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"How can I get a sustainability job?" is the wrong question

November 6, 2017

Students often ask "how can I get a job in sustainability?" and perhaps this is the wrong question. Asking how you can get a job is like asking how you can catch a cab.  You are confusing ends and means.  The question really is: where do you want to go?

 

The right first question(s) just might be:  

  • what kind of difference do I want to make in the world?

  • what problems do I want to solve?

  • what issues frustrate me that I want to resolve in the world? In my community? In my company?

  • what solutions, creations, people, and examples of what is possible most inspire me?

  • who do I want to serve?


These questions focus the mind on what is most important:  the end goal.  This should be articulated and written down as clearly as possible. Even if you end up changing it. Even if it sounds crazy.  And even it scares you or sounds pretentious (after all, who are you to have such bold aspirations?)

 

"One person with a commitment is worth a hundred who only have an interest."

- Mary Crowley

 

Then you can return to questions of means.  Once you know where you want to go and why it is important to you, you can return to what you will need to get it done.  

  • who will I need to become in order to realize this goal?

  • what skills do I need? how or where can I acquire them?

  • what knowledge will I require? from whom or how will I learn it?

  • who do I need to know or work with?

  • what resources, assets, equipment, or tools will I need?


Only then does it make sense to consider jobs.  And then I prefer framing the question as:  "what kind of job do I need to get or create to move closer to my goals?"

 

The unimaginative catch any cab that passes by.  And take any job that provides security or status.  The creative determin