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A Q&A with Gator Career Consultant Tarolyn Plumley

Tarolyn Plumley graduated from the University of Florida in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in entomology from the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. Now, as a Gator Career Consultant at the Career Connections Center, she helps current students find their paths.

More than 230 alumni have joined the consultant program since its launch just over a year ago. The alumni give students an inside look at how they landed their current jobs


through workshops, one-on-one consultations, social media takeovers and more.

Curious? Read on for a Q&A with Plumley – a public education specialist for the Citrus County Mosquito Control District – where she explains what drew her to the program and her experiences so far.

A person in a stream

Tarolyn Plumley earned her bachelor’s degree from UF in 2020. Above, she uses a net to scoop mosquito larvae from the water. Photo courtesy of Tarolyn Plumley

What does a normal day at work look like for you?

My days are always different. Sometimes I’m in the office working on presentations for the public, other times I’m out in the field setting up mosquito traps. The variety is what I love most about my job! I can be teaching at a summer camp of elementary students one day and be in a swamp looking for mosquito larvae the next day.

My official title is “public education specialist,” which basically means I’m responsible for public outreach. It’s my job to teach my community about mosquitoes and how they can protect themselves from them. So, I go to schools, summer camps, trade shows and libraries, and I do Zoom webinars. I also run the district’s social media pages.

Since I have my entomology degree, I also help in surveillance to identify mosquitoes, set up traps, retrieve trap collections, perform door-to-door inspections and more.

Why did you decide to be a career consultant?

I decided to be a career consultant because I loved using the resources at the Career Connections Center when I was a student! Once I found my career, I wanted to share my story with others and give students who might be having a hard time some encouragement.

I thought I could offer a unique perspective being a transfer student, graduating during the COVID-19 pandemic and being a first-generation college graduate. I work in mosquito control, too, which is a niche field that students might not get exposed to often.

So far, I’ve given a presentation about my job in mosquito control, taken over the Career Connections Center Instagram page for a day, helped students with their LinkedIn pages, and sat on a virtual panel about how to stand out to employers.

What has been your favorite moment so far?

My favorite moment so far is when I gave a presentation about my job last summer. There was one student who was so engaged and asked so many questions. I could tell he was really interested in the field.

I may have opened the door for him to explore mosquito control as a career option. What if I helped someone find their calling? That was really rewarding!

What are some of the insights you’ve gotten into your professional life through your work with current students?

Working with current students, and other career consultants, has taught me that you never stop growing as a professional. Once you find a career, you think, “Wow, I’ve made it!” That’s only the beginning, though.

Every time I use a new technology, I learn new ways to connect with others. When I gave advice about LinkedIn, I learned what I could do to make my page stand out more. I learn about other fields from other consultants and how I can be a better advocate in mine. Never stop learning even when you’re out of school and in your dream career!

What would your advice be for an alum who’s considering applying but isn’t sure if it’s right for them?

I would say just go for it! You don’t have to be perfect. Even if just one person learns something from you or your experience, it’s worth it! No one has the same path. You don’t know how that one little piece of advice that only you can offer could inspire someone.

Learn more about the Career Connections Center.

Sign up to be a Gator Career Consultant.

Learn more about career consulting at UF.

Source: Tarolyn Plumley