Sustainability jobs expert Trish Kenlon asked jobseeker Maya Johnson five key questions to help her narrow down her career choices. Try them! And visit Land a Green Job 101, where we’ve listed tons of planet-saving resources for job hunters, from job listings to expert advice to communities you can join.
1. Which climate-change issue are you passionate about?
There are so many issues, it’s hard to know where to start. Whether it’s a field trip to a dump, growing up with toxic air pollution, or watching sea levels rise, consider the issues you feel deeply about. (Not sure? What are you curious about? What worries you? These are clues.)
2. What kind of day-to-day work do you prefer?
Which skills do you enjoy using? Do you like sitting at a desk, working alone or with others?
- Do you love talking with people? Try advocacy and community organizing.
- Do you like research and writing? Consider environmental policy and grant writing.
- Love data? You could be well suited to field research or lab work.
- Gravitate to social media? Investigate marketing and advertising roles in nonprofits, foundations, or sustainable companies.
3. What kind of organization do you want to work for?
Sustainability careers are now across industries and sectors. You could organize neighbors to grow a community garden; engineer fuel-efficient aircraft or write environmental policy—the list goes on.
- Government work: You can work for local, state-level or federal departments. Starting at your mayor's office or parks department is a great way into a public-sector career. For a sense of how innovative public sector work can be, listen to Yesh’s interview with Orlando Sustainability Director Chris Castro. He’s working to make his city the greenest in America.
- Nonprofit: You can work for local land conservation organizations, statewide clean energy groups, nationwide or global nonprofits influencing sustainability practices on a larger scale. See our Green Jobs Hub for more ideas and links to sustainability job listings.
- For-profit: Companies need specialists who can help them implement triple-bottom-line policies and practices. It will take new leadership to expand organic farming, bring circularity to fashion and tech companies, and advance renewable energy use.
4. Where do you want to live?
- For federal policy work, D.C. is probably your best bet. Many large nonprofits also influence federal and state policy; headquarters are in many major cities. Of course, working remotely is more and more common.
- State and county-level environmental agencies are located in cities of every size in all 50 states.
- You’d rather live quietly? Consider field work, research and conservation, which tend to take you out into nature and more rural areas.
5. Which resources do you already have?
Organizations where you have worked or volunteered:
- What did you like about the work? Dislike?
- Did you enjoy the people and work environment?
Friends, classmates and former colleagues:
- Where are they now? Can they connect you with people in organizations where you want to work? Follow them on LinkedIn.
- When applying for jobs, these connections are key to getting out of the resume pile and landing an interview.
Relevant news sources:
- Start your day with news sources that cover climate change, such as E&E, Reuters, Politico and Bloomberg. (For more, see our Green Jobs Hub.)
- By staying current, you’ll be more confident when networking and interviewing for jobs. You’ll also learn about new-to-you organizations you may want to work for.
Plan your job search strategy with job coach Trish Kenlon:
Network with jobseeker Maya Johnson:
For links to the many policy and advocacy organizations mentioned in this episode, see our Green Jobs Hub.