Sustainability. A word we hear often. I am sure that many of you care about the direction that the world is currently moving towards and want to be part of the solution, not the problem. Many students dream of a more green, action led planet where the effects of climate change are minimised. From sustainable design to policy and law makers, climate science to urban planning, there are an array of careers you can have if you want to work in sustainability. Many companies are looking to create a greener future so it is a growing industry. Below are four tips on how to pursue a career in sustainability even if you feel that your degree is not “relevant”.
1. You don’t need to have a STEM degree
A common misconception is that you need a STEM degree to work in sustainability when this is not the case. Remember that it is the skills you can bring to the table that will set you apart from other individuals. Do you have good analytical and problem solving skills? Are you a creative thinker? These skills are important for any industry, especially in sustainability as you need to come up with solutions to the current issues; it requires a lot of hindsight and thinking “outside the box”. Companies from any sector will need lawyers, designers, accountants etc to help with operations so use the skills from whatever your degree discipline is and apply them.
2. Work experience will make you stand out
If you are able to get some sustainability based work experience outside of your studies, it will boost your employability to future employers. This is particularly important to students who are from non STEM backgrounds as it will show employers that you care about the planet. It can be as simple as volunteering at your local allotment, joining an environmentally led society or doing an internship. Every small action that you do to integrate sustainability into your life is going to look appealing when you apply for roles in this industry. It gives you something to talk about and demonstrate why companies need to think about the long term effects of short term decisions.
3. Broaden your knowledge
It is essential that you know what you’re talking about when wanting a career in sustainability as many people and businesses use greenwashing to appear environmentally conscious. You don’t want to be viewed in this way so it is important that you do your research. You should feel informed enough where you can actively participate in conversations and have insight into what your future employer could do to maintain a sustainable business. A worldly view is better than a national one so bear that in mind when educating yourself on the current shifts and issues.
4. Network, network and more networking!
We all know that networking is a valuable skill so why would it be any different in sustainability? While you are in the process of figuring out the type of role that you want, connect with similar people on LinkedIn. You could message them and ask a few questions in regards to what they job entails and how they got to where they are. It will give you a good opportunity to see what kind of work you need to do to get to where you want to be. People are often willing to give you advice and who knows, they might share their network with you!
Sustainability is not a one size fits all industry so always remember that are numerous ways you can get into the industry. If you would like more information on this, have a look at our sector guide on KEATS which gives the relevant resources when researching career options.