Graduate student in the spotlight: Career Peer Erik Martinez

by Lana Smith-Hale, Graduate Career Counselor
Tuesday, October 18, 2016 1:03 PM

Erik Martinez. Photo courtesy of Erik MartinezErik Martinez is a second-year student at the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management and has also recently been hired as the Graduate Division's new Graduate Career Peer

Erik received his bachelor's degree in Environmental Science from the University of ​Texas - Pan American. ​He will graduate ​next June with ​his master's degree from the Bren School, specializing on Conservation Planning. ​Learn more about his background below.

Where did you grow up? Tell us a little about your ​upbringing and childhood.

I was born in Mission, Texas, but spent most of my early years in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, living with my aunt. Once I was old enough to go to school, I began to live on both sides of the border, staying in the U.S. during school days and Mexico on off days. I have three other siblings – one older brother, one younger brother, and a younger sister.

What has graduate student life been like for you?

The graduate student life has definitely been challenging, but the friendships and connections I’ve made so far have made it worth it. I definitely stay very busy, but I just take one day at a time.

What do you like most about grad school and what do you like least?

My favorite part of grad school is interacting with my classmates and working together with them on projects. My least favorite part is not being done with work at 5 in the afternoon.

Erik next to a piping plover nest during field surveys at Crane Beach in Ipswich, MA. Photo courtesy of Erik MartinezTell us a little about your research and how you came to choose the topic.

My research focuses on the desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizzii) found in the western Mojave Desert. My group and I are collaborating with the Desert Tortoise Council to create a restoration plan that will help increase desert tortoise habitats in the hopes of helping the species increase its population. I chose this topic because I wanted to work with a species and learn more about the efforts made by scientists to help protect a particular species.

What has been a source of motivation or drive for you in your graduate studies?

My main source of motivation has been my family. I’m a first-generation student, so finishing the Bren program would help pave a brighter future for my family.

What are some of your hobbies?

Most of my hobbies involve outdoor activities such as volleyball, stand-up paddling, slack lining, hiking, biking and kayaking. I also enjoy reading a book from time to time and a nice day on the beach.

Explain what you do in your role as Career Peer Advisor. 

As a Career Peer Advisor, I provide workshops, presentations, and one-on-one meetings with graduate students to review their resumes, cover letters, and CVs to help them prepare for the career of their choice.

What are your goals as Career Peer Advisor?

My goals are to help students achieve their goals and learn more about the skills they possess that will make them an exceptional candidate for the career they choose.

Do you have any advice for current grad students?

My advice would be to network, network, and network! Building relationships with your classmates and other peers can help open many doors in the future. The connections you make in grad school (or anywhere for that matter) can last a lifetime.

'Brennies' on Santa Cruz Island. From left, Erin O'Reilly, Charlie Diamond, Erik Martinez and Emily Read. Photo courtesy of Erik Martinez