The beginning of fall brings a new wave of students and graduates, all eager to learn about sustainability career options. Just last week, I received 10 LinkedIn invitations and 20 emails asking me about how to get hired for a sustainability job or internship.
The interesting part is that ‘sustainability career’ meant something different to each of these 30 students or recent graduates. Most of them believed that their only option is to be working in the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) department at a big company. Such CSR jobs are very visible, and highly coveted. However, CSR jobs are only a sliver of the sustainability career options emerging and established leaders can compete for.
Generally speaking, sustainability careers can be defined as jobs that successfully blend financial return with social impact and environmental stewardship. Some sustainability jobs will focus on environmental sustainability (e.g. energy efficiency, renewable energy, cleantech, green packaging, green supply chain, green building). Some sustainability jobs focus more on societal sustainability (i.e. social innovation), including careers in poverty eradication, sustainable development, education reform, women’s empowerment, sustainable agriculture, or access to quality healthcare.
Furthermore, while CSR jobs are present at big companies, one can also choose to build a career in a company where every employee is a CSR manager. These for-profit companies can either be a sustainable business (e.g. Timberland) or a for-profit social enterprise (e.g. TOMs).
To clear some of the confusion around sustainability careers and provide resources for emerging leaders to explore sustainability career options beyond CSR jobs, Mark and I created the primer below. In less than 10 minutes, this primer will give your students and alumni a clear picture of the sustainability careers available to them across sectors, as well as 20 resources (e.g. books, online research tools, job boards) they can immediately leverage:
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Feel free to distribute this content to your students and alumni, we look forward to hearing their comments and questions, as well as yours.