Joe Arevalo ’13 works as a Real Property Appraiser for the City of Holland, but he had never even heard of such a career until a couple years ago.
The summer before Joe graduated, he was still deciding what kind of career he wanted to pursue after Calvin. He found a summer job as a field inspector for Grand Rapids Township, taking photos and collecting property measurements as part of a property reappraisal the township was conducting.
“I pursued the job because I was studying geography and it was somewhat spatial and because it involved walking around outside and looking at homes, which sounded interesting,” Joe explains. “I enjoyed my experience, but had no idea how someone entered the assessing profession.”
Nearing graduation, Joe was still uncertain of what career path to pursue, but he saw a posting on CalvinLink for an Appraiser Trainee position with the City of Holland. Given his experiences collecting data for Grand Rapids Township and his GIS mapping skills that he developed through his geography classes, Joe applied for the position. A few months into the job, he knew this was the career for him.
“This is a career where I get to map, use my interpersonal and analytical skills, can walk around outside if the weather is nice, and can take on a variety of responsibilities throughout an annual cycle,” says Joe. “Additionally, fairness has always been important to me, so a career that exists to ensure the fair and equitable distribution of property taxes is very fulfilling.”
A typical day for Joe varies throughout the year since the assessing field follows an annual cycle. His day-to-day work could involve inspecting and measuring residential property, tracking and checking permits taken out for construction work, maintaining the city's GIS layers of property boundaries and roads, interacting with the public over the phone or in the office, and studying property sales.
Joe’s position as an Appraiser Trainee was originally supposed to end after eight months but became permanent after he displayed the ability to take on more responsibilities and a willingness to learn. Joe continues to learn on the job, as he is taking classes to become a Michigan Certified Assessing Officer (MCAO). He also recently attended a Michigan Assessor's Association conference and obtained his Michigan Certified Assessing Technician certificate.
Even though Joe did not necessarily plan to pursue a career in assessing, he feels that his Calvin experiences prepared him well for his position. His classes introduced him to spatial thinking, GIS, and systematic problem solving. Additionally, Joe worked on campus in a variety of roles, including being a GIS lab technician, weather station technician, and mentor for the First Year Research in Earth Sciences program. In the spring of his senior year, he was a policy intern with West Michigan Environmental Action Council.
Joe realizes these experiences outside of the classroom were invaluable in his transition to the workplace, and he advises Calvin students to get involved: “Whether it's sports, work, student organizations, or volunteering, the more you can expose yourself to, the better equipped you'll be to step out of the Calvin bubble,” he says. “And if you are someone like me who graduates with a degree that doesn't line up with a specific career, stay hopeful! It may take time to find a specific career or field you are passionate about, but if you look hard enough and have patience, you'll find it.”
Written by Meredith Segur, posted September 2014