My name is Melis Okter, I was an International Environmental Policy student at the Middlebury Institute. I am currently an environmental scientist and coastal planner at Dudek, in their Oakland office, and what I mainly focus on is sea level rise policy. I was studying science-based stuff in my undergrad and I had this moment when I felt like there was a lot of science going on but there was so much of the implementation.
So I took a shift from looking at science-based PhD programs to more practical masters or PhD programs and I came across the Middlebury Institute and the IEP program had a really good intersect of science and policy. That was the best part of it because if you don't have a lot of job experience, you can focus on what you did in your class; not what you learned, but how you implemented what you were learning.
Several of our classes, we had to write vulnerability assessment, or go out and do some sort of fieldwork that we translate into a policy. And those were directly applicable tools that I was able to show people while I was applying to jobs: "Hey look, I'm on the younger end of the spectrum. I don't have a whole lot of job experience, but this is how I know how to do a lot of this stuff."
I don't think there's any contaminated sites, but I just wanted to make sure there's someone confirming that.
The Middlebury Institute offers you a lot of flexibility to form what you're most interested in and we have access to some great positions around Monterey. We have NOAA right by us, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the Big Sur Land Trust and they all know our professors really well. So our professors are always looking to get their students these great positions and they get to know what you're interested in to give you job opportunities while you're there.
I think I valued most just how much the faculty cares about their students and really wants to see them succeed. Jason Scorse, the director of the IEP program actually sent me this job position. So I think a lot of them are really invested in their students post-graduation. In my undergrad, I went to UC San Diego, so it's huge, and I don't think I had a single professor that I interfaced with very often. So coming from a big school, I think the small campus in a small town with a really small program was really beneficial.