Mosaic / May 1, 2019

Alumnus pursues interests while using degree skills

William Gallmeyer ‘09 poses alongside his independent study project: the “earth oven.’” Gallmeyer majored in ANSO and now owns his own company that specializes in LED lighting supplies. (Photo courtesy of William Gallmeyer)

Knox graduate William Gallmeyer ‘09 spent a portion of his senior year at Green Oaks where he participated in an independent study, putting together the “earth oven,” an exploration of natural materials and energy efficiency. This wouldn’t be his last foray into the subject.

“Being able to delve into that, for school credits, at Knox was one of my favorite college experiences,” Gallmeyer said.

Gallmeyer is one of many students who earned his degree and then found employment later on in jobs that, to most, would appear unrelated. He did this on purpose, choosing to use his education in a broader sense. As a major in Anthropology and Sociology, he was more interested in the human aspects of his degree and the broader understanding of people than the advanced degree he would need to pursue a career as a professional anthropologist.

After working in a variety of construction-based enterprises, both during and after earning his degree, Gallmeyer decided to pursue a career in construction and LED energy usage.

“I’d probably need an advanced degree to work as a sociologist, and I get a lot of satisfaction out of being non-specialized,” Gallmeyer said.

Gallmeyer found most of the experience he needed on the job instead of in the classroom. That included working construction with Habitat for Humanity, residential remodeling, residential energy auditing, a couple years working for utility rebate programs and about a year working in sales for an LED lighting supplier. In sales, working directly with clients, is where he found his degree aided him most. Having spent four years studying people and society, he found his academic understanding of people socialization made it easier to work and relate with people.

“Those experiences have shaped my career much more than my college major. But I think ANSO is a very good baseline for any number of different careers,” Gallmeyer said.

Gallmeyer is currently self-employed in his own company Green Projects Groups, an organization focused on LED lighting supply with an emphasis on maximizing utilities companies’ rebates. His role in the company, working with clients on a day to day basis, is where he finds his degree to be the most useful.

“A lot of what I do is sales and I feel like my degree in ANSO has helped me in a roundabout way by [teaching] me to understand people and the social systems we navigate,” Gallmeyer said.

This is the strategy Gallmeyer has used in job interviews for years: considering the different, indirect ways that all of his experiences could lend themselves to what he was interested in pursuing at that moment. This mindset was able to turn his experience working as a camp counselor during the summer into examples of organizational and interpersonal skills that he was able to show to companies.

“I’ve always had great success in job interviews by just picking an experience/credential that seems somewhat close to the job I want, and expressing why I want to explore that more,” Gallmeyer said.

Gallmeyer also continued studying after graduating, using an education grant he was awarded by AmeriCorps to study the more technical sides of business at a local community college. There he took extra classes to hone the necessary skills he didn’t have time to pursue at Knox, to help further his career in sales and as a company owner. Though he appreciates his education in ANSO, much of his experience in his twenties were opportunities he found outside of the classroom that sparked his interests and caused him to pursue them further. He would encourage other students to try and do the same.

“It might have been nice to have taken those classes at Knox, but you can’t take every single interesting or useful class,” Gallmeyer said. “I think the theme is that the learning never stops, formal or otherwise.”

Jessica Beckman

Tags:  alumnus anthropology construction Green Oaks Knox College graduate self-employed sociology

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