Environmental policy vs. data analysis–stuck between two roads
Hi all! I recently graduated from a great university, but I can’t shake the feeling that if I knew going into college what I know now, that I would’ve taken a completely different route. I also can’t figure out how to find a position that is what I truly want. I know that you won’t have the perfect job when you graduate–trust me–but I have trouble pursuing things that I don’t take enjoyment in.
I had a great deal of trouble for the first 2 years in college deciding what I wanted to pursue. Everything I wanted to pursue, I was terrible at. Not the kind of terrible where people tell you “oh, you’ll get the hang out it!”, but the kind of terrible where people say “no honey, there is something else you MUST be better at” as they slowly pat you on the back. They were absolutely correct in saying this: it took me 3 tries to finally pass chemistry II–with a 1.7.
I wished that I was better at writing–but I’m not. I don’t understand subject:verb agreements and no matter how many edits I do or receive, I can’t escape passive voice. It drives me up the walls and even if I notice it, I can spend up to 30 minutes fixing one sentence alone and get so frustrated that I can’t even look at the assignment for a few days. It’s frustrating because I know I can tell a good story. I just don’t know how to do it the “right” way. So majoring in communications was off the table.
Anyways, I ended up pursuing a BA in Political Science and a BS in Environmental Science. I fucked my GPA to the top taking those classes that I desperately wanted to be good at until I found these two fields in which I was actually pretty good at. I have an incredible passion for the outdoors, and my affinity for interpersonal skill is really helpful here, as most wildlife biologists have trouble communicating their ideas in “layman’s terms”. Great, GREAT researchers, but not so skilled when it comes to bringing back the research to places where it can be understood–aka the general public and government.
But during my time in college, I spent a lot of time pursuing internships where I performed research and data analyses. Found out it isn’t all of math I’m bad at–I was the best student out of 250 in statistics! GAME-CHANGER! I then realized I’m actually really great with data processing using different programs, and thoroughly enjoy it as well. However, this doesn’t hit me until ~2 quarters until graduation. I don’t have any more time to take any classes that build on this skill, and I’ve already spent 5 years balancing two jobs, internships, volunteer opportunities, and school. The thought of more classes sickens me to the core, despite my love for learning.
So, here I am. I have two degrees which would essentially pair together well for environmental policy/science communication, although my writing is garbage and I don’t know how to fix it because I hate writing when it’s not required. I do quite enjoy it when I see a purpose for the piece, though. I also really enjoy data analysis, but I am not skilled in any language, nor have I taken any formal classes on a single program, so that is off the table with jobs as well. If I could start over, I think I would get a single degree in environmental sciences with a minor in quantitative sciences (essentially, statistical biology) and an emphases in some of the data programs I like. But, it’s obviously too late now.
I just don’t know what to do. I feel overwhelmed and like I just messed it all up. I wish I had more guidance before and during college. I’m absolutely terrified about being broke my whole life, as I have barely made it out alive as an independent college student. I have hopes that I will get hired as a research associate for environmental policy, then go on to get an MPA and become a policy analyst, although I can’t get the data analyses out of my head. I really enjoyed it, but I couldn’t imagine doing it for my whole life. I couldn’t imagine doing policy for my whole life either. Is there a position that mixes the two?
Do any of you resonate with this at all? How did you move forward?
**TL;DR: How much of an overlap is there in the field between data analyses and policy making for a single position? If there isn’t much, how can I decide which path to pursue?**
Submitted September 10, 2018 at 11:23PM by searingwaters
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