Making it Real: Post-degree Options & Advice
How do you want to become a positive agent of change in your community? Below you will find a list of resources to begin your exploration into the numerous opportunities available to students who graduate with a degree in Sustainable Development. The truth is, people who have a background in sustainability and the ability to think critically, solve problems creatively, work collaboratively, and direct their energies toward social justice and community well-being are needed in all sectors of society.
Begin here, but understand that this list is not exhaustive. Some of the things you might want to do don't yet have a title or fit into a neat slot. Some haven't been created! As you consider your work in the field of sustainability, you will want to explore widely and imagine the possibilities that each position might offer you to do the work you want to do.
Post Degree Resource Categories (also listed in left hand column)
Utilize App State's Career Development Center & Career Exploration Office
Go to them for advice; take advantage of the incredible range of services they provide; think of them as really valuable consultants who will help you prepare for your next professional step. Once you're out of college, these types of services will be worth big bucks, so take advantage of it while you can! (They provide services for alums, too!) They cover all of the basics: how to strengthen your resume, prepare for an interview, search and apply for jobs, and much more. Explore the Appalachian Career Development Center website.
Also be sure to check out the resources found at the Career Exploration Office website.
Find an Internship or Volunteer with an Organization
Landing a job straight out of college is often a lot easier if you've had prior experience. Internships are often a great way to get a feel for the work you think you want to do, make connections with people, gain skills, and deepen your understanding. Watch the SD listserv for internship announcements, seek out help through Career Services, find out what other SD students have done, and don't be afraid to make your own connections. More information on the internship process can be found here.
Go right to the source
While we've listed websites with job postings, don't forget that it's also useful to go right to the source itself. For example, if you're interested in being a university sustainability officer, go directly to university websites (e.g., http://hr.harvard.edu/jobs/) to find jobs related to your area of interest at a specific university. Do the same for companies, nonprofits, consulting firms, etc., as organizations don't always post their jobs widely.
There's truth to the saying... "It's not what you know, but who you know". Take advantage of any and all networking opportunities available including: Green Drinks Boone, Clubs & Extracurricular Involvements, other campus organizations, and be sure to introduce yourself and meet folks at sustainability related events.
Don't See It Listed? Contact Them!
Just because you don't see a job listed doesn't mean it's not out there or that it's not needed. Reach out to staff at the department or organization that interests you, let them know of your interests and abilities, help them to see that they need someone like you who can do great things for their organization.
Consider consulting – there are and will continue to be many organizations who will need help addressing a vast array of issues related to sustainability over the next couple of decades. If you're willing to handle the necessary responsibilities of being self-employed (i.e. marketing your services, growing your business, self-reporting taxes, etc.), you'll allow yourself the opportunity to practice the work you love by helping businesses and/or organizations that interest you. Be sure to take advantage of the services offered at Appalachian's Transportation Insight Center for Entrepreneurship and consider partnering with other similar "eco-consulting" organizations (ie, www.eco-coach.com) so that you best prepare yourself.
In this article by Nora Beane, you will find some useful general information about pursuing a career in sustainability. Although Beane uses the term "Environmental Studies", she addresses a wide variety opportunities related to Sustainable Development majors.
Sustainable agriculture jobs after college? Great article by John Gerber, academic adviser for University of Massachusetts Sustainable Food and Farming Program, describing the difference between "getting a job" and creating good work. Reading this will force you to ask yourself, "how do I want to live?" A must read.