Is a career journey a path or a maze?
For many college students, their career journey is a straight line. They choose a major based on their field of interest, and every internship, engagement opportunity, or experience leads them to a job in that desired field. However, this was not the case for Erica Gebbia ’20. Her career path took twists and turns in ways she could have never imagined.
Gebbia graduated from Bloomsburg University amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, as a dual major in anthropology and environmental, geographical, and geological sciences. The pandemic altered her plans, leading her to work remote for a local housing authority in Salt Lake City, Utah called Housing Connect. Housing Connect is responsible for finding affordable homes for low-income families in their area. Serving as a public relations and fundraising VISTA for Americorps is not what Gebbia had in mind after graduation because her previous experiences at BU were taking her in a different direction.
While at BU, Gebbia took advantage of all the opportunities that the university has to offer, allowing her to participate in internships, civic engagement, and research to gain experience in her field of interest.
Her internship was with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), where she created workshops and presentations to engage in community outreach programs.
“Interning with the DEP afforded me valuable knowledge and experience with community development,” Gebbia said. She learned so much from this experience, but what stuck out the most to her was that “engaging with the public is an important, necessary component to ensure the success of any organization as it helps create a sense of shared responsibility and civic duty.”
After this internship opportunity, Gebbia did not stop there. Working with the PA DEP, Gebbia felt inspired to participate in a cross-country cycling ride called Bike and Build, to raise money and awareness for the affordable housing cause.
“I continued to further my experience with community development…which was monumental in bringing my college coursework to life.” Gebbia said, as she engaged in this race. Bike and Build is where Gebbia learned about Americor. “I thought it would be a good segue, given the times, to gain professional experience.”
The Bike and Build trip allowed her to take on a new role, one in the communications field. Gebbia’s previous volunteer work benefits her today because she is the current public relations and fundraising VISTA for Housing Connect. This opportunity led her to conduct an ethnographic research study, where she took part in observations, interviews, and surveys. “I studied how individuals conceptualize various geographical locations,” Gebbia said.
Gebbia was able to take part in two work studies during her last year at BU. She was a peer mentor and a mass lecture assistant for Fazzino’s World Problems course. These job opportunities were important to her.
“As a senior, these positions were valuable to me as I was able to help students engage with a subject that I am passionate about,” she said.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Gebbia’s second internship opportunity ended up being remote. She was supposed to go to the Island of Kosrae to conduct research.
This whole journey navigating different opportunities has wildly changed Gebbia’s career path. Although it was not what Gebbia expected, she is content with her current position now, as it allows her to hike every day after work and travel around Utah in her free time.
“I am grateful for my time spent at Bloomsburg University and do not think I would be where I am today without the support and guidance of the anthropology department,” Gebbia said.
Gebbia has no set plan for the future. “I’d like to stay in the realm of community development and social justice to work with people in person, and eventually get back to doing things with food security.”