Career Advice from Bilal

By: Kelly Siegel

Many of my fellow classmates will be graduating this Spring. Although I still have another year to go, career advice is always welcomed.  I learned so much from Amy and Marta that I decided to continue my EPA employee interviews.  This time I sat down with Bilal Qazzaz to learn more about what he does at the EPA!

What is your position at the EPA?

I am the Quality Assurance Coordinator for Air Monitoring in the Air and Radiation Division.  In essence, I provide guidance and oversight to our state, local, and tribal agencies to ensure that data generation activities, such as field monitoring, comply with EPA quality standards.

What is a typical day like for you?

One of the great things about working for the EPA is there are no typical days.  In given week I can be reviewing a Quality Assurance Project Plan one day, performing a flow audit on our continuous metals monitor the next, planning for a field monitoring campaign, or providing guidance to our region on quality assurance matters.

What is the best part of your job?

Simply put…the people I work with.  Every day I learn something new and come away better prepared to do my job.  I’ve been with EPA for just over a year and I’ve learned an incredible amount from those around me.

Did you always have an interest in the environment?

Well, when I grew up, my friends and I were always outdoors looking for snakes and spiders.  It was great, back then there were still a lot of prairies where a kid could get lost all day and find all sorts of neat stuff.  So yes, I suppose I have but perhaps I didn’t know it.

What classes did you take in school that you use on the job today?

Certainly all the math and science courses help me in my present position.   Though I do find myself most often recalling material from my chemistry and ecology classes.

Do you have any advice for kids today who have an interest in protecting our environment?

I would say look around your immediate surroundings–home, school, or local park — see what needs to be done or can be improved upon.  Then take the initiative; don’t wait for others to act to protect our natural resources.  Be clear on how your environmental project would benefit your audience, and especially with adults, tying in potential economic benefits is sure to win them over!

Kelly Siegel is a student volunteer in the EPA’s Air and Radiation Division in Region 5, and is currently obtaining her Master’s degree in Urban Planning and Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago.  She has a passion for sustainable development, running, and traveling with friends.

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