Economics alumna Alaska-bound after accepting position with North Pacific Fisheries Management Council

Sarah Marrinan ’09 and her proactive approach to learning in and out of the classroom while a student at Lake Forest College prepared her for graduate school and her new position as a fisheries economist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

A year and a half after graduating from Lake Forest College, Sarah Marrinan ’09 decided her career goals in economics required a master’s degree. So, she decided to go to graduate school.

She contacted several of her professors asking for letters of recommendation; she knew they would remember her.

With the help of letters from Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Economics and Business Rob Lemke, A. B. Dick Professor of Economics Robert Baade, Volwiler Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science Edward Packel, and Associate Professor and Chair of Communication David Park she was accepted into the University of Maine’s Resource Economics and Policy graduate program and offered a research fellowship.

And so began Marrinan’s path that, starting September 16, continues as a Fisheries Economist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) North Pacific Fisheries Management Council in Anchorage, Alaska. There, she will be developing and presenting reports on policy and economic work for stakeholders of the fisheries industry.

“I discovered this position when I was in grad school. Despite not having a lot of experience with fisheries specifically, I was really excited by the prospect. I’ve spent a couple of summers in Alaska and had developed an interest in this resource market,” said Marrinan, who graduated from UMaine in the summer of 2012. “It aligned my professional interest of resource economics with my personal interest in fisheries.”

Marrinan said her experience at Lake Forest College as an economics and communication double major prepared her for graduate school course work.

“Economists aren’t well known for their writing skills. Comm courses at Lake Forest gave me the advantage in this department and really balanced out my skillset,” she said.

In addition to gaining fundamental writing and critical thinking skills, she appreciated working with “great professors who, when I called them a year and a half out of college, they still remembered me and wrote recommendations.”

In mid-July, she emailed some of her professors to thank them for their support and inform them about her new position.

“I wanted to make sure they knew how helpful their references were and indirectly will continue to be,” she said. “My economics and math professors triggered my passion for economic theory. They should know how far their networks extend, and I know that Lemke in particular likes to keep track of his past students. Even though Lake Forest is a small college, we have an impressive network of alumni.” 

In her email, she also offered to talk to undergraduate Foresters with similar career ambitions, particularly those interested in the Washington, D.C. area. That is where Marrinan has been completing a research fellowship at the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) National Center for Environmental Economics since earning her master’s degree. Her last day was September 6.

She advises current Lake Forest College students to use their time as an undergraduate  to understand their interests, not to undersell their strengths, and to be proactive. 

“Because Lake Forest College is a small environment, if you want to have campus events, you have to set them up. And if you want people to come to your events, you have to go out and recruit them. That ability to be proactive is a skill that Lake Forest students develop, and it becomes a huge asset,” she said. “Searching for a job is tough. You have to be proactive.”