William Kelly, a 2009 graduate of Tusculum College, returned to his alma mater on Thursday to tell current students about his career in the field of environmental science.
Kelly, who earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental science and creative writing from Tusculum, is a chemist for Triumvirate Environmental, one of the leading environmental firms in the New England region.
One of the best characteristics of his job is that it varies from day to day, Kelly told a group of students, faculty and staff attending the presentation.
While the title “chemist” may bring images to mind of a person working in a lab, he said, his position is very different as a majority of his time is spent in the field at customer sites.
His responsibilities vary depending on the assignment, Kelly said. He has inspected the waste handling and disposal procedures at university research labs, driven a truck of waste to a disposal site, cleaned up hazardous material spills and directed the implementation of better waste disposal procedures by a hospital following an inspection by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Kelly, who is from Sevierville, said his classes at Tusculum provided a good base of knowledge for him in his position although he has received much on-the-job training. In his job interview, Kelly said it was beneficial to him to be able to note that he had taken a course in industrial hygiene.
Another key, he said, to his hiring by the firm was the people skills he was able to learn through his leadership roles in the Upward Bound program and as an editor for the student newspaper at Tusculum, as well as his experience working in a retail store.
Triumvirate Environmental focuses on customer service, Kelly said, so the ability to relate to people and be able to handle a variety of situations including those in which people may not be receptive to what you have to say or challenge what they are directed to do is crucial.
The company also provides opportunities for advancement to a variety of positions in its various divisions, he said, noting that each person at the firm, even the accountants and the president, has served at some point as a chemist so each person has an understanding of the scope of the work the firm handles.
Kelly advised students to serve in an internship while in college if possible as employers want applicants who have had some experience in the field.