Are you interested in a career in sustainability but have no idea how to start? Maybe you like the idea of working outside every day or want to go into politics to draft environmentally friendly policy. There are an endless number of fields you can explore that incorporate your talents and passion for sustainability. Despite what your distant family member thinks, these jobs can pay well, and yes, you will be doing more than just ‘hugging trees’. In honor of Earth Month, NAU Career has decided to focus on different careers in sustainability and how to begin your journey in sustainability.
Personally, my passion for the planet and eventual career path grew out of my love for animals. I saw the animals suffering from climate change and vowed to do something about the loss of biodiversity. Each step of my college career has solidified my passion and allowed me to determine the career path I wanted to take into environmental policy. I tried several different aspects of sustainability, including working with animals, educating the public, and grassroots organizing, until I decided what my skills could best be used for.
These tips can be used to help you on your path to a career in sustainability:
- Take an Environmental Class at NAU
If you don’t know too much about the environment, but would like to become more knowledgeable, I recommend environmental studies or science courses. The 100 level environmental science classes are easy enough to fit into a busy schedule, but informative enough to not waste your time. In addition to the science classes, environmental Humanities, Communication, or Philosophy classes will push you to think about the social aspect of how humans interact with nature. If you love the material, you can take the next steps to discovering your possible future in sustainability.
- Volunteer for a day
Stop by your local nature center, zoo, or arboretum to get hands on work outside. Volunteering will give insight into if you want to work outside, with animals, and educating people. By volunteering, you are building your resume and identity capital while helping others. What could be better?
- Intern for an environmental organization
There are an endless amount of internships that allow you to work in the environmental field. Try out working as an environmental scientist taking samples in the field or work at a non-profit in their social media, event planning, legislature researching, or administrative departments. Which duties of the internship did you like or find boring? Base your future job search using your past experience.
- Join a club on campus
Do you want to get involved on campus and talk to other students with similar passions to yours? Check out the multiple clubs focused around environmentalism. You can volunteer with the clubs, help organize events for sustainability, brainstorm fundraisers, create education material about the environment, or simply attend meetings to talk with fellow environmentalists.
- Attend an Environmental Talk
A very noncommittal way to learn more about the environment, see the different professions that you can have, and be surrounded by environmental advocates is to attend an environmental talk. There are weekly and almost daily talks at NAU with topics ranging from geology, to climate change, to the ethics of meat eating, to recycling. Be sure to look at the events happening in April for Earth Month!
Read what the leaders of sustainability at NAU have to say about the environment and organizations on campus:
Jessica Lazor, Chair of Green Fund and Graduate Assistant for the Environmental Caucus, on maintaining persistence and optimism through the Green Fund:
While sustainability does need to be somewhat economically feasible, it is also our ethical and moral obligation to leave a healthy planet in our wake. The Green Fund was founded by students in 2010 and since then we have spent a little over $1.1 million dollars on sustainable projects across campus. Over the past 5 years we saw the dedication and the persistence of the students, which showed us that we needed to respond with the same dedication and the same persistence.
Joshua Nobis, Treasurer of Green Fund, on receiving funding for a solar powered plane through the Green Fund:
This project is a testament to the Green Fund’s ability to complete its mission of facilitating innovations in sustainability to benefit not just the NAU campus but also the planet as a whole.
Dana Peters on interning with Green NAU:
It’s really important, especially in the 21st century, to utilize different online outlets for spreading environmental consciousness. Graphic design and social media outreach area really smart way to make sustainability more accessible for the general public, and makes it easier for busy college students to follow along! I got involved with Green NAU my freshman year as an Eco Rep, and have really settled into my current position as the Green NAU Communications Intern!
Caryn Massey on her experience with the Green Fund:
I would not be where I am today with the opportunities the Green Fund. As an NAU undergraduate student and as a graduate student, I have been able to use Green Fund resources by being a committee member and also green fund recipient. I was able to present my research in Washington D.C. because of the Green Fund. I fully support and endorse the Green Fund fee increase. With this funding, more students can have opportunities around the country and gain valuable experience
Remember to check out nau.edu/earthweek to keep up to date on all of the Earth Month festivities and ways to get involved!