Jessie Sayre ’16, Lead CES Assistant

Jessie blog collage

As a graduating senior, it’s hard not to reminisce about my time at Puget Sound. I can remember arriving on campus for the first time like it was yesterday—moving in…navigating the cramped space…maneuvering between my entire family and my roommate’s parents…listening to my father exclaim that the food was so cheap in the SUB. And then there was my horrible LoggerCard photo…I look back at that photo now and it represents how far I’ve come.

Over the next four years, I experienced life at Puget Sound. I did many of the same things you did—tried to guess what song the bells are ringing, almost fell asleep in too many classes, stayed up late trying to cram for that 200-point test, and trudged through the rain to a friend’s house on a Friday night.

Among the various social and educational experiences I’ve had, one thing that I’m really proud to take away from college is the amount of experience I’ve gained, and how the departments on campus have helped turn me into the person I am today.

During my entire time at Puget Sound, I worked at Career and Employment Services (CES) as an Assistant. I spent my first year delving into the resources—learning the hundreds of ways that our office can help students with their post-graduation plans, and refining my customer service and problem solving skills. At the end of that year, I decided that I should start figuring out what exactly I wanted to do after graduation, and then work to get relevant experience.

I spent a lot of my free time meeting with CES’ career advisors and talking about my interests; I’d become really close with them throughout the year because I was in the office frequently for work, so they were able to check in with me while walking past the front desk to see where I was with my soul searching.

After summer break, I sat down again with a career advisor to discuss potential careers with animals. I knew I didn’t want to do veterinary work (blood and needles make me queasy) but the idea of working every day with a species other than my own seemed really exciting.

When a position opened at the Front Gate of Tacoma’s Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium (PDZA), I jumped at the opportunity to work there. The application required a resume, to which the career advisors looked over at least 4 times before it was ready to send in. I applied, and after an incredibly short interview, I was offered the job.

A few months later, I decided to take on another role that would give me animal contact, and to be honest it was because I was missing my pup back home. I perused LoggerJobs for babysitting positions, and found one with a professor who had a daughter…and a dog. I reached out, met the family (spending most of that time getting slobbered on), and walked away with a lot of dog hair clinging to my clothes, plus a third job. ~I’ve been with PDZA and the professor for almost 3 years now, and they’ve both been really influential in changing my outlook on life.

Through my work at PDZA, I realized that I wanted to work more hands-on with animals than in customer service. So my junior year was spent researching options near home (Northern Nevada) that could give me more animal experience. I found an awesome volunteer opportunity at Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care, Inc. where I would rehabilitate abandoned or injured wildlife.

There, I got to work with bears, baby deer, dozens of newborn raccoons, and even hawks and owls over the summer. I spent much of the time cleaning out cages and preparing meals for the animals within the shelter, and even got to attend a releasing ceremony for a few of the birds I helped raise. The experience was amazing, and I know now how rewarding it is to be able to give back and help wildlife.

As a senior, I’ve been honing in on after-college opportunities; I meet almost weekly (even for just five minutes) with the CES staff to discuss ideas for places to work when I graduate. They’ve helped me find an internship at an exotic animal refuge (I start in August!) and also helped me find contacts at PDZA and other zoos—at Woodland Park Zoo and Cougar Mountain Zoo—that I can network with and learn about their career paths.

Looking back over my years at the Puge, I really am grateful for all that CES has done to prepare me for post-graduation. Between the countless resume and cover letter reviews and all of the drop-in appointments spent talking about my goals, needs, and especially my frustrations, CES has heard a lot of whining from this kid. 😉

If I could impart any sort of wisdom or advice to my fellow Loggers, I’d say to get involved with CES as early as possible.

CES has resources for every situation, from what to wear in a professional environment, to the pros and cons of taking a gap year, to researching other countries to live and work in. And, the career advisors thrive on hearing how your career development is going—so make the most of the resources, services, and advice they offer. I’m glad I did!

Photo Credits | Kris Hay
© 2016 Career and Employment Services, University of Puget Sound