Finding Your Green Job: Sustainability Office Launches Green Careers Program
By Katie Williamson '15
Recently, the Sustainability Office launched the new Big Green Careers program to serve as a resource for students, faculty, and staff. The Class of 1983 generously funded the program, which is a partnership among the Sustainability Office, the Environmental Studies Program, and the Dartmouth Green Alumni Network. Class Officer, Mac Gardner ’83, expressed his enthusiasm for the current program: “We are excited to continue supporting sustainability initiatives as part of our class slogan, ‘Ever Green.’ Working with the Office of Sustainability and the Center for Professional Development has energized our class, and we are all very pleased with progress that the program has made in the last year.” Together, these partners hope this new initiative ensures that students are knowledgeable of the many ways they can continue to make sustainability a part of life beyond college.
One goal for the Big Green Careers program is to expand the knowledge of and access to employment opportunities that exist outside of familiar fields such as business, medicine, and law. Last year, the Sustainability Office piloted a series of career-related events and received hugely positive and encouraging feedback from students. This fall, thanks to the support of the Class of ’83, Sustainability Fellow, Sarah Alexander ’14 was able to work full-time on further developing the program’s resources. Sarah describes the program as versatile in its ability to help a diverse group of users: “This program can cater to a lot of interests, from mainstream to totally alternative.”
Big Green Careers employs a three-pronged approach to help students find sustainability careers and is a rich resource for students looking to expand and diversify their job and internship search:
a) Advising and networking: Students gain access to Sustainability Office and Environmental Studies staff and faculty for regular advising, a green alumni network on LinkedIn with over 200 members, and panel events bringing big-name sustainability alumni to campus.
b) Job Searching: A new, online green careers database allows students and alumni to share past internship and job experiences while also cataloguing over 300 businesses, non-profits, think-thanks, and start-ups currently employing Dartmouth alumni. Additionally, the new Big Green Careers website lists various resources, including vetted green job boards and strategies for starting the job search. The website is continually changing and providing the latest information in the green jobs sector.
c) Skills Development: A three-part workshop series equips students with the skills needed to take full advantage of the career resources that the program offers. Workshops such as “Telling Your Story,” “How To Network,” and “Envisioning Your Future” encourage students to reach out to contacts, be confident about their skills, and explore less conventional post-college experiences. Through these workshops, students develop action plans towards acquiring great jobs that align with their future visions.
The Sustainability Office is thrilled to be moving forward with this program. Since its official 2014-2015 launch four weeks ago, fifty students have enrolled in the program, and that number is expected to grow. Sarah already feels like the resources have had a big impact on students. “We hope to revolutionize the job search and legitimize sustainability in a new way that is super valuable,” she says. Senior Autumn Brunelle ’15 expressed that the new program has already been hugely helpful in her career process: “I was stuck trying to find green jobs on my own and I didn’t really know where to look. I would not have known that so many opportunities existed without the help of the Big Green Careers resources.” Additionally, Sarah was excited to connect with such an incredible network of green alumni leading the way in businesses and organizations ranging from Keurig Coffee, to the Forest Stewardship Council, to the World Bank!
Looking forward, Karen Bieluch, the new Practice-Based Learning Coordinator for the Environmental Studies Program and one of Big Green Careers’ chief supporters and resources, is eager to better facilitate two-way communication between students and organizations in order to ensure the best experience possible for both. She also hopes to increase exposure to a variety of career opportunities and strengthen partnerships with local organizations, particularly when they concern internships. In her new role, Karen further seeks to provide Dartmouth students with productive and unique experiences that match the kind of work they do in their studies: “Independent work, innovation, and challenge are critical features of any of these opportunities.”
Both Sarah and Karen are excited to see this program continue as a long-term component in students’ career searches while at Dartmouth and beyond. “This program is an ongoing process to help students rework their resumes and applications for future positions,” says Karen. “We ultimately want to give students the confidence and resources to follow their passions.” Matt Stanton ’15 agreed that the workshops in particular eased his anxiety about career opportunities. “One workshop walked me through how to analyze a job description, and distill the key needs of the hiring organizations. This is crucial when you're trying to figure out how you can cater yourself to their needs.” Erin Becks ‘15 comments on the success of the program, saying, “Now that the green careers website has been launched, there’s a whole new portal of opportunities that are easily accessible, and a network of people we can reach out to about directions to take. I cannot wait to see the network grow deeper and wider.” Big Green Careers shows the potential to direct sustainability student leaders into roles where they can not only be engaged in their work, but also effect real change in the world.