I was doing some reading for my Geographic Information Systems class (GIS) tonight, and the reading inspired an excellent idea.  I was reading about forests and wildfires, and one of the response questions had me think about a way I could apply GIS analysis to a topic in the readings.  Well, naturally what I picked up on is the fact that the Forest Service budget in 2008 was approximately 45% fire prevention and fighting, up from 12% in 1991.  My solution?  Use GIS to analyze the “at risk zones” surrounding national forests, develop an estimate of property values in these zones, and consider the necessary magnitude of a specific fire prevention property tax levied on these areas.  This would solve the problem of increased strain on the federal budget while also discouraging people from living in these areas.  Sounds good right?

The conclusion I got from this exercise is that there are a lot of problems that might have simple solutions I could easily tackle.  In fact, I see all kinds of problems or areas of improvement in a lot of things.  Whether it this national forest fire problem or the way the Economics department could improve our early exposure to regression analysis, I see problems and potential solutions in everything I do.  Usually I do not have the time or resources to address these things and they go unchanged.  However, what if I were to make it my job to solve these problems?  What if it is how I made my living?

I am thinking about a consulting firm.  Sure, I could work as a consultant, but I might like to actually start my own firm one day.  I would focus on projects like the forest fire financial situation that have simple solutions that could lead to very real social benefits.  In addition to clients that seek out the company’s services I would also want to engage in research based on the employee’s interests whether it be transportation, forestry, education, or anything else.  Often people who are not experts but have an interest and passion for a topic have the best solutions, and I wouldn’t expect this to be any different in a consultant.

So here is another option on my radar.  Here is a breakdown of some of the possibilities currently in my future, in no particular order:

  1. Petitioning GBC to take me on as a dedicated sustainability representative on campus
  2. AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, City Year, or another such volunteer program to give me some more varied and less structured experiences while I am still young and free.
  3. Graduate school for Urban Planning
  4. Fulbright or similar fellowship for continued study and/or personal projects
  5. Entry-level consulting position with long-term entrepreneurial options
  6. Biking across America as a summer project, building houses along the way

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Well, at least I have options.  I feel confident I can do any of these things, so now the goal is simply staying on top of the present and preparing myself for success, making connections in each of these circles, and continually refining my career goals.

You know, it seems hard sometimes.  Very hard.  But when I step back and consider it, I think I’m in a good place.  I’m making the most of a world-class education, I’m getting involved and making connections, I have a network of references willing to speak to my abilities, and I no one could ever say I don’t have the passion or dedication to succeed!