The People of Santee Cooper
Do you ever wonder about what it takes to make the lights turn on? For over 2 million people in South Carolina, Santee Cooper is the powering source behind those lights. We have more than 1,600 employees who work together statewide to make sure you have reliable electricity and clean drinking water. Not all our employees are engineers, line technicians or work at a generation station. An instrumental part of Santee Cooper’s daily operation is protecting the environment and managing lakes Marion and Moultrie.
Meet Carl Bussells, an environmental specialist at Santee Cooper. Carl’s primary responsibilities include collecting water-quality samples in the lakes, tracking invasive aquatic plants and managing aquatic vegetation.
Q: What led you to your current career?
A: I’ve always been fascinated by freshwater ecosystems. When the time came to apply for a job after college, I was fortunate enough to get hired by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) and spent just under seven years there working with dedicated experts in freshwater fisheries and lake management. When my current position opened up at Santee Cooper, my hopes were high and I’m fortunate to have landed in a career where I’m passionate about my work, proud of what I do and enjoy it every day.
Q: What type of education, training, technical knowledge or experience is necessary for this kind of work?
A: A Bachelor of Science in environmental science, biology or wildlife and fisheries is necessary, and a master’s degree is recommended. Don’t skimp on the internships. I wouldn’t be in the position I am today if I hadn’t taken an internship with an environmental consultant company when I was a junior at the College of Charleston.
Q: What type of interests, abilities and skill would help a person to be successful in your occupation?
A: Without a doubt, you have to embrace working in the elements, whether it’s freezing rain or a heat index of 105. Attention to detail, experience with field and lab instruments, the ability to trailer and operate boats, and the ability to review and analyze data are imperative.
Q: What advice would you give a student interested in this career?
A: Don’t hesitate to pester professionals in the career you’re interested in. Annoy them until they let you shadow, take you out for a day, let you volunteer your help or point you toward an internship. Also, this is a big one: Character goes a long way. Be honest, be respectful and work hard. It will take you a long way.
Q: What part-time jobs, internships or extracurricular activities would best prepare you for this occupation?
A: Santee Cooper offers a great variety of internships. Also, actively ask for volunteer work, hourly, or summer positions with agencies and companies such as SCDNR, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the South Carolina Aquarium, environmental consultant companies, the Nature Conservancy, and U.S. Forest Service. Don’t pass up on opportunities to network such at local environmental fairs and events, litter pickups, etc.
Explore the wide variety of rewarding career opportunities Santee Cooper has to offer at www.santeecooper.com/careers.