Creating, developing, and finishing a project like a thesis is a daunting task. The creation of something meaningful was done, in this case, by asking the right questions. I have had endless opportunities to practice asking questions in the ENVS program (but that’s for the next post). The capstone process, more specifically, has been a time for me to put this one major skill to the test and use it to craft my thesis argument from start to finish. Because this post is coming a bit late, I will be using it as an opportunity to reflect on the capstone process in general, unpack my 5-year plan a bit, and discuss how I want the coming years to reflect my work at Lewis & Clark.
Jim, Liz, and Jessica (being the powerhouses of the program) have walked us all through how to ask questions in many different contexts over the years. We have applied the hourglass structure (including framing, focus questions, and a situated context) to nearly everything that we have written in each of their breadth courses. It is evident that my personal skills have progressed throughout the semesters in this arena by looking at my DS site and papers I wrote/was involved in writing. In each of these instances, it is clear that I focused a lot on the structure of my writing as well as the questions that I was asking.
My thesis feels like the culmination of all of this work on asking questions and I just hope that shines through in my final outcome. Structuring a paper by asking framing and focus questions makes the writing process easier but, more importantly, it is a great way to communicate findings and answer questions in general. The ability to think in this way is definitely one of my biggest takeaways from college, and this was only reassured through the capstone process.
Moving Forward and the Next 5 Years?
It suffices to say that recent events have put my future somewhat on hold. Before any uncertainty, I had planned on securing a research position or internship working with Portland Metro or another local organization. This path would have been ideal for continuing my capstone work because it would potentially allow for me to be involved with local resource management organizations. I would love to follow my career path from here and asses my need to participate in a graduate program, among other things.
I have also been very interested in finding a way to continue my capstone ideals abroad in line with my desire to teach English in Paris. This is obviously another thing that has been muddled by the pandemic but, regardless, I have been juggling these two unrelated (but not opposing?) interests for years with little revelations having occurred.
Similar to what many others have said already, it is likely that I will work the first job I can get my hands on when we are allowed to do so again. My priorities moving forward will be paying my rent and staying alive but, after that, I would like to work in a field that interests me and try and mix some traveling in there somewhere. I get the feeling that I should be taking this easier and that I shouldn’t be so worried about “getting it all done” so quickly.
My capstone has been a great opportunity to think about the kinds of answers that I am looking for, and how to ask the right questions to get me there. I know that I want to work in land management and I will take almost any position I can find that aligns with that interest. Writing and researching my thesis has allowed me to explore this area of interest in a bit of depth and confirm, for myself, that I could pursue a career in the broad fields of land and resource management. The ability to ask questions, like those in my capstone, will be invaluable as I pursue these goals in the future. For the time being, however, I just need to get my work done, and then, come summer, I will be able to focus my energy on finding a position in my field in some way or another (but don’t rush it).