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Students at USGS: Ashley Liddiard Helps Support Science and Policy for the Public
Released: 11/1/2012 8:43:53 AM

Contact Information:
U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
Office of Communications and Publishing
12201 Sunrise Valley Dr, MS 119
Reston, VA 20192
Jennifer LaVista 1-click interview
Phone: 303-202-4764



Hello, my name is Ashley Liddiard and I currently work at the USGS as an administrative operations assistant. I recently graduated from Regis University with a B.A. in Politics and a B.A. in Music. I am working full-time at the USGS while also working towards a bookkeeping clerk certificate at Red Rocks Community College.

I am enjoying the transition from full-time student to full-time employee. Even though I am not taking many classes right now, that does not mean that I have stopped learning. I am constantly researching USGS policy. I am really enjoying the opportunity to learn hands-on as an employee.

Introduction to the USGS

I started working for the Crustal Imaging and Characterization Team in February 2011. At that time, one of my former classmates at Regis had been converted from the Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP) to the Student Career Experience Program (SCEP), and the team was looking to fill the vacancy with another STEP employee. I was very excited to apply, and even more excited when I received my STEP position. Since then, I have been converted to a SCEP employee, and am hoping to work for the team for at least several more years.

Every Day is Different

As I am sure many other students can testify, my days rarely are the same. I am constantly being provided with special projects to help me learn, fulfill a need, and expand my skill set. However, I will try my best to describe what I do on most days.

The first task I complete in the morning is reviewing our credit card account. I check to see how much is currently in the account, and then I pull a report to see the charges that are currently waiting to be reallocated. Then I reallocate those expenses to the correct account. Generally, I process travel authorizations and vouchers next. Since these tasks almost always take up my morning, I work on special assignments, filing, reconciling credit card statements, and entering purchase requisitions in the afternoon. 

USGS Administrative Operations Assistant, Ashley Spinelli at her desk on a typical Monday morning.
USGS Administrative Operations Assistant, Ashley Spinelli at her desk on a typical Monday morning. (High resolution image)

My Work is Rewarding

My most memorable experience thus far was the time I was able to tour our labs with the administrative team. One of our lead scientists had asked us if we would like to see what the scientists in our center do, and we of course said we would. I was relatively new to the team at this time, so I was thrilled to take a tour. Touring the labs not only helped me understand the type of science our center does, but our guide helped us understand the ways in which the administrative team supports what the scientists do. I was able to witness the real-world application for my job, and I found that to be extremely rewarding.

I believe that the most valuable part of my work is providing support. In administration, it is important that we support our scientists as well as the mission of the USGS. The projects that our team takes on directly impact lives around the world. I know that they may not receive much recognition among the general public, but their science does benefit the public good. This is why I find it so important to help them through what I do.

Future Plans 

I would like to remain at the USGS for several more years as I save up to become a teacher. While I am enjoying administration, I would like to take my desire to support others to the next level. Until then, I would like to remain at the USGS and strengthen my capabilities in helping others professionally. 

Learn, Discover and Grow

The USGS is a good place for students to work because you encounter so many types of people who do different things. I cannot think of many places where you can ask questions about science and learn about public policy all while expanding your skills. I feel that the intersection between government, science, and the general populace makes this an extremely interesting place to work. In this environment, you can constantly learn, discover and grow 

More than Just Maps

Ashley Spinelli and her husband Bryan hike the continental divide.
Ashley Spinelli and her husband Bryan hike the continental divide. (High resolution image)

When people ask me where I work, the response is almost always, “Oh, so you must help make the maps.” I respond, yes, the USGS does make maps, but that is not all we do. The USGS is involved in so much more than just publishing maps. For example, we provide research for issues of public safety, study natural hazards, and assist other government agencies. All of these areas of research directly impact how the United States Government interacts with its citizens on a daily basis, and I feel that the more people know about what we do, the more excited they will be science issues.

For more information about student employment, or to learn more about jobs at the USGS, visit our Jobs at the USGS website.   


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