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Tanya Saxena

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By Pamela Dean

Environmental Science & Resource Management major Tanya Saxena was grateful her internship at the Camrosa Water District was able to continue once the corona virus pandemic forced the state to implement mandatory stay at home orders.

“Luckily, most of my work is done on the computer and once the school’s work from home orders were announced, I went to the office one last time and my supervisor helped me set up remote access to my work computer through my laptop,” Saxena explains.

The Santa Clarita resident had been working as a geographic information system (GIS) intern through CSUCI’s Hank Lacayo Institute internship program since the fall of 2019. Her supervisor is CSUCI alum Finn Swann who graduated with a BS in Environmental Science & Resource Management in 2018.

I work with spatial data and digital maps. My responsibilities vary depending on what projects we have, but there is always work to do, such as updating the water district’s databases and creating a detailed map ‘atlas’ for our district,” she says. “Sometimes I create digital maps for certain projects, scan large map or blueprint documents, or I join Finn in the field and we find and collect missing GPS data.”

“The scope of my work can include basic programming and use of architectural software such as AutoCAD, so I received training on these when I first started the internship,” she continues. “This experience has given me a strong technical skillset as well as a sense of professional growth.”

She finds working from home to have its own challenges and offers sage advice for anyone struggling to feel productive and avoid distractions while working remotely.

“It is difficult to work around the distractions that come with working at home. The kitchen is a constant excuse to get up for a quick snack, and my room has all my favorite things that tempt me to distract myself with. To stay on task, I set mini timed goals for myself and I only take a snack break if I meet those goals and I make sure I have a separate work space with a minimal view of the rest of my room.

“Another challenge is that I miss the variety of responsibilities I had before working remotely. Most of my work now is database clean-up, which is not difficult but is repetitive. And because I am not physically at the office, I do not have other projects that keep things interesting. I miss having a workplace culture, and easily being able to ask Finn questions as they come up or have a conversation while we’re on break. Running into my sister in the hallway is my watercooler talk now.”

Set to graduate this May, Saxena feels fortunate to be working at an internship that directly relates to her career goals.

“I enjoy working with GIS software and creating digital maps and I think it’s a very effective and interesting way to analyze and display data. As an environmental science major, I have a passion for the natural world and my overall goal is to be able to use technological solutions for environmental issues and research. Eventually, I would love to lead a GIS team for wildlife conservation or managing natural spaces.”

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