Sustainability Mentorship Program highlights from the spring 2017 cohort

The Sustainability Mentorship Program offers Portland State University students an opportunity to connect with professionals in a variety of sustainability-related fields. Three students who participated in the spring share their experiences from the program.

Anna Brown

Anna BrownAs an undergrad working to fulfill an Environmental Studies degree, I'm glad I was so perfectly matched with Victoria Magda at Green Building Services—someone who I felt comfortable expressing my goals to in a casual way. She shared knowledge about relevant conferences to attend, networking opportunities, and last, but definitely not least, she helped me find an internship! I'm glad I decided to join this program and would recommend it to anyone looking for insight on real world experiences provided by someone who's actually had the experience. All of this without the pressure of communicating in a serious, professional setting.

Megan Schneider

Megan SchneiderI am in the Leadership for Sustainability Education masters program in the Graduate School of Education. My undergraduate degree was on food system sustainability and sustainable agriculture. I am interested in working in higher education; I would like to work for a university or college doing sustainability and/or community-based learning programming, and possibly pursue teaching in higher education later on.

My mentor completed her master's degree in the same program that I am in. It was really great to connect with someone who had been through the same course of study and to learn about her career in the field that I would like to be in. She is also pursuing her doctorate right now, which is something I am likely going to do in the future, so it was really helpful to discuss the options and steps for that path with her as well. Her mentorship helped me clarify what I want to get out of my masters degree at PSU, as well as gave me a snapshot of what a position I could hold in the future would look like. I think we both gained something from being able to reflect on our course of study and our careers in higher education together.

Andey Nunes

Andey NunesI came to PSU with my B.S. in environmental studies and have work experience as a sustainable building advisor and project manager. I graduated June 2017 with my master's in systems sceience with graduate certificates in applied statistics, and environmental and resource economics. My career goals are to use my new skills in statistics, economics, and systems analysis to work as a data scientist or researcher for data-informed decision-making and community engagement.

Key takeaways from the mentorship experience:

  • Networking and fostering relationships are crucial for career success: most work is done with teams, so it's very important to collaborate and connect with others.
  • Data analytics and visualization skills are in high demand, and having skills in a programming language such as R or Python will give a candidate an edge in today's tech-savvy market.
  • Practice, practice, practice! Build on strengths, but use curiosity to look for opportunities to learn how to improve on skill gaps. Ask engaging and active questions and folks will share a wealth of knowledge about their experiences that can help inform new pathways for growth and opportunity.
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