I am currently a graduate student at Florida Atlantic University (FAU), pursuing a Masters in Environmental Education. I also work as a graduate assistant at Pine Jog Environmental Education Center (Pine Jog) in affiliation with my studies at FAU. With my work at Pine Jog, a few of my favorite experiences include spearheading our annual fundraising gala, coordinating and training teachers and students to participate in our Million Orchid Project (where, yes, we are growing one million endangered orchids in a lab to re-introduce to urban spaces in Palm Beach County), attending a national Everglades Coalition Conference on full scholarship, and becoming Vice President of Programs at FAU’s Association of Fundraising Professionals.
I’ve had quite the medley of job experiences! I think it all began because I started working at an early age (14), which helped me build my work ethic and hone my skills and (many) passions immensely. I worked as an Environmental Education intern at the Minnesota Children’s Museum in high school, experienced being a sous chef and kitchen manager for some time, was hand selected for a National Science Foundation funded undergraduate research fellow experience in Dauphin Island, worked at the Writing Center and as manager of the Welcome Desk at PBA, was privately contracted as a sea turtle monitor in Palm Beach County, and directly after I graduated PBA, I worked at Wanderer Bracelets as their Customer Service and Platforms Manager.
If you are going to truly be a working professional, get involved EARLY! There are so many amazing fields available, so the sooner you know which one is your true passion (or closest to it), go after those jobs/internships and volunteer work. You never know what doors will open="open" for you! A Google search can (and will) be your best friend. That’s how I found PBA and all of my previous (and my current!) jobs.
"...get involved EARLY!"
PBA taught me to make bold life choices, follow my passions, and live out my dreams. Anything is possible, but you have to truly believe that and put in the hard work necessary to make the possible possible. It helped me build upon my public speaking, communication, and leadership skills, which are the three skills absolutely vital to any individual in any career
Don’t be afraid of the unknown – of unexpected opportunities you may not have considered or that others may deem crazy or unreachable. Every single opportunity you achieve (a scholarship to a conference, an assistantship that pays for your Masters degree, etc.) makes you one step or connection closer to finding your dream career or participation in a bigger opportunity. Make sure you know your worth and give every opportunity you desire your all, but most importantly, know that even if you fail you’ll often learn more about yourself than if you had succeeded.
I haven’t had a long-term mentor per se, but I have always had several sources of support and role models through professors, supervisors, peers, family, and co-workers that I believe are the true equivalence of a mentor in the sense that they provided necessary guidance, strength, advice, wisdom, love, and encouragement necessary to persevere in any situation or circumstance, particularly in the workforce.
Spotlight posted in September 2018. For current updates from Nate, visit his LinkedIn.