Going Green: Sustainable Career Development for the Green & Gold

By Charles Pritz ’23

This past semester, I worked as a Sustainability Ambassador at the Office of Sustainability in partnership with the Office of Career Development & Professional Engagement at the Cohen Career Center. I came into this role as a student wishing to get more involved in sustainability; as an Environmental Science & Policy major, I wanted to explore relevant activities on campus. 

I also started this semester with a sense of aimlessness. I knew that I had the goal of eventually working in a career centered on sustainability, but I didn’t know what this goal really meant – the breadth of environmentally-focused careers seemed overwhelming. With a desire to learn and help other students in positions similar to mine, I applied to be the Office of Sustainability’s Sustainability Ambassador for the Office of Career Development & Professional Engagement.

In this position, I conducted an assessment of their Green Careers Program and developed recommendations on how that program can adapt to better fulfill the needs of William & Mary students interested in careers in sustainability and the environmental sphere.

William & Mary Cohen Career Center Green Careers Program Assessment, Charles Pritz, December 17, 2021

I concluded the semester by presenting my assessment to the staff of Career Development & Professional Engagement. Pictured above is the title slide of my presentation.

Green Careers are broadly defined as “jobs that are focused on sustainability and/or environmental protection and preservation. These jobs can be defined by the nature and purpose of the job or by the nature and purpose of the employer.” 

Going into this semester, I did not even know that “Green Career” was a real term. Now, I know this definition like the back of my hand, and I can point my fellow students to the multitude of green career paths available to them. In reflecting on the work I did this semester as a Sustainability Ambassador, I am concluding with three key takeaways:

1. Anyone can work in a Green Career.

As seen in the definition above, a wide range of jobs fit into the category of Green Careers. Part of the assessment I conducted this semester was a review of LinkedIn profiles of William & Mary alumni working in Green Careers. 

Alumni in Green Careers are working for all types of employers – nonprofit, government, small business, and corporate, among others. These employers are across all industries, from public service & education to STEAM, business, and creative sectors.

At William & Mary, these alumni studied all sorts of disciplines during their time at William & Mary. From Biology, to Math, to Economics and English, to Marketing, to Government and Geology, and more – any and all disciplines can lead to a career centered around sustainability.

"Students from a variety of disciplines work in green careers after graduation, including William & Mary alum from majors including: mathematics, biology, physics, English, economics, environmental science & policy, geology, government, history, marketing, chemistry, public policy"

The above graphic – promoting awareness for opportunities in green careers – was featured in a Public Service Careers Newsletter sent out by Career Development & Professional Engagement.

2. The Office of Career Development & Professional Engagement has amazing resources for all students.

Yes, my work this semester focused specifically on improving Career Development & Professional Engagement’s Green Career programs and resources. However, I learned that they have robust career development offerings that can benefit all students.

Freshmen & Sophomores who aren’t sure what they want to do as a career can participate in the My Active Career Exploration (MACE) program, where they will be guided through the exploration of possible career options. All students can take advantage of job, internship, and externship opportunities posted in TribeCareers – and partake in career advising, employer events, and career & internship fairs, just to name a few resources.

If you aren’t utilizing Career Development & Professional Engagement’s resources – you should be. There are opportunities for students of all interests, backgrounds, and years – and it’s up to you to take advantage of them.

3. William & Mary has incredible opportunities for students interested in Green Careers.

It’s clear that Career Development & Professional Engagement has resources available to students interested in Green Careers. But what can students do on campus to gain experience in activities relevant to green career development? Through my Green Careers assessment, I came to learn of an incredible range of opportunities that students can take advantage of without even having to step foot off campus.

Between the Office of Sustainability, the Institute for Integrative Conservation, the Environmental Science & Policy Program, and more, there are so many opportunities for William & Mary students who are interested in Green Careers to get involved on campus.

Issues of sustainability and conservation are challenges of the past, present, and future; William & Mary students are uniquely positioned to become leaders in such critical areas. As a Sustainability Ambassador, I learned about so many resources and support systems that are available to students. So, now, the question is, how will you partake in this green career development? 

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