Owner, Environmental Scientist/Wetland Specialist
Pintail Environmental Consulting Inc. in Erskine, Alberta
After graduating from the University of Guelph with a degree in Environmental Geography, Katie Bullick relocated to Alberta where she developed an expertise in wetland assessments, management, and restoration. Wetland systems vary greatly within the province of Alberta, and the unique challenges presented by each site adds an element of continual growth and learning to Katie's daily work. With over eleven years of professional consulting under her belt, Katie now works for herself as the owner of Pintail Environmental Consulting Inc.
1. Can you describe your career path since graduation?
After graduating, it was hard to find a job in Ontario. I eventually moved to Alberta, and I began interning for the Nature Conservatory of Canada. Following that, I worked with a stormwater engineering firm in Calgary, where I was responsible for the biophysical side of assessing wetlands, landscaping components of projects, and designing stormwater ponds. I was there for six years before moving to a different environmental consulting firm. I continued to focus on wetlands, but for federally-regulated oil and gas projects. After my last maternity leave, I was let go from that position, and that was when I started my own consulting company.
2. How do you incorporate geography into your work?
With any biophysical assessment, you need to have some understanding of geography. With my major, water was always the focus. Water remains central to the types of considerations and questions I ask in my work with wetlands. At each site, I have to think about the topography, the drainage, the types of river systems connected to the wetland, and how the water flows. Every single landscape presents a different set of challenges. I would say that I use a lot of the physical geography knowledge that I learned during my studies on a daily basis.
3. What skills do you wish you learned during your education that would have helped you in the job market today?
Business management would have been useful, but I would not have believed that I would eventually start my own company. In addition to managing my workload, it has been challenging to make sure that I am organizing my finances and recording everything. Marketing has also been a challenge -- creating a website, business cards, advertising and promoting my company. It has been relatively busy, and it has been a good learning experience.
4. Do you have any advice for students wishing to attain a fulfilling career in geography?
Find an area of study that both intrigues and challenges you. Aim for a balance between something that will get you a job and expand your career with something that you enjoy and allows you to continue growing. You would not want to succeed at something that you might end up hating.
Secondly, for students who are graduating or have recently graduated, I am finding LinkedIn to be a very useful networking tool. It is how I have contacted several companies that I now work for. Through LinkedIn, I can ask questions to people who have been in a similar situation, find support, and receive advice. Recruiters also use LinkedIn, so the more open you are with your profile, the more likely it is to get the attention of recruiters. It is a great resource to have.