NAME: Anggita Agustin
CURRENT TITLE: Hydrogeologist
AREA OF EXPERTISE: Environmental Hydrogeologist (Contaminated Site Management)
YEARS OF EXPERIENCE: 5 years
TWITTER NAME: impipsqueak
What’s your job like?
Challenging! First of all, it’s nice being outdoors and exploring. Ultimately, I love how groundwater works. Little did I know, I would be working for an environmental consulting company in Jakarta and would have to deal with contaminated sites across Indonesia. I was overwhelmed at first. The projects I am involved in are always changing and new. I have to learn new skills and practice enhancing my experience in this job. I love doing soil and groundwater remediation projects here. Colleagues mentored me about technical challenges when designing an effective remediation approach. Complicating conditions or complex geology which control contaminant migration make it inherently difficult in the remediation process. There is one project that interests me the most—dealing with non-aqueous phase liquids (NAPLs). It was a completely new experience for me. So, restoring soil and groundwater that have been contaminated with NAPLs to their original state cannot be achieved in a short amount of time, it will take years or maybe decades. During the process, continuity must be maintained.
As part of my job, I also have to describe the process of contaminant migration through media to the receptors, such as conceptual site models (CSM), which is very crucial before the remediation process. The objective of CSM is to get a better understanding of the site and surroundings, so I can assess the risks and develop appropriate remediation strategies. Hopefully, I will continue to improve my skills in soil and groundwater remediation, and I hope that someday I will be able to discover new ground-breaking methods of cleanups.
What’s a typical day like?
Before I had a baby, I was barely at the office. I was always on site. Sometimes I did drilling, groundwater sampling or maintaining remediation systems. When I do drilling, I have to supervise the driller and design the monitoring well. My day is mostly exhausting yet joyful. I enjoy being on site so much. Being on site also gives me time to get to know the clients and hangout with the subcontractors. For an office day, I usually spend my time writing reports and managing data sets or lab results. I also enjoy drawing CSM figures or geological cross sections when I am off site.
What an adventurous job. It’s a privilege that I am able to travel across Indonesia. I am able to meet new people and constantly move from one site to another. I also love to communicate with other hydrogeologists from other offices across Asia Pacific. We usually catch up and share our work during technical meetings once a month. So it’s nice that I am constantly learning. I also get a satisfying feeling when I contribute to helping nature and protecting people from harmful things. Working for an environmental consulting company has given me a new perspective on life. It has slowly made me care about sustainability and the environment. My job is not only about how to find or use groundwater but also to protect and restore it.
It’s, though, an exhausting job. It is challenging physically and mentally, especially as I am the only woman on my team. Perhaps the biggest challenge is to be physically fit and strong when working in this field. Being on site for too long and away from home maybe difficult, however it will reward me with a bunch of new skill sets. Since I had a son few months ago, it is still difficult for me to go on site. I am still juggling my work life and my new born baby. Fortunately, my colleagues and my boss are very supportive and I am so grateful for that.
What’s your advice to students?
Groundwater is the new gold. Please don’t hesitate to learn about groundwater and the environment. It’s not boring at all. I found my life through it and I think it will be handy in the future. In general, take risks, try new things and see your mistakes as learning opportunities. When you find your interest, get experience, allow yourself to be curious and let’s see if you love it.