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An Inside View: Working for a State Agency

The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality is one of the popular state agencies Forestry and Environmental Resources students seek employment. From the mountains to the coast, NC DEQ has offices across the state protecting the diverse environmental resources of North Carolina, including divisions such as Air Quality, Marine Fisheries, Waste Management, and Environmental Education.

NC DEQ’s mission statement: “Providing science-based environmental stewardship for the health and prosperity of ALL North Carolinians.”

What is it like working for NC DEQ?

In order to relay experiences and potential opportunities to the FER community, the information below was gathered through interviews and personal contact with employees Matthew Hill of NC DEQ’s Department of Air Quality and Kelsey Calendar, a recruiter from NC DEQ.

Photo from NC DEQ Facebook Page.

Previous North Carolina State University student and Environmental Sciences major, Matthew Hill, found a position with the Division of Air Quality (DAQ) of NC DEQ as an Environmental Specialist in the Mooresville Regional Office. Matthew chose to work in environmental regulation with NC DEQ because his work would make an impact on people’s lives by promoting cleaner air in North Carolina. As an Environmental Specialist with DAQ, Matthew specializes in different areas of Air Quality including ambient monitoring (operating ambient air monitors), compliance (ensuring facilities have and are following air permits), and citizen complaints (addressing concerns from the public about open burning, orders, and other similar issues).

In addition to seeing firsthand the impacts of his work, Matthew also enjoys the flexibility of his schedule. While most days are planned based on current events, according to Matthew, “…the ability to set a schedule of what you would like to do and when you want to do tasks is one of my favorite parts of working for DAQ. If you would like to do all your field work Monday – Wednesday and do your report writing at the end of the week, you can schedule it that way.” Comparatively, Kelsey enjoys the work-life balance working with NC DEQ allows. According to Kelsey, “If you are looking to work for an employer that makes a difference in your state, allows you to give back to your community as well as give you a work-life balance, NC DEQ is where you want to work.”

Click here to read more about Matt Hill and his position with NC DEQ.

What exactly is NC DEQ looking for in an employee?

Kelsey Celendar, NC DEQ recruiter, offered advice to FER students hoping to seek employment with the Department of Environmental Quality:

In order to apply for a position with the NC Department of Environmental Quality, candidates must apply for positions on the jobs website. When applying for a state job, the application makes all the difference. This application is more similar to a profile, which is reviewed by Human Resources screeners, subject matter experts, and hiring managers. When applying to these positions, keep in mind only the most qualified candidates are offered an interview. Read the job posting very carefully and make sure your application clearly states you meet all the criteria in knowledge, skills, and abilities sections as well as the education and experience section.

Tips and tricks for filling out NC DEQ applications:

  • Read the entire job posting. Pay close attention to bold and/or underlined words. The hiring team is really interested in the underlined and/or bolded content.
  • Show off all your hard work! Be sure to add all your experience, education, awards, certificates, and duties. Even if your earliest relevant experience is over 10 years ago, that experience is still important.
  • Be detailed when explaining your experiences. Do not assume the person reading the application will know specific information about your skillset.
  • Read the supplemental questions, and make sure your application can answer these questions.

Advice on pursuing employment with NC DEQ:

If the information above sparks an interest in working with NC DEQ, Kelsey and Matthew offer this advice to potential applicants: try not to get discouraged! Based on Matthew’s experience, the application process can be slow so be prepared to wait in case an interview offer is not immediate. Additionally, both Kelsey and Matthew encourage future applicants to make sure they are qualified for the position posted. Taking lower paying positions to gain relevant experience in a field is acceptable. Upon graduation, Matthew had very few job prospects because he was applying to jobs for which he was unqualified. He picked up multiple contract jobs across the Triangle to gain experience. “Accepting that the path to success wasn’t a straight shot, but more of a ladder with different sized steps was the most difficult thing to accept after I graduated,” Matthew admitted.

Written by: Leslie Smith