Monday, March 4, 2013


I graduated from college and started looking for a job during a local ebb in the job market. Nobody seemed to be interested in hiring a new grad with less than 2 years of industry experience.

So I figured that job hunting would be a cakewalk once I had more job experience.

Of course, it's not that simple. The environmental biz is a pretty big umbrella. An firm that does emergency hazmat response, an engineering firm that designs systems for wastewater treatment plants, and a consulting firm that does wetland and other ecological studies all do environmental work, but the work performed has almost no overlap. And even selecting my part of the environmental world - trying to figure out what's wrong in the subsurface and fix it - is wide indeed.

As an entry level geologist, I could have easily started working for local government, nonprofits, remedial design firms, consulting firms, and law firms. I could have operated under the guidance of an alphabet soup of federal laws (RCRA? CERCLA?) and a bewildering array of state rules, which may or may not bear any relation to each other. I was equally inexperienced at everything.

After a few years of fieldwork and a masters degree in something related to fixing stuff in the subsurface, I am a specialist. I have a good base of knowledge, which is pretty impressive... for a particular area of geology and regulatory regime. I provide lots of value in my area of expertise. The problem is that I'm operating in a very small world, so if I go job-hunting, I'm looking at a tiny number of firms that may or may not be looking for, well, me. And neither those firms nor I wanted me to start all over again as an entry-level generalist (although dire financial straits may change that calculus for me).


JackS said...

Have you thought about starting your own company? working for yourself? are you connected on Linked in? There are a lot of us One-man-shows that network. Good luck and let me know when you find an economic remedial alternative for PCE in an acidic and high DO environment.

Short Geologist said...

I like my benefits and not having to hustle for work - it's why I got out of the management track.

In 10 years, when I'm famous in my little corner of the biz.... Or I develop a method for eliminating PCE in bedrock in a single 3-day application for 50 bucks... Who knows?