Olivia Santana, ’12, Carnow, Conibear & Associates, Ltd.

Carnow, Conibear and Associates, Ltd.

When Olivia Santana graduated from Calvin in 2012 with a biology major and environmental studies minor, she spent the summer searching and applying for jobs, including a field position with environmental consulting firm Carnow, Conibear & Associates, Ltd. Unfortunately, after a few months, none of these opportunities panned out. Olivia settled back home in the Chicago area and accepted a job as a shift manager at Wendy’s while continuing her search for a position in the environmental field.

After nine months, Carnow, Conibear & Associates contacted Olivia regarding an opening for an Administrative Assistant for Operations. They had kept her resume on file, and although not the position for which Olivia had originally applied, she was excited to accept the position and learn more about the field of environmental consulting.

Based on this experience, Olivia notes the importance of patience and trusting God’s timing in the midst of a job search process. “As you can see in my story, you never know how long it will take for a connection to come through.”

As the Administrative Assistant for Operations at Carnow, Conibear & Associates, Olivia wears many hats and no two days are the same. She does everything from answering phones and organizing paperwork, to writing proposals, communicating with clients, and reading lab results and writing reports.

Although Olivia currently works in the environmental consulting field, her interest in environmental issues began much earlier than her present role. While a student at Calvin, Olivia spent one summer completing an internship at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, New York. This experience gave her valuable skills in creating and implementing an independent research project, in which she studied the effect of anthropogenic noise on the song of the Veery bird. In addition, during the fall of her senior year, Olivia studied abroad in Belize through the Creation Care Study Program.

Olivia continues to share her passion for the environment, even outside of work, as she is starting to volunteer at a nature center near her home. She is also studying to take the GRE, with a goal to pursue graduate studies in either environmental education or aquatic ecology.

As Olivia continues on her career path, she knows to never underestimate the power of networking, and encourages other Calvin students and alumni to do the same. “Use the connections you have and work to make connections early and often,” she advises. “And don’t let this economy scare you. Be bold. Apply. And trust God’s timing.”

Written by Meredith Segur, posted July 2014