February 23, 2016
As seen in College of Saint Benedict Magazine
A liberal arts education means not only finding your first dream job, but also being able to find a second dream when life throws a curveball.
After graduating from Saint Ben's in 2008, Nicole Kessler worked as an environmental systems flight controller for NASA's International Space Station (ISS) Program in Houston, Texas. Three short years later, she was at NASA when the Space Shuttle program ended, the Constellation program was cancelled and SpaceX began delivering cargo to the International Space Station.
When one door closes, another opens, and Nicole saw this as an opportunity to pursue a new interest that developed as these events unfolded - policy making.
"As flight controllers we were directly impacted by these [policy] decisions, and I wanted to know more about the decision-making process," Kessler said.
She went on to graduate school to study science policy, and while there became more interested in energy and environmental issues. Those interests led to her next job doing energy efficiency research at the Center for Energy and Environment (CEE).
Electronics with Tom Kirkman and Modern Dance with Leigh Dillard
Playing ultimate Frisbee with the CSB Hucklings
I can make balloon animals
Traveling to Japan last summer (2014) with the Japan Foundation's Center for Global Partnership
I learned the importance of surrounding yourself with supportive, caring people. Life and work can get hectic, and for me, it's been important to have family and friends close by to keep me balanced and keep perspective on what is important.
Apply for summer internships. You never know who you will meet, what connections you will make or what skills you will develop that could help you land the job you want after college or further in the future.
As I think about the direction I may want my career to take, the question I've been trying to answer is how to best utilize my policy degree in a technical setting.
Studying physics and mathematics at CSB gave me the quantitative and problem-solving skills I needed to do the technical work I wanted, but the liberal arts education also taught me the importance of being well-rounded and the importance of tackling problems from different perspectives.
Keep working hard because we need you! Be brave, never stop learning.