Hannah VanLaningham is a post-graduate at The Ohio State University studying Geography. She has worked as an intern in the Office of Environmental Services since June 2016. Here is her story:
What skills have you gained from working at ODOT?
ODOT is my first true office job; prior I worked in restaurants and retail throughout my entire undergrad. Going out in the field is always great as you know how you'll be spending your entire day. Sometimes office days can be a little daunting as it can be difficult to find ways to take up your time. ODOT has taught me effective time management as well as how to continuously seek out and develop new projects.
What is the most surprising thing you've learned about ODOT?
ODOT is not your stereotypical government job, especially within the Office of Environmental Services. Everyone is so friendly and always willing to help out. There is cross training available, allowing you to reach out to different departments to gain lots of field experience.
How have your education experiences helped you here at ODOT?
My undergrad experience was interesting as it was a mix of biological geography and industrial/infrastructure geography. I went into my internship already having an understanding of NEPA and the endangered species act but until this internship, I wasn't sure how those fit in with the infrastructure work ODOT is required to do. I had no idea that my knowledge of biogeography, population geography, and industrial geography would come in handy!
How have your experiences here at ODOT helped with your education?
Absolutely. My undergrad degree was in Geography and even though I was required to take a couple of environmental science and biology courses, my main focus was on population geography - how humans interacted with their industrial and natural worlds. I didn't know I wanted to do ecological work until I was gifted the opportunity to work outside almost everyday. This has inspired me to join AmeriCorps where I will be working with a nonprofit, specializing in environmental stewardship.
What are your goals after graduation?
My goals are still very up in the air, but ODOT has helped to steer me in the right direction. Prior to this internship, I was never the girl who enjoyed camping, hiking, or just being outside in general. But after spending so much time performing field work, I've developed a passion for the outdoors from wading through streams for mussels, to catching and gathering data on snakes, to exploring old train tunnels for bats. Whatever I end up doing, I know that I'll be wanting to spend the majority of my time outside in the thick of all the hands-on action.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I like to do lots of things during my spare time! I am at the gym almost everyday taking a spin class, struggling through Pilates or lifting. You can also find me at one of the metro parks around Columbus going for run or on a long weekend hike with my friends. I also enjoy longboarding, biking and relaxing on the patio with a glass of wine and my roommates!