapter of my life and it has been an absolute honor to work alongside the amazing staff at the Oregon Coastal Management Program. So in wrap up, and for my final Oregon Sea Grant blog post I thought it was only fitting to share just a tidbit of what I have learned, things I have discovered about myself along the way, and what I see in my future.
BUT FIRST: It goes without saying, but I couldn’t have come this far in such a short year without the opportunity to be an Oregon Sea Grant Natural Resource Policy Fellow. The OSG team is a well oiled machine that does the work of an office twice their size. It’s not often that you find such a supportive and knowledgeable group of individuals. I’m truly grateful for this experience and I only hope the end of my fellowship is not a goodbye, but rather a see you soon to the Sea Grant family that has embraced this loud and salty New Yorker for 2 years of graduate research and 1 year of professional development.
That’s a Wrap
I know..how cliche, but I’ve truly learned more about myself as a professional and the field of resource management in the last 12 months than I have throughout my 6 years of environmental higher education. For full transparency, I wrote this post partially outlining what I have experienced and learned, but have also somewhat directed it to myself a year ago-
Start things off right: All mentor-fellow relationships are different, but starting off on the right foot can ease any early concerns. Sit down and discuss your expectations of one another. Coming directly from grad school can cause you to accept one-sided interactions (your adviser asks you to do something and you stop the rotation of Earth on it’s axis to make it happen). Fellowships maybe a step in between school and a permanent position, but communicating clear expectations and realism will be necessary long after the fellowship has ended. So don’t be afraid to go home at the end of the work day and do something for yourself without feeling guilty. Your tasks will still be there tomorrow and your boss should understand. That brings me to the next point-
Work-Life Balance is real!: For those that knew me in throughout my college career – sorry if you just had a mild aneurysm hearing that come from me. This realization was one of the hardest for me to come to. As a certified “yes-girl” I thrived on calendar filling, blood-shot eye causing, CV building experiences. Yet this fellowship has taught me that although those experiences helped me to get where I am today, sometimes being a “maybe-girl” or a “I’d rather stay in and watch every 2-star romcom on Netflix with my dog that day-girl” is completely acceptable. Every hour of your day doesn’t have to be optimized for professional development. At a point, your mental health and relaxation is worth more than trying to teach yourself a new skill at 10pm on youtube because a professor back in freshman year statistics said it was a great way to get a job one day (true story). Although I never did full grasp that specific skill, this year was still filled with new personal and professional development – I’ve learned how to sew my own cloths, weave a basket, and have even spent some time reading FUN BOOKS! Overall, it’s great to be thirsty for professional development and bettering your career path, but no candle can burn at both ends forever – so treat yourself!
Don’t hesitate to ask: Slightly contradictory to my last bullet, but still important. I began my fellowship expecting to work on the Territorial Sea Plan – Rocky Shores Management Strategy, and I have, but I knew I wanted to do more with my time at the Department of land Conservation and Development. Luckily my mentor is a super busy guy, so he was more than open to letting me help on a multitude of other projects. This has allowed me to further work on skills like meeting facilitation, internship supervision, group logistics, grant writing, web development, tribal relations, policy drafting, commission briefings, and so much more. At the same time I have also started work on an evaluative component to Sea Grant scholar opportunities. Moral of the story – want experience doing something? Just ask! Most of the time somebody wants help doing something too!
Looking toward the future
My long and short-term goals have definitely evolved and grown throughout my education and fellowship. If you would have told me as a brash young undergrad with my sights set on a PhD, 1,000 publications, and a life filled with chaining myself to trees, that I would be working in government and facilitating policy writing surrounding coastal management I would have laughed and gone back to reading Silent Spring (nerd alert). But overall, here is where I stand today-
- Short-Term Goals: I was honored to partner with the Coastal program to apply for and receive a NOAA Project of Special Merit grant ($225k) to continue the work on the TSP. I’m now actively competing for the position that was written into that grant which will extend my position for another 18 months. – Fingered crossed! Additionally, I’d like to go back to school part time and obtain my project management certificate.
- Long-Term Goals: Although I haven’t completely ruled out a life filled with chaining myself to trees, I hope to also continue building my skills as a facilitator and project manager while aim to pursue a law degree part time along the way. I like the idea of working for state government or a non-profit like the Nature Conservancy as a marine projects/policy coordinator. In a perfect world I would find a home with Sea Grant as an extension agent, project/division coordinator/etc, but regardless of my position title, wherever I end up, I’d like to be in a supervisory role filled with learning and logistics (who doesn’t love a good spreadsheet?).
Lastly, wherever I go and whatever I do, I’m thankful to have the best support system a girl could ask for <3 I can’t thank my amazing friends and family, as well as Jake and Timber for always having my back through one adventure after the next.
Love & Waves,