Regional Monitoring System Coordinator
Coastal First Nations - Great Bear Initiative in Vancouver, British Columbia
Lara Hoshizaki’s ability to create and maintain lasting networks was instrumental for a smooth transition from her Master’s studies (M.Sc. from The University of British Columbia in Resource Management and Environmental Studies) to her professional life. After serving as a GIS Analyst for several years, Hoshizaki embarked on new adventures through traveling, engaging in work unrelated to geography, meanwhile seeking clarity on how to become fully invested in work that she enjoys and believes in. Just to name a few of Hoshizaki’s activities during this period: she learned Spanish, worked in a butcher shop and walked across Northern Spain. Upon her return to Canada, Hoshizaki approached her work with newfound certainty that being a geographer – working with maps and data – was the very work that she loved.
1. Can you describe your career path since graduation?
I started working as a GIS analyst in an environmental consulting firm while I was completing my Master’s degree. I continued for a couple of years before pausing to travel for a year and a half. I needed to step away and re-evaluate what I was doing – whether it was something I am interested in and believed in. I traveled around and did everything. In some ways, geography was still involved; I was so interested in learning about the landscapes
and cultures of the communities. I came back to Canada and connected to colleagues from my previous position, and started working again in consulting. Two years ago, I transitioned to my current work with Coastal First Nations as the Regional Monitoring System Coordinator.
2. How do you incorporate geography into your work?
The work itself is very territorial based, so it is highly spatial. It is important to have a sense of the land and the sea that the people are working on and collecting information from. The First Nations have such an enduring relationship with their territories and certain locations. That is exhibited through their knowledge of the physical landscape, the stories they have of the land, the nomenclature in their languages, and how these names relate to the various systems that happen at specific places.
3. Looking back, what would you have done differently?
I would have tried to gain an idea of the different streams that I can go into within geography and expose myself to other possibilities outside of academia. I gained an experience through my path, and I am happy to be where I am. However, there were not many structures in place to support students in finding work outside of academia. Individuals were helpful, but the systems in place were not particularly geared towards finding other paths.
4. Do you have any advice for students wishing to attain a fulfilling career in geography?
The hardest thing is to discover what you are interested in and what skills are required to work in that domain. Too often, especially now, people are worried about what jobs they should go for and what they should do to make money. However, if you have a passion, then you can always find a niche for it. Also, make use of the people in your department. I had great relationships with my fellow students and my professors. They have a vast range of skills and experiences. Even now, I maintain an active network of people I met throughout my studies, and that has been extremely helpful.