Why did you choose Emergency Management and Disaster Science as your major?
As a kid I loved the movie “Twister,” read books over the Titanic sinking, and got excited during power outages. My parents were probably a little concerned by those fascinations. Regardless, that natural curiosity to understand commonly feared events led me to a truly rewarding undergraduate experience.
Disasters inherently involve the interaction of the natural world and the communities that humans create. My major has required me to understand that intricate interaction. I can think critically about cultural context, vulnerable population characteristics, research resilient power sources for urban spaces, visualize census data through GIS software, create hazard rating equations and rating systems, and collaborate within a community of diverse actors.
So, why did I choose Emergency Management and Disaster Science as my major? I get to continually develop my core skillset to positively impact future generations, all while being able to further understand the endless definitions of humanity and the beauty of the Earth that we live on. I could not ask for more.
Tell us about your internship experience. What interests you most about the organization, and how does your major fit in with the internship?
I currently work as a business analyst intern with National Indemnity Company, a property and casualty insurance provider based out of Omaha. The insurance industry involves more moving parts than I had expected, which has really interested me. As a business analyst intern, I am able to examine how hazards threaten the ability for the company to continue their operations, including offices from across the contiguous United States. I am most interested by the variance in hazard mitigation planning across local jurisdictions. No two hazard mitigation plans look the same. For that reason, I have developed a standardized hazard analysis tool to assess the risks present at each of the company’s office locations and been able to apply my education.
What is the most rewarding aspect of the internship?
The most rewarding aspect of this internship has been the trust that my supervisor places in my ability to apply concepts I have been learning for years within my program of study. Being affirmed from professionals is incredibly rewarding and encouraging for my future in the field. I have also been given the space to mess up a little, be corrected, and learn from that without serious consequence. My supervisor has also been unbelievably supportive and provided great guidance.
What is the most challenging aspect of the internship?
Much of my education in Emergency Management and Disaster Science has been based in the public sector and understanding how public entities function in disasters. Since National Indemnity Company is a private institution, their approach to resilience planning and related efforts are inherently unique to their needs. For example, the planning structure used in private industry may reflect a more extensive focus and dependence on technological resilience. These culture-clash challenges provide endless learning opportunities. Specifically, I feel better prepared to engage in cross-sector collaboration.
How has this experience impacted your career after graduation and beyond?
The experience I have gained during my time as an intern makes me better prepared for a career when I graduate. The skills and lessons I have gained can be applied universally to any career I go into. Overall, this experience has made me feel confident in my abilities and that matters most of all.
What are your plans once you have completed your degree?
After graduation, I will be continuing my employment with National Indemnity. It has been 18 years of constant school, so I am going to enjoy life for a year without the worry of homework, papers, or speeches to give. By the fall semester of 2020 I will be pursuing a master’s degree in either public administration or urban studies. My driving goal is to start a nonprofit which provides affordable and accessible business continuity and disaster recovery planning services to small local businesses and other local nonprofits.
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