Pathways job offers rolling in for forestry students

Students are reaping the rewards of their intense efforts to secure employment with the federal government in time for graduation.

Several undergraduate and graduate students in the Forest and Rangeland Stewardship department have accepted jobs with the U.S. Forest Service Pathways program. Undergraduate student recipients include Trey Comer, Lauren Domnik, Jessica Reed, and CSU recent graduates Emily Garcia and Katie Fitzsimmons. Graduate student recipients are Sean Frey, Master of Natural Resource Stewardship program; and Tait Rutherford, M.S. Forest Sciences Program.

The Pathways program provides internship and professional employment opportunities for students and recent graduates that provide streamlined paths to permanent positions in the Federal workforce. However, getting this first job isn’t all that straightforward. It takes time to navigate the federal hiring system and students work hard to get there.

This group of students was recently notified and offered their positions after interviewing with hiring officials at the Society of American Foresters National Convention in November. After spending hours researching and completing  applications, many students said the interviews were the easiest part, especially if the applicant had spent time working for the agency before.

“Having a seasonal USFS position last summer gave me a ton of confidence since I was able to rattle off examples about work experience,” Trey Comer said. “It felt less like an interview and more like a conversation.”

Jessica Reed also drew on her past work experience with ease, but like the others felt humbled by her selection. When she first began college, she had never heard the word “natural resources” in relation to a career path. Her student advisers steered her inherent interests to the Forestry major and she never looked back.

“I’m honored that the hiring officials felt I was right for my position because the jobs are really competitive,” Reed said. “I also feel really lucky considering how much I didn’t know about the Forestry field until I began studying.”

For Sean Frey, receiving the position came at the end of a long road towards a career change. After several years as a school teacher, he came out west to gain experience with a conservation corps and continued to make USFS forestry connections as a firefighter. When he began his master’s program, he carefully tailored his coursework to fulfill the necessary qualifications required for his new profession. After unrelated technicalities dismissed some of his previous applications, he has been very grateful for this new result.

“It’s been a process,” said Frey. “I felt like things have been working against me forever, so this is really meaningful.”

All these students will complete their graduation requirements in May and move on towards permanence in the Pathways process. Comer, Reed and Rutherford will be heading for the Willamette National Forest in Oregon, while Frey and Domnik expect to be based out of Fort Collins.