Could you describe the career opportunity you are pursuing this summer and share how you were led to this opportunity?
I am spending my summer in Juneau, Southeast Alaska, working at a local nonprofit organization called Trail Mix Inc. I have been learning about the Alaskan land, history, people, mountains, and the incredible natural beauty here. I arrived in Juneau through the Ted Smith Conservation Program by the Alaska Conservation Program (ACF), which collaborates with conservation projects all across Alaska with nonprofits all over the state. This program has made me aware of the nonprofit logistics, conservation issues and approaches, and the use of government resources in these projects. Trail Mix Inc. deals with trail building with a keen emphasis on ecological conservation and cultural preservation. Over the summer, I actively contributed to collaborative and community-driven projects with them. Engaging with representatives from the US Forest Service, city council, and the Federal government has enriched my insight into cooperative initiatives in the nonprofit sector. As a climate enthusiast, this experience has given me an in-depth comprehension of the scientific principles, the operational logistics, and the importance of Indigenous history in shaping the narrative of preserving not just 'land' but 'home.' Having a deep appreciation for storytelling, my time in Juneau has allowed me to absorb rich, essential historical narratives that I intend to weave into my future climate research and advocacy career.
What skills have you acquired during your studies at Minerva that you believe made you stand out?
My time at Minerva has allowed me to have a highly flexible and adventurous mindset that reflects in my work. Minerva has allowed me to stand up for my narrative while being able to think critically through my professional decisions and pave a path specific to my goals and ambitions rather than running in a general competitive race. Working in the space of conservation, the aspect of having a strong narrative is crucial. Minerva has allowed me to not just present a story but also communicate through those stories for a particular cause. The interdisciplinary approach at Minerva helps me connect my work's scientific, social, local, and historical perspectives.
Traveling worldwide has enhanced my empathy and collaboration skills. This global perspective does not just enable me to critically assess issues in a professional setting, but it also prompts me to examine the underlying perspectives. By doing so, I can approach solutions more efficiently, always keeping in mind my colleagues, the process, and the desired outcomes.
What advice would you give to peers or younger students regarding finding and leveraging professional opportunities in your industry?
I have come to realize that one's network offers numerous avenues to learn about conservation initiatives. I would recommend reaching out to professionals in your specific field of interest. Discuss their work and share your enthusiasm about potentially contributing your skills to their projects. Taking the initiative to connect can often have a greater impact than one might anticipate! I would advise my peers and younger students to put themselves out there! Do not reject yourself from an opportunity without giving it a shot! Working in the conservation space, you always need to keep looking for new initiatives and programs because so many new things are emerging as the world becomes more educated on climate change and conservation. This would require you to always put yourself out there. So, do things scared (if that is what it takes), but give them a shot!
If you were inspired by Iram's story and are seeking a college experience that will teach you valuable pragmatic skills that will effectively equip you for a successful career, consider applying to Minerva.