Flying Fish

Reflections: Celebrating Endings as New Beginnings
by Nicole Carlozo -- May 23rd, 2014

I looked up today and realized that the trees were no longer in bloom. Remnants of white and pink flowers lay lifeless on the freshly cut grass outside my office building. Spring, although not fully behind us, is making way for summer. And summer marks the end of my time as a NOAA Fellow.

With just short of three months left, I’m surprised at my composure, my sense of calm. I should be panicked, desperately grappling for the next opportunity. Instead, I feel strangely confident. Of course, I do worry. Who doesn’t? But not about my career. I worry about my student loans, the impending car payment I’m sure to have, about finding a job with health insurance…alas, I didn’t choose this field for a particular salary or a lofty lifestyle. But when it comes to making my way as a Coastal Manager, I’m not worried. Every internship, job, field experience, and class has led me from one opportunity to the next in a strange, winding and miraculous pathway that I never could have predicted. And I know that my time as a NOAA Fellow will add to that journey.

In line with my 1-year anniversary post, here are a few thoughts on this rewarding field and what I’ve learned about myself along the way. Please add to this list in the comments section!

1. Working for a better tomorrow. Every person has strengths and weaknesses that put us where we are today. Don’t be ashamed of your weaknesses – they make you who you are. Instead, rely on your strengths to combat your shortcomings, to better yourself, and in turn make a difference in the world. Weakness is a reality of the human condition, but we can always work towards improvement in ourselves and our society.

I may not have the most assertive personality, but preparedness, organization, and compassion go a long way.

2. Give and take. Collaboration has been vital in my work at MD DNR. I have worked with scientists, resource planners, coastal managers, GIS technicians, PhD students, and restoration specialists to complete my GIS models and investigate the connection between restoration and climate change. As an introvert who thrives working independently, I recognize that I would not have succeeded by myself. The countless meetings, phone calls, emails, and interviews I had with a suite of intelligent individuals was vital to my work.

I may not be a wetlands expert, but I was able to identify wetland restoration opportunities with the help of DNR, NRCS, MDE, UMD, and EPA colleagues. I thank them all, especially those that sat through 3 hour meetings with me, making sure that the science was accurately represented.

3. Failures lead to successes. Sometimes things don’t turn out as you originally envisioned. Trial and error may knock you on your butt, but in the end you’ll rise up the better for it. I know it seems like a waste of time, but sometimes the process isn’t meant to be straightforward.

Not every GIS tool I tried panned out. Not every idea came to fruition. But I learned a lot along the way and have a better product for it.

So as I finish writing up metadata for my GIS models and putting the final touches on my fellowship report, I won’t worry about what comes next. I’ll simply remain open to wherever life takes me. And perhaps I’ll continue adding to the above list and growing in ways I never expected.

This NOAA Newsletter highlights the Fellowship program and projects. See pages 2-3 to learn more about my experience.

This NOAA Newsletter highlights the Fellowship program and projects. See pages 2-3 to learn more about my experience.

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