Green Careers for a Sustainable Future

By Amelia Lowe ’21

As the Cohen Career Center’s Sustainability Ambassador, I conduct research on current trends in green careers and interview alumni in green professions. You might be wondering what exactly is a green career? Defining a green career can be difficult given the diversity of opportunities involved in the broad category. In general, green careers can be identified by their focus on preserving the environment and promoting sustainability. As sustainability moves to the forefront of business priorities, green career opportunities increase. On the one hand, green careers may be difficult to identify and categorize, but on the other hand, the vagueness in the definition suggests the immense variety of green career options.

Screenshot from W&M Green Careers website with headings of 'Interested in Green Careers?', 'What is a Green Career?' and 'Greening Your Career'

William & Mary Green Career website

Green careers are on the rise as sustainability and environmentalism shift to the forefront of business practices. According to the 2012 MIT Sloan Management Review and Boston Consulting Group survey, 70% of organizations have placed sustainability permanently on their management agendas. Additionally, according to the 2011 National Environmental Education Foundation survey, 65% of businesses value job candidates who are knowledgeable in environmental and sustainability subjects. With this growing importance of sustainability and environmental awareness in the workforce, the opportunities for students of all backgrounds to find a green career are seemingly endless. Plus, the job market is continuously evolving. Thus, green career opportunities will become even more abundant as our knowledge of the environment and sustainable practices also increases.

The idea of a green career may evoke images of conservationists and environmental scientists in the field, but the category is much broader and surprisingly flexible. To showcase the variety, green careers include landscape architects, environmental lawyers, farmers, and environmental consultants, among many others. There are also opportunities for professionals to ‘green’ their careers. For example, a pediatrician arguably does not fall into the category of a green profession; however, a pediatrician can make efforts to make their practice as sustainable as possible by implementing green strategies. Furthermore, being a sustainable professional does not solely apply to environmentally-related practices. Sustainable development, as recognized by the United Nations, has seventeen goals that pertain to the natural Earth, world peace, inequality, economic growth, hunger, and poverty. All seventeen of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are interconnected under the sustainability canopy that includes environmentalism. Thus, an individual or industry could adopt sustainability goals that align with the United Nations to advance the ‘greening’ of their career(s).

Screenshot from W&M Green Careers website with career insights from alumni on the topics of Internet of Water by Peter Colohan, PennFuture by Angela Kilbert, The Ocean Foundation by Teresa Mackey, Kitchen Girl Farm by Kitchen Girl Farm, Jacobs Architecture & Engineering by Leah Rominger, and Wood Environmental & Infrastructure by Gina Sawaya

Alumni insights from the Green Career website

The William & Mary Cohen Career Center is advancing its reach into green careers through the Sustainability Ambassador position. Many alumni have pursued green careers in a variety of disciplines. Interviews with some of these alumni can be found on the William & Mary Green Career website. The range of industries that these alumni work in showcase how prevalent and adaptable green careers are. For more information on green careers and the abundance of opportunities check out the links below. The Cohen Career Center provides advising for green career opportunities through either the Public Service advisor or the Science advisor and green career internship and job opportunities can be found periodically through TribeCareers.

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