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Environmental Studies

40th Anniversary: ES Alumni On Life After Bowdoin
Thai Hangock ’10, ES/Econ

Posted March 06, 2013

In celebration of the Environmental Studies Department 40th anniversary, alumni who majored in ES are telling their stories of how the major affected their Bowdoin experience and life after college.

Thai Hangock ’10
The Kendall Foundation

ha-ngocWhat was your path from Bowdoin to your current position?

During my senior spring at Bowdoin I was thinking about starting an environmental consultation organization with two other ES students, but we realized we wouldn’t be able to make enough money without more experience in the field.  My first opportunity to work was through AmeriCorps MASLIFT, it was a one year program where I was placed at the Sudbury Valley Trustees as a land steward monitoring the conservation land and writing reports.  I decided land conservation wasn’t what I wanted to do, that my passion was working with people.   So I spent a few months working at an energy efficiency organization in Massachusetts, the Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships, working with different utilities to make their energy efficiency programs more efficient.  After interning there for a few months I found a job application for the Kendall Foundation which is a family foundation that supports non-profits in New England and sustainable food systems, anything from organic farming to healthy food access for low-income populations.

Do you have any career advice that you would offer current seniors?

Definitely networking is a really important thing to do.  Just being able to present yourself and your interests in a way that someone else can understand is very important.  I must have done 30-40 informational interviews to get advice from other people and also learn how to articulate what I was interested in.

Did you have internships while you were at Bowdoin?

During the summer after my freshmen year I worked at a green architecture firm in Boston doing a lot of office work and project management work.  Then after my second year I worked at a venture capitalist firm in Boston working with green technology. I focused on carbon sequestration and how to use it to produce oil by injecting it into the ground and storing it.
The summer of my junior year I received a Psi Upsilon fellowship through the ES program.  I was placed at the Topsham Planning Department where I helped develop their baseline emissions survey to determine their emissions as a society.  That work then was pulled into the work I did during my senior seminar.  That position was very important to me because I worked in a town position in the non-profit sector. 

When you were a student at Bowdoin, what was the most pressing environmental concern?

Greenhouse gas emissions and climate action on a local level were the most pressing environmental concerns, which is why I was so interested in the internship at the Topsham Planning Department.

How has your major in ES contributed to your personal life?

In general, the values that come with being interested in environmental studies, so a lot of sustainability concerns in terms of where my food is coming from and things like that.  As well, in my daily life I focus on things such as taking public transportation and turning off the lights.  

Have you had any academic or professional training beyond Bowdoin?

I took a leadership training course this past spring called, Facilitative Leadership, as part of my job training.  

Do you have any advice for ES students looking for internships?

Definitely be open minded in terms of what might be out there, you may not find the perfect internship, but what you learn and the skills you develop are pretty similar across the board in any internship or entry level position.  Even though it might not be the perfect internship, it can help you get your foot in the door in the field you’re interested in. 

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