Monday, April 24, 2017

A Very Merri Life

Objective: To share how I'm applying my degree and trying to making this world a better place.

About a year ago, I was applying to various internships that related to my studies, Earth System Science. To all of the internships I applied to, I received rejections even though I thought I was well qualified for the work. I was extremely bummed because I had nothing to do for the summer to interest me or better my resume. So I coached water polo, hoping to make some money. In July, my neighbor gave some lady he carpooled with to work my information because she was looking for someone to help her get started with her environmental consulting business. I didn't know that this lady was about to call me and give me the best opportunity that I have ever had. 

I started working for my boss lady in July and have tackled many tasks, most of them involving me entering receipts into Quickbooks and budgeting projects. The great thing about my job is that it is just me and the boss lady taking on the world. I get a lot of attention and a lot of experience. Within the first two months of working, I went on a business trip with my boss to New York and New Jersey to do environmental compliance audits for one of our clients. It was crazy how quickly I became so emerged into the business. Two weeks after that first business trip, I went on my second one. Alone. I was needed to go to the Bay Area and do an Exit Inspection and to update the CERS inventory at one of their sites. It's completely insane to me how she even trusted me enough to do that trip alone after only working with her for less than two full months. But she wants me to gain as much experience with her as I can, and I could not be anymore grateful. 

So, I get a lot of opportunities to get work experience and improve upon my skills, but what does this have to do with anything but me? Well...

The work that I do is environmental compliance work. My job is to make sure our clients are in compliance with federal and state environmental regulations. These regulations are sometimes hard to understand or tedious, so many companies hire environmental consultants to perform the work for them. Many consultants are in the game to make money, but money is only a part of it for my company. Every day, we go to work to make sure that companies don't continue to be unaware or ill-advised about their practices. Many people don't like regulations, but these regulations make a humongous difference! People in LA used not be able to see anything because of air pollution. Thanks to the Clean Air Act and other regulations, air pollution dropped significantly. What I work with mostly is the NPDES which stands for National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System and it is a program run by the US EPA along with the cooperation of the states. This system provides a way for companies to be held reliable for non-point and direct pollution to our waterways. This program helps to prevent large spills and large non-point pollution events because it is proactive rather than reactive. You have to make sure that you don't have any possible contaminants that could be touched by rainfall on your property or otherwise you get fined big time. Since this program has been in place, our waterways have vastly improved in quality and ecosystem health. There is still a long ways to go with many waterways, but it is awesome to know that what I do every day is contributing making that happen. 

If it weren't for consultants and other environmental people like me, companies would continue to discharge straight to waterways, making everything in life worse. I like to believe that what I do everyday contributes to making the world a little bit better. Honestly, that's always been my goal and I hope that my little bit can reach a huge bit by the time I am done on this earth.

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