In a couple of weeks, thousands of online students will join the Wolfpack. The flexibility of our online programs will allow many of them to continue working part or full time while balancing family obligations and diligently working for an even brighter future.
Below is a Q&A with Natalie Norberg, an incoming online Master of Environmental Assessment student.
Welcome to the online Wolfpack!
Hometown: Silver Spring, Maryland 🌇
Current City: Durham, N.C. 📍
Online Program: Master of Environmental Assessment 💻️
Current Position: Environmental Specialist, North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality 🌍️
How did you first become interested in environmental assessment and what led you to the decision for a career in this field?
I have always enjoyed the outdoors. I spent many family vacations at national parks and a lot of my childhood outside. I wanted a job that allowed me to be able to work outside the home, at least part time. Environmental science has not only allowed me to spend time outside, but it has given me the opportunity to travel around the country.
What are your job responsibilities as an environmental specialist?
As an environmental specialist, I protect the state’s land and geologic resources. I help regulate and provide technical assistance related to mining, dams, sediment and erosion control, and stormwater management. I help developers and landowners stay in compliance with state and federal laws through educational awareness, inspections, and reports.
My favorite part of the job is inspecting dams. I get to travel throughout the counties that surround Raleigh and see some gorgeous lakes and ponds. We are on high alert during a hurricane so that we can notify the public of any dam failures. We are currently in the process of obtaining Remote Pilot Certificates from the FAA to be able to fly drones for dam inspections.
What are some benefits of pursuing an online program?
One benefit is flexibility. I currently have normal work hours, but there have been a few times when I’ll head back from being out in the field and it’s past 6 p.m. With an online program, I can essentially do work when I feel like it. For example, I can do classwork on my lunch break.
An online program gives me the opportunity to plan study time and homework around my day, not the other way around.
In addition, my husband and I love to travel. An online program can let you work anywhere, as long as Wi-Fi is available. The flexibility of taking classes online was what sold me on this program.
How will an M.S. in environmental assessment help you in your career?
I believe a master’s degree will significantly help advance my career and will make it easier to transition into a more senior position.
An environmental assessment degree will enhance my professional network and can help me become more marketable – which can significantly increase my income.
Looking at the descriptions for open jobs, a lot of them mention a master’s degree is preferred or will count towards years of work.
What are some tips or guidelines you want to follow as you start your graduate career?
I want to encourage myself to not procrastinate. I also want to make connections with other students and professors and not be afraid to ask questions. Finally, I think it’ll be important to remember to relax and incorporate some work-life balance. I’ll need to adjust to being a full-time employee, a part-time student and a wife.
Join the NC State Online student and alumni community by connecting with us via Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram. If you want to learn more about the online Master of Environmental Assessment program, visit the program website.