FER Alumni Spotlight: Luke Lolies

Luke Lolies grew up in rural northeastern North Carolina. He received his Associates of Science from College of the Albemarle and transferred to NC State to complete a degree in Fisheries and Wildlife Conservation Biology. During Luke’s time at NC State, he spent his summers interning as a Biological Technician in National Wildlife Refuges such as the Great Dismal Swamp and Necedah. After Graduating in June 2017, Luke took a temporary job working for the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission on game lands in Williamston, NC. In February of this year, he took a promotion to a permanent position at the New Bern depot as a Conservation Technician. Luke recently accepted a promotion as a Technical Assistance Biologist this September. As a Technical Assistance Biologist, he provides guidance to land owners that have an interest in improving the quality of habitat for wildlife.

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?

Education is the foundation to start on and the FWCB program is top notch. The faculty is exceptional, they are so willing to go above and beyond to help you succeed. Taking the knowledge I gained from my classes, experience from internships, and connections made along the way is the combination that led me to where I am today. Well, at first it was hours of resume editing. A clean looking resume is only as good as the experience within it and the connection to the job outside of it. I met with two FWCB professors and one NCWRC staff member to get the kinks out. From there it was time to apply for jobs and oh boy did I apply for jobs. I applied for jobs on Texas A&M, USAJobs, and state job boards sometimes multiple jobs a day. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get a job right away.

2. 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?

Full disclosure, I attempted to get into an assistantship program to complete my masters right after graduation, unfortunately I was unable to land a position. At the time it was heart breaking but looking back on it now, I am glad to be in the career field gaining experience. I plan to reapply in the near future. I would like to work on a project involving early successional habitat and game species. What I study is not nearly as important as the skills I will gain from working through the project. I would encourage each of you that have an interest in attending grad school to talk to professors that hire students and students that are currently in grad school. Ask professors what they look for in a student and what your different avenues are to obtain further education. Ask the students what advice they have for you to land a grad position. It is extremely competitive so keep your grades up and take the GRE multiple times, soon!

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

This is a tough one… I could list several! I will stick with Dr. Moorman’s Forest Wildlife Management class, especially in my current position as a wildlife biologist. I work with land owners looking to improve habitat to meet their wildlife objectives. This class really delivers that habitat management topic that we all love to learn more about. Forest Wildlife Management was a turning point at which, I knew what I wanted to do for a career. I thoroughly enjoy habitat management and this class is much of the foundation that I stand on today.

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

Now is the time to prepare for landing a job. The great news is that you have four years to do it! I think there is this false sense in the academia setting, of what the “real world” is going to be like after you graduate. It is almost as if getting a permanent job is going to be a walk in the park, believe me when I say that is not the case. If you plan to attend summer camp, I challenge you to also complete one if not two internships! There are advantages to both and you will be in a good place when you graduate having a mix of experience to put on your resume. You have a unique opportunity at State to get involved with extracurriculars in your field. Get involved! I know how easy it is to just go to class and then go home. Contact staff who are working in the career field and they will give you an idea of what it takes to make it. I work in the coolest, most rewarding career field in the world and wouldn’t trade it for anything! If you have any idea of what you might want to do one day contact a staff member in that job, even if it is not exactly what you want to do. It’s perfectly okay if you don’t, contact a variety of job titles and you may find out what you are interested in. Ask questions! What path did you take? Do you have any advice for me? Can I volunteer or job shadow with you? Sometimes it is not even about the work you are volunteering to do as much as getting know people and expanding your network. If you have the chance to attend an interview panel with professionals, do it. I learned a lot about what the different pathways people took to get to where they are. Talk to staff that have been in the work force for a variety of years. The job requirements today are different than what they were 30 years ago so know that someone with less experience will be the most comparable to the job market you will enter. The most important thing you will read here today, is that your years at school will go by way to fast, so enjoy every day as if it is your last! #GOPACK

5. Why did you decide to be apart of the FWCB program? What attracted you to it?

Growing up I always was a State fan and really for no apparent reason because I didn’t know that much about the school, nor did I pick it up from a family member. I always knew that I wanted to do something with wildlife ever since I was 10 or 12. By the time I was in high school I was set on being a wildlife biologist and haven’t looked back. After researching schools in NC with wildlife programs it narrowed it down quite a bit. Still, already being a State fan and reading so many encouraging things about the FWCB program it was a no brainer for me. There was no big toss up, it was simple, I was going to State. Now, going through the program I would and do recommend it to anyone that wants to be in the wildlife field. I was nervous about a big school, however once you are there taking your major classes you know everyone including the professors. It was the perfect match for me and I am so glad I was able to be apart of the FWCB program.