Alumni Career Spotlight: Bridget McGovern

Bridget McGovern
Environmental Science ‘15
Master of Science in Environmental Biology/Ecology and Natural Resource Management, Utrecht University ‘20

Bridget graduated from SENR in 2011 after majoring in Environmental Science with a specialization in Water Science. During her Bridget McGovern 15'undergraduate career, Bridget studied abroad, took part in student organizations, and completed several internships. She recently graduated with a master’s degree in Environmental Biology/Ecology and Natural Resource Management and is beginning to look for jobs.

Read the full interview with Bridget:

A Glance at Bridget’s Current Role

I just graduated from Utrecht University with a research master’s degree in Environmental Biology / Ecology and Natural Resource Management. I also just finished an internship with Conservation International Suriname where I provided evidence-based policy recommendations for sustainable Brazil nut commercialization based on an analysis of experiences among Brazil nut-exporting countries of Bolivia, Brazil, and Peru. I am currently looking for work, which is proving to be a bit difficult in the pandemic.

Navigating Work and School

My major in college was Environmental Science with a specialization in Water Science. During my time in SENR I studied abroad for a semester in South Africa and was a member of Growing Green, a student-led volunteer group at OSU that taught an after-school environmental program to kids every Tuesday.

I also completed a research internship at the Maru Research Center in Malawi one summer. There, I gathered data on essential ecological and sociological factors contributing to the development and fish ecology of Lake Malawi, an important source of income and protein for the rural village of Nkhata Bay District, Malawi. Another summer, I interned with Franklinton Farms, a non-profit organization growing and providing affordable produce to low-income neighborhoods situated in a food desert.

Talk with everyone about their career and what you want to do with your life. You never know who you’ll meet, what kinds of connections you’ll get, or the things you might learn.

What did you do post-graduation?

I immediately went to Zambia with the U.S. Peace Corps for 27 months. There, I engaged with farmers by promoting conservation agriculture and rural aquaculture development. After my time in the Peace Corps, I pursued a two-year research master’s in the Netherlands. The program consisted of a nine-month and a six-month research internship, anywhere in the world.

My nine-month research internship took place in Bolivia, while my six-month internship was supposed to be in Suriname. In Bolivia, I conducted a comprehensive temporal and spatial analysis of changing livestock grazing implications on grassland ecosystem functioning and stability in the Bolivian Andes Mountains. I was supposed to go to Suriname, but COVID-19 halted our research in-country. Instead, I assessed hindering and enabling factors of sustainable Brazil nut commercialization in Brazil nut-exporting countries: Bolivia, Brazil, and Peru. My analysis yielded actionable recommendations for governmental and non-governmental Brazil nut initiatives in Southern Suriname.

Bridget McGovern '15

Which experience do you feel was most valuable in your professional development?

Gaining experience in different sectors was very valuable in addition to talking with everyone about their job and career trajectory. Another key factor was not pursuing things that I don’t care about; I’ve never taken a position that I wasn’t super passionate about.

What was most important to you in your job search?

I prioritized company values and integrity, which are really difficult to find in an inherently white supremacist, patriarchal, capitalist society, were important factors for me. Additionally, I looked for a sense of freedom and the ability to take ownership of my work and projects.

Advice for Current Students

1. Talk with everyone about their career and what you want to do with your life. You never know who you’ll meet, what kinds of connections you’ll get, or the things you might learn.

2. Try to limit your expectations. No matter what happens, the reality rarely matches your expectations.

3. Try to remain open-minded. Many times, a job and/or location was not on my radar. I wasn’t looking for anything in particular, applied, and fell in love with the work.

4. Talk to everyone about what you want to do. You never know what contacts people have. Most of my positions have come about directly through networking as opposed to applying through job boards.