A Day in the Life of an MFA Employee
“What is a typical day at Maul Foster & Alongi like?”
We often get this question during interviews. It’s not a bad question, but we often don’t have a good answer because there isn’t a typical day for MFA employees. A day will vary for staff depending on the location, time of year, and position, among other things. To help provide a glimpse into what any given “typical day” might look like, several staff members have provided snapshots of life at MFA from their perspective:
- Staff Geologist
- Staff Engineer
- Health and Safety Specialist
- GIS Technician
Amanda Bixby, Bellingham Office
8:00 AM—Arrive to work. Review e-mails and prepare a to-do list for the day.
8:30 AM—Meet with Phil Wiescher, environmental scientist, to discuss a Joint Permit Application for a dredging project in the Willamette River. Sediment has accumulated beneath a loading dock and will be dredged to restore and maintain vessel access.
9:30 AM—Draft the Joint Permit Application and conduct research for the associated biological evaluation.
11:00 AM—Prepare for upcoming fieldwork at Cascade Pole in Tacoma, WA. Review previous groundwater monitoring reports, check the laboratory bottle order, and take stock of field supplies.
12:00 PM—Get Peruvian sandwiches for lunch with Carolyn Wise, geologist, in downtown Bellingham.
12:30 PM—Work on assorted figure edits in GIS and CAD.
2:30 PM—Run a quality assurance check on data tables produced for the Canyon Creek Basin monitoring report.
4:00 PM—Peer review the Integrated Planning Grant work plan for a former lumber mill on the Stillaguamish River in Stanwood, WA. The City of Stanwood is planning on redeveloping the waterfront property into a public park and boat launch.
5:30 PM—Leave the office for the day.
Garrick Kalmeta, Portland Office
8:30 AM—Arrive at work. I like to spend different days in different offices, but today the workload takes me to the Portland office. I get started by checking e-mails and preparing the days to-do list.
9:00 AM—Prepare draft of a State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) checklist for a multi-phased site development project located in Ridgefield, Washington.
9:30 AM—Attend internal meeting for the site development project in Ridgefield. The meetings’ all-star cast includes Stacy Frost, senior engineer, and Seth Otto, senior planner, along with the Cal Poly alumni dream team that includes myself; Zach Pyle, project engineer; and Tessa Shabram, staff engineer. Today’s agenda is to discuss design progress for phase 2 of the project and review required permit applications.
10:30 AM—After a successful meeting, it’s time to switch gears and get going on a plan set for a remediation project in Portland, but not before stopping by the kitchen to fuel up on delicious snacks…
10:35 AM—Back to the plan set. I quickly discuss tasks with the project engineer, Jacob Faust, before putting together a sitemap and basemap for the project.
12:00 PM—The basemap is looking pretty good, so I decide to take my lunch break. I usually bring my own lunch, but today’s weather is perfect, so I decide to walk over to the local food cart, Sawasdee Thai (shout out to Morgan Josef and Curtis Riley for the great recommendation).
1:00 PM—Back to work on the plan set…still have to complete the sitemap.
3:00 PM—I finish up the sitemap just in time to make my 3’o’clock meeting with senior engineers Cem Gokcora and Erik Bakkom to discuss local permitting requirements for a remediation project in Astoria.
4:00 PM—After the Astoria meeting, I am assigned the task of researching local development permitting requirements based on zoning restrictions for the project. This type of work requires some music, so I put on the head phones and crank up some Taylor Swift.
5:30 PM—The office is beginning to thin out as more of my coworkers head home, so I finish up any remaining tasks on my to-do list and head on out to a local bar to catch up with some friends.
Health and Safety Specialist
Emily Curtis, Portland Office
8:30 AM—Unpack sampling equipment from the lab subcontractor.
9:00 AM—Prepare field forms and sampling equipment for an occupational exposure assessment to be conducted at a roofing manufacturing facility tomorrow.
10:00 AM—Begin drafting a health and safety plan for upcoming fieldwork at a former manufactured gas plant in Oregon.
12:00 PM—Walk to the newly built New Seasons market with environmental scientist April Johnson. We promise not to let each other spend all of our money. Proceed to spend all of my money.
12:45 PM—Prepare appendices for a remedial investigation report for a portion of a former wood-treating facility.
2:15 PM—Prepare safety data sheets consistent with the United Nations Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals for a manufacturer of industrial tire products.
3:15 PM—Organize maintenance manuals for a mechanical integrity spreadsheet as part of a process safety management development project. Check in with environmental scientist Thomas Ashton to see if the client has sent any more manuals our way. Contact client in order to keep the ball rolling.
4:00 PM—Call the lab and UPS to arrange an overnight shipment of samples.
4:15 PM—Check in with Bill Beadie, principal industrial hygienist, about tomorrow’s sampling and other upcoming project work.
4:30 PM—Continue work on the health and safety plan that I started earlier in the day.
5:15 PM—Load up sampling equipment to prep for tomorrow.
5:30 PM—Go for a run around industrial Northwest Portland before commuting home.
Morgan Josef, Portland Office
8:00 AM—Arrive to work. Check and respond to emails while enjoying Stumptown coffee.
8:30 AM—Continue data prep and cleansing for a land trust site in Idaho by combining GPS data, target sample data, and historic data into one clean file.
11:30 AM—Make a few quick edits to health and safety plan figures showing directions from site location to the closest medical facility.
12 PM—Walk over to the delicious Thai food cart for lunch.
1 PM—Assure quality of data and calculations for potentiometric groundwater surface elevation maps and update the previous figures with the new data.
3 PM—Load target sample data onto the GPS unit to be used in the field for sample collection.
3:30 PM —Jump back into data prep for the land trust and have the data ready for quality assurance review the next day.
5:30 PM—Leave for the day.