Sandy Broadus, NRES 2012

Honestly, the most important thing is perseverance.” 

Why did you chose the NRES program at UK?

I chose the NRES program because I was interested in a lot of different things - conservation, ecology, agriculture, wildlife, etc. I thought the NRES program was broad enough that it would keep a lot of different career options on the table for me post-graduation.

Where are you currently working or what are your current activities?

I'm currently working as a tech at an environmental consulting firm called Rhithron in Missoula, Montana. I analyze water samples from streams all over the US (including Kentucky!) that are sent to us from government agencies and environmental nonprofits.

What was your path to where you are currently?

I've had a lot of different job experiences that have helped build my resume over the years. I've worked at two different parks (Otter Creek Park and Squire Boone Caverns), a farm (Elmwood Stock Farm), an entomology lab (Dobson), and a nonprofit (Green Forests Work). I've also had some jobs that were just to put food on the table that weren't so fun - retail, a coffee shop, fast food, day care.

I was fairly active on campus as a member of Greenthumb and the Earth Days in the Bluegrass Planning Committee. I was active in the Sierra Club's UK Beyond Coal Campaign, as well as being an Ag Ambassador, and working as the NRES Program Assistant. I've found that my diverse background is great, because each new job is a learning experience, and I've got a lot of it under my belt at this point.

I decided to move to Missoula, Montana and needed a job. I saw the position with Rhithron posted, so I applied. They conducted a Skype interview with me, while I was still living in Kentucky, and then later offered me the job.

What do you feel helped you most in getting to where you are currently in terms of your own personal strategies?

Honestly, the most important thing is perseverance. The job market is terrible, so unless you know someone or you've got 3-5 years of specific experience, you're going to be facing a lot of rejection. You just have to have thick skin and realize that you'll find something eventually, it's just not going to be as soon as you'd probably hoped. Keep putting out applications and even apply for things that are out of your league - any interview is good practice, even if it doesn't end in a job offer. 

Any advice for current students in the NRES program?

My other advice is to keep track of all the papers and projects you do in college. After I graduated, my computer died a terrible electronic death and I lost everything on it. A lot of jobs want to see writing samples or examples of research that you've done, and you're going to be up the creek without a paddle if you don't back up those files.

How do you think the NRES program helped to prepare you?

Nearly every class that I took as part of the NRES program has had some sort of application in the different jobs that I've held (though some definitely more than others). The most helpful ones are the ones you would expect - summer camp and the senior capstone project.

Contact Sandy at smbroadus@gmail.com