Meet Alumnus Marc Sheahin | Environmental Biology M.S.'19
"I earned my M.S. in Environmental Biology from Hood College in 2019. Less than two weeks after graduation, I was offered a position within OPP as a federal employee"
Marc Sheahin, M.S. Environmental Biology
- Environmental Biology (M.S.)
Could you please share about your education and professional background?
I graduated from Towson University in 2012 with a B.S. in Environmental Science and a minor in Biology. I completed two internships while I was pursuing my degree with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the National Zoo.
After graduation, I took advantage of the many biomanufacturing positions that Frederick, MD has to offer. I was hired at Lonza as a lab technician in the cell therapy department. After three years of working in the lab, I decided to pursue a job more closely related to my degree.
In 2015, I was hired as a government contractor working in the Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP) at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In my role as a Data Analyst, I was responsible for processing pesticide registration documents. The flexibility of my work schedule allowed me to attend graduate courses in the evening.
I earned my M.S. in Environmental Biology from Hood College in 2019. Less than two weeks after graduation, I was offered a position within OPP as a federal employee. I am currently a Biologist in the registration division.
You have recently presented at the Hood Graduate Alumni Panel. How has your career changed since last year, when you were one of the students listening to alumni advice at this same panel?
As a contractor, it was never a guarantee that I would eventually be hired as a federal employee. I just knew government experience could lead to an even better opportunity.
I attended the panel last year because I was interested to learn how others in my field found their current position. I learned a lot at the panel including how to network and non-traditional places to look for openings, such as the Conservation Job Board.
I encourage all graduate students to attend this event when offered. In the last year, I was hired in a federal position within the EPA. The application process for applying to federal positions can be complicated and I wanted to share what I knew about it at the panel this year.
Could you please tell us more about your job with EPA?
The registration division within OPP is responsible for conventional chemical product registrations, amendments, tolerances, experimental use permits, and emergency exemptions.
Within the division, I am responsible for the registration of fungicides and herbicides. Though my official title is “Biologist”, I am more like a risk manager.
Our mission at the EPA is to create standards and laws promoting the health of individuals and the environment. As a risk manager, I support the mission by ensuring the pesticide products we register will not cause harm to the user or the environment where that product is being used.
What do you like the most about your daily work? How has Hood's Graduate School prepared you for this career path?
My favorite part about the daily work is the amount of collaboration required. My colleagues bring unique perspectives and experiences to the table, but we have one common goal and that is to protect the environment. That is what makes the EPA such a great place to work.
Hood College prepared me for my career by pushing me out of my comfort zone. I am naturally an introvert and found working in groups challenging, but many of the courses required collaboration with my peers. I gained valuable skills including communication and the ability to work together to meet a deadline. I formed many friendships in Hood's Environmental Biology program, and I am still in touch with many of my classmates.
Do you have any advice for Environmental Biology students who are currently looking for a job?
My advice to job seekers is to be open to a variety of opportunities. You may not land your “dream job” right after graduation, but what you pick up along the way can make you a more appealing candidate at your next interview.
It also gives you a chance to learn what kind of things you like and don’t like. In my case, I learned I was not well suited for a lab position. However, I gained personal and professional skills that translated to the responsibilities of my next position. Make as many connections as you can and stay in touch with them.
Most importantly, be patient. Good luck!