Environmental Sciences Alumni Spotlight: Tyler Hays

Each semester, the Environmental Sciences Academic Program highlights alumni who represent the diverse and involved alumni population that graduated from our program. This semester the spotlight focuses on, Tyler Hays.

Tyler Hays

Name: Tyler Hays

Graduation Year: May 2014

Focal Area: Sustainable Materials and Technology

Major: B.S. Environmental Science

Minors: Sustainable Materials and Technology, Spanish

1. How did your experience at NC State help you find a job after graduation? What initial steps did you take when you were looking for a job?

As an undergraduate in Environmental Sciences, I knew I wanted to pursue a graduate education.  I found a research opportunity from a professor I met through a class in my focal area who was looking for an undergraduate researcher.  I plan to continue my graduate education in the future, so I have not spent much time looking for a job.  However, I know that the ES program as well as the College of Natural Resources at NCSU offer great resources and networking opportunities to promote oneself in a job market, and to develop professionally.

2. Did having a degree in ES and your focal area open the door to more opportunities than you initially expected?

The ES program provided me with holistic knowledge of relevant specializations within the ES subject area, which helped me decide on a focal area.   The opportunity to select and customize a focal area within the ES degree is invaluable.  It was through my focal area that I found an undergraduate research position, which led to a graduate research assistantship.  I found the focal area to be a great experience, placing that kind of flexibility in the hands of the student and allowing them study their desired field within ES subject areas.

 3. If you decided to not continue your education upon graduation, do you plan to return to school? If yes, what do you plan to study?

I plan to pursue a Ph.D. after I finish the M.S. this summer 2016.  I plan to study Forest Biomaterials, with research regarding environmental and human health impacts of bio-material and bio-fuel production and use.   

4. Name a class you took at State that you took the most away from?

The class I took the most away from at NCSU was Global Environmental Politics.  For me, this class provided a much needed perspective on the motivations for and international relations surrounding environmental studies.  

5. While you were at State what was your biggest challenge? 

My biggest challenge as an undergraduate at NCSU was finding the recipe for success as an undergraduate research assistant.  I was assisting research being conducted in a foreign department to me, the Department of Forest Biomaterials, and I didn’t have a strong background related to this research.  There was a steep learning curve associated with learning not only the research material, but also the protocol on conducting research.  

6. What major piece of advice would you give to the Freshman class?

I would advise the Freshman class to not stress early in their college career about what specific area they want to study.  For me, this process developed as I took more classes in my first two years and familiarized myself with what was interesting to me.  Once I knew what interested me, I later developed a custom focal area that best suited me; the custom focal area maximally contributed to my academic growth.  

7. Why did you decide to be apart of the ES program? What attracted you to it?

The relevant subject area of ES and the personal resonance I felt with the material, as well as the flexibility of the program is what attracted me to the program.