Older/Wiser: the end/beginning

 

If you’re reading this, there’s a 60-80% chance you’re my grandma. My guys ran the numbers, and it seems that my posts cater to a very niche audience.

But even if you’re not, thanks for sticking with the blog. This last piece will function as a form of closure, since y’all were probably thirsting to know what wisdom I gained from my internship. THIRSTING.

So here goes. After roughly 2 months of working in the Enforcement Division of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, this is what I’ve learned. We’ll start with more technical stuff, and then move on to the bigger picture:


  1. Environmental Enforcement is a long, tricky process that’s way harder on the little guys than it is on the big ones.

After reading and closing out a great deal of cases, you figure out that the vast majority of enforcement actions are with smaller businesses. These are the people who don’t have the resources to fully delve into all of the regulations, and often get violations for small things that they weren’t even aware of. The bigger corporations hire out environmental consultants or have in-house specialists, so they are usually more compliant with the regulations. They are also way more equipped to wheedle a good deal out of the State in the event of penalties.

2. When you get down to the wire, public opinion doesn’t necessarily matter .

This one’s a little tough to swallow. Basically, the vast majority of public hearings are for show. If a corporation is applying for some sort of permit, chances are they already know it fits with the rules. And if it fits with the rules, there’s no way for the State to deny anything, even if the public vehemently opposes whatever is being contested.

There’s no way around that. If you have an issue with an environmental-related project, you have to change the rules of the game, because you can’t just knock out the player.

[moving on to working in general]

3. If you think a task is beneath you, suck it up, get over yourself, and do it anyway.

Not every project in life is fun. But, once you knock out a particularly mundane task, chances are your supervisor will have to give you a new one. And, if you’re lucky, it’ll be a step above the last. Small victories.

4. Who you’re working with is often just as important as the work.

By all means, dive into your work. Get it done. Do it well. But don’t forget that there’s tons of value in getting to know your coworkers, too! Ask questions, and get involved with workplace activities. When people know and like you, they’ll set you up with cool gigs without even having to ask.

(I get the vibe that more experienced employees enjoy lending a hand to fresh faces. It probably makes them feel wise, or something.)

5. By golly have fun

We millennials are constantly, constantly pressured to go out, forge a career, and become a total success before we’re 25. Which is ironic, because I’m pretty sure our parents spent their collegiate summers lifeguarding / selling ice cream / chasing wild 80’s bands all over America. But nowadays, even entry-level jobs require experience or even a graduate degree, so internships are a must.

[In my opinion, this educational inflation nonsense is just some grand intergenerational plot to get us to pay their social security checks while they retire by the beach.]

So, even though we must toil, don’t forget to have a little fun along the way. You’re only young and pretty once; don’t spend that shriveling away in a cubicle.


 

That’s all, folks. Next step, my final year of college. In case you are wondering, yes – my car has made it all the way up to Pennsylvania from Texas. I do, however, have to park it on hills and clutch start it to get it to turn on. But that’s fixable, eventually.

Peace be with you, and enjoy this mini summer slideshow on your way out. Long live summer 2K16~

KJ

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