Get a Green JobPosted by solitaire in blog November 22, 2011
Every week creative and committed people ask me how to ‘get into’ sustainability. With questions about the ethics of interning and full-time jobs sparse on the ground, should you sit on your hands and wait for the employment knight in shining sustainability armour? Or is there something you can do?
Here’s a few ideas to keep you going…
1) The Sideways Sustainability Slide
If you’ve already got a job then you’re already working in sustainability. Seek out and join the companies csr/eco champions scheme, sign up for volunteering programs, offer to be an ‘energy monitor’ in your dept/factory/office, read the intranet pages on sustainability and feedback on them. Stalk the Head of CSR/Sustainability for mentoring. Get in there!
2) The Private Provocation
Got a job in a small business, bar job or large business with no ‘official’ CSR/sustainability programme? Brilliant – start one. Organise a ‘lunch and learn’, set up a basic intranet page, create a eco-champions scheme, do green audit, start a diversity group. The options are endless with a blank sheet.
3) The DIY
Go entrepreneurial (that’s what I did), find a niche and try to fill it. Starting up your own business isn’t easy. Expect to live on nothing to pay others, have sleepless nights worrying about cashflow on the nights when you’re not working till 3am. But it’s totally possible to make it work. But only if you start – waiting for the ‘perfect moment’ or ‘enough funding’ means sustainability has to kick its heels waiting for you. Sell everything you have on eBay and just do it.
4) It’s Not What You Know…
Network network network. Attend free lectures on sustainability, join every online group and jump into the debates, go to Green Drinks and conferences if you can afford it. Have the guts to go up and speak to people. Think of something interesting to say, and listen when people say something interesting. Join.
5) Any Means Necessary
This is the hard one because basically this means ‘work for free’. This isn’t for everyone all the time – but even if you have a full time job or are full time job hunting find some time to volunteer, offer to proof-read for people you respect, intern, work weekends and evenings if need be. I did, and it worked.
6) Talk Therapy
Blog, tweet and write. Opinionated about sustainability? Great – put your keyboard where your mouth is. Be heard.
7) Make Some Noise
One of the most important jobs in sustainability doesn’t come with a job title. It’s the job of bearing witness. Join a campaign, write a letter to a CEO or MP. Turn up and be counted. Rally and protest. It’s incredibly important to roll up your sleeves and spend your working hours fixing problems, but someone needs to point out the problem in the first place.
8) Practice Makes Perfect
Live sustainability in your own life. Work on the basics of green and ethical food, travel and home, or go radical and build your own wind turbine.
9) It Actually Is What You Know
At heart sustainability is simple, in practice it’s pretty darn complicated. Your job chances are much higher if you can answer some technical questions about sustainability, policy, key issues and solutions frameworks. Sign up for a course, do a degree, do an evening course. Get the basic science and economics under your belt, learn about the major organisations and names. Watch a few TED talks.
Sustainability and CSR needs you. Don’t wait for it to come get you – go out and find it. Or even better – do it where you already are.
These ten tips to working in sustainability aren’t mutually exclusive. My best wishes for your endeavours!
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April 19, 2012
thank you! very helpful