At a recent Laurentians Live Series, Bob Sachs ’84 gave honest, encouraging advice to SLU seniors about tackling the job market after graduation. After leaving the North Country equipped with a major in Geology, Sachs did not have a plan of where or how to find a job. Times were tough for the New Hampshire ski junkie as the unemployment rate was 9.2% in September of 1984. Through personable networking skills, he made his way up the ranks at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and has been there for the past 20 years. About 85% of EPA workers have their Masters, yet Sachs never returned to graduate school, using only his St. Lawrence degree and networking skills as his key to success.
After two years of working at an outdoor sporting goods store, his first “real” job outside of college was with the United States Geological Survey (USGS) based out of New Jersey. Sachs openly admitted that his salary while working at the USGS was minimal and barely enough to support his outgoing, extroverted personality. He debated going to graduate school to further his education, but knew that his heart was not set on academia. He decided to simply work harder to prove himself in the workforce, despite his lack of higher education.
In 1991, Sachs committed to working for the EPA after landing an interview through a friend of a friend. Every job he received came back to networking and using his people skills to his advantage. The Washington DC office of the EPA employs 7 – 8,000 people. Sachs started out doing field work with the Travel and Tourism section before moving on to the Sustainable Floats project. He currently works in the executive management council, which is more of a desk job than his previous field experience.
The sum of Sachs’ advice is as follows: for the extroverts out there, use your amicable people skills to the best of your ability because you will be successful if you put the extra effort in. As for the introverts, step out of your comfort zone to put yourself out there. The fear and anxiety around life after college is natural. However, Bob Sachs exudes hope that hard work and a friendly personality can land you a job anywhere, including a federal agency.