Graduated from MREM in May 2018
Bachelor of Science in Biology from Mount Saint Vincent University
Environmental Scientist at GHD
Background & education:
I graduated from Mount Saint Vincent University in May 2014 and began working at Maxxam Analytics as a lab technician/analyst. I gained valuable skills through my work at the laboratory, including being a valuable team member, working under time constraints to meet client-specified deadlines and learning standardized operating procedures and Health and Safety protocols. Many clients of the laboratory were environmental consultants. I came to realize that I wanted to do more than run samples; I wanted to see how the results are used to clean up contaminated sites and for environmental assessment work. This realization brought me to the MREM program.
How did you get to your current position?
I have the MREM program to thank. During the first year of the program I developed a strong interest in the remediation of Boat Harbour in Pictou County, NS, and sought out the environmental consulting company that was awarded the project, GHD, to inquire about internship opportunities. I accepted a student environmental scientist position with GHD and, following the summer internship, I remained as a part-time employee with the company while completing my final semester. Upon graduation, I returned to full-time employment as an environmental scientist. I would not have been able to make the connections to land this position if it wasn’t for SRES.
What skills did Dal help you develop?
The skills I developed at Dalhousie are invaluable to success in my career. I gained experience writing a variety of technical documents, explored current and historical environmental projects and became familiar with the environmental assessment and environmental site assessment process and the legislation, regulations and policies at the provincial and federal level. I also had the opportunity to further develop my verbal and written communication skills, and make connections with outside stakeholders and environmental groups.
What’s your next big career goal?
I plan to acquire new technical skills in my position as an environmental scientist, and to focus my interests and skills to further myself professionally. I have come to realize that in environmental consulting, you are always put on new projects and assigned new tasks, which makes it a very exciting career choice. I hope to continue gaining experience and learning from the skilled professionals who are my colleagues.
How was your experience in the MREM internship program?
Truthfully, the MREM Internship program was stressful at the beginning. You have the make connections, set up informational interviews, and reach out to organizations all while completing your regular course work. I did not have an internship position upon finishing my second semester and started work as a research assistant for my academic supervisor in the program. After about a month, I landed the internship position with GHD. This was not a posted position; I reached out expressing my interest in the Boat Harbour Project and inquiring about opportunities. While I was in the position, I gained valuable fieldwork and office experience, met great people and learned a lot about environmental consulting. Despite a stressful start, it was true that good things come to those who wait (and work for it).
Any advice for future MREM students?
This is a relatively short master’s program, and it goes fast. Use your time wisely in SRES to make connections, gain valuable skills and get all that you can from the program. Foster a relationship with your academic supervisor who is there to help you succeed, and make sure your projects fit with your interests and career goals. It allowed me to get the most out of the program, and made it very enjoyable.
My second piece of advice is to work hard to obtain an internship position that you want, and that you think aligns well with your future career goals. The internship component of the program was a big draw for me to apply to MREM, and I really wanted to use it as an opportunity to gain experience, make connections that could turn into a future employment opportunity and help determine if I was interested in environmental consulting long term. The experience I gained from the internship was invaluable. It was a highlight of the program, but it really is what you make it. Start early, work hard and you will land a great position.
The support system you build through the MREM program with SRES staff and peers and the connections you make with external organizations and potential future employers will last far longer than the program. SRES is a smaller school within Dalhousie University; the people I met and worked with throughout this program were invaluable to my experience. SRES is a special community of people, and you get to know the staff and your peers well. The program is designed to challenge you; however, it is also designed to prepare you to be a skilled graduate entering the workforce. SRES has opened up so many doors for me, and I am so thankful I made the decision to apply and go back to school to get my master’s degree.