It is a question I get asked often from both those who have no idea what emergency management is about and from people who are looking to go into the profession.
I began in emergency management when college programs in this field were beginning to emerge onto the scene as a result from the terror attacks on September 11th. However I didn’t just jump into this field as many of my colleagues can attest in their journey.
I already finished my bachelor’s degree however this was not the answer for my career. I had such a wide variety of interests I had no idea where to start that I ended up not going anywhere. A very wise person gave me the advice to work thorough Richard N. Bolles book “What Color is Your Parachute”. During this “seeking” process the horrific terror attacks of 9/11 occurred and I felt a strong call to help but had no idea how.
After finishing the Bolles book I realized I enjoyed geography and natural disasters, so I pursued a graduate degree in Geography. Fast forward to my grad school time, I loved learning about weather, climatology and disasters but didn’t see any applicable way I could transfer what I was learning to help people in disasters.
As I was searching a topic for my graduate paper a series of conversations led me to an emergency manager named Hank. Hank was a Korean war vet who was the county’s emergency manager. As I talked with him about my interest in an internship he said sure, and also offered the chance to plan their county’s functional and full scale exercises coming up in a few months. I was shocked, scared and ecstatic at the opportunity. That discussion with Hank was extremely pivotal, for he opened the door of emergency management and became one of my first mentor along with the Deputy Director, Denise. My advising professor fully supported this unorthodox approach for an internship and graduate paper. There is more to the story but let me leave you with this for now . . .
Lesson for the experienced emergency manager:
Do not underestimate the powerful impact you can have by mentoring a person
starting out in emergency management.
Lesson for the seeker:
Finding the right career path is a process.
If you keep working at you will eventually get on the right path for your calling.
If you are thinking of a career in emergency management, what holds you back in starting the process? Leave me a comment to let me know.