Bronco Spotlight: Stephen Nehring

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Bachelor of Science in geography with an emphasis on environmental analysis and resource management, 2017

Current Job Title:

Wastewater Specialist

Current Employer:

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Describe your current job:

I help people apply for wastewater discharge permits. I also assist people who have a wastewater discharge permit to enter discharge data into the Wisconsin effluent database. This keeps Wisconsin in compliance with the federal Clean Water Act. 

What is the most rewarding and the most challenging about your job?

The most challenging part of my job is finding out where the wastewater operators are stuck in the permitting and reporting process.  The most rewarding part of my position is helping those wastewater operators to work through their issues, so that they can enter their data in correctly and can be in compliance with the Clean Water Act. 

What experiences have prepared you for your career? 

My time spent in the service industry prepared me to communicate effectively with the public.  My classes at Western, particularly in the Geography Department, gave me an understanding of environmental policy.  My professors, particularly Dr. Greg Veeck, helped me to develop professional discipline to perform in an office environment that requires a high level of precision in high stress situations. 

What advice do you have for students looking for their career after college?

The biggest piece of advice that I can give to current students is to not be afraid to take risks.  I was a non-traditional student who failed out of college on my first attempt.  After leaving school I spent five years in sales.  This time in the service industry gave me skills that I would have never learned in a classroom and gave me time to figure out what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.  Leaving school was the best thing that I could have done at that point in my life.  Once I was ready to return, I was able to give school the respect and attention that I needed to succeed.  I would strongly encourage current students to trust themselves and the people who support them.  I would also like to remind current students that school is only one path through life, do not be afraid to explore other options if you feel like things are not going the way that you are content with.

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