By Felipe Restrepo
B.S. Environmental Science
Class of 2016
In the Spring of 2016, as the semester was winding down, every aspect of life kept reminding me that I was unprepared to enter the “real” world; graduation was less than 5 weeks away and I was still uncertain of how the rest of my life was going to unfold. Then at last, on a Friday afternoon, after countless job applications and a handful of interviews, I got a job offer to work as an environmental scientist. Not only was this the sort of work that I had been striving for during my college career at APU, but also, the company offering me the position was filled with remarkable individuals, scientists and engineers alike, eager to have me as part of their team.
Soon after accepting the offer, I was immersed in a 4-month series of remote fieldwork jobs that took me from Southeast Alaska’s Annette Island to the middle of the Aleutian chain to an island called Atka. Despite the huge efforts of mobilizing tons of gear from Anchorage to the job sites and back, and working day in and day out in adverse weather, my job as a field scientist was everything I had hoped for and more. The skills I had acquired over the past 4 years at APU proved to be invaluable assets to my success and the success of the projects—comfortably working entire days in chilling rain and blasting winds, stopping only to eat and sleep, for several weeks at a time; being cognizant of the importance of collecting great-quality data and recognizing that “boring” data is better than no data; being unequivocally methodical in every procedure I conducted; comfortably handling BIG datasets and wrangling large queries into meaningful results. But most importantly, I learned how to successfully communicate and interact with other team members during times of stress and exhaustion. This proved to be one of the most useful skills that APU helped me develop.
Indeed, without the broad scope of skills and life-enriching experiences from my four years at APU, I dare say that my career as an environmental scientist may have been cut very short. Needless to say, I will forever be thankful for the many mentors and peers at APU that positively affected the course of my life.