Ashley Ver Berg
Class of 2010
I began my studies as a biochemistry major, like many students convinced I wanted to go to medical school--organic chemistry successfully weeded me out second semester of sophomore year. I realized I wanted my undergraduate degree to take a broader view, and the interdisciplinary nature of the environmental studies major was appealing, so I picked it. You could also call my decision a subconscious uprising. I have always held a passion for addressing environmental issues, but I was particularly surprised this year when I found a report I wrote as a child on why, "Enhancing transit is the answer to stopping sprawl and the environmental problems sprawl creates" --evidently the prophesy had been written for my current career.
Upon graduation I worked as a Transitway Planning Intern to Metro Transit--an invaluable experience, which afforded me an insider look into how the Twin Cities metropolitan region manages and plans for its public transportation system. I then moved to the south of France to teach English for an academic year which increasing my French fluency and exploring Europe (by transit).
Currently I am a Transportation Planning Analyst (and our office's co-Vice President of Fun). I work for Kimley-Horn and Associates, which is a national civil engineering and design firm. We are comprised of consultants who are engineers, landscape architects, environmental scientists, and planners. Our practice areas vary from transportation to land development to aviation to traffic operations.
Planning is a broad field, and consulting adds more diversity to the equation. As such, a typical day for me varies week-to-week, month-to-month. What is consistent is the highly analytical nature of my work--a lot of time researching, writing, analyzing data in Access and Excel, creating maps in ArcGIS, preparing presentation materials for public outreach, problem solving on teams, and attending meetings. It is fast-paced and full of critical thinking. I work on projects that relate to all modes of transportation including light rail transit, bus rapid transit, streetcar, commuter rail, freight rail, managed lanes, and highways. As an office VP of Fun, I plan cool events to lighten the office atmosphere, like next month's burrito eating contest for charity.
My advice to current students would be to take ArcGIS with Jean Lavigne--even a semester will equip you with the basics necessary to incorporate this skill into your career. Focus on improving your writing and analysis skills. These will continue to develop throughout your life, but building a strong base in college is key. When job searching, you will be thankful for these tangible skills to compliment your liberal arts degree.