Archive for April, 2009
Penned by Tom
In his fantastic interview with Doostang, Nick mentioned that one day, long beyond his time at Bright Green Talent (we hope), he’d like to be the San Francisco City and Parks Commissioner. As I strolled around Golden Gate Park this sunny weekend, I mused on this. Typical to Nick, it’s a thoughtful, somewhat eccentric ambition. The Monty Python Song, ‘I’m a lumberjack’ rolled around in my head. Nick possesses a commanding eloquence, huge intelligence and a incredible way with business. As such, my initial reaction was typical of the modern age – that he should aim higher… for mayor, governor or beyond. Yet the more I sat with it, the more this ambition made sense.
As I meandered through the park, I came across the Botanical Gardens. They reminded me of one of my favourite places on earth – the Botanical Gardens in Edinburgh – in both layout and style. Sure enough, when I looked up the park’s history, the Garden’s developer John McLaren, received his training in Edinburgh’s eden. His biography brought home to me the depth and meaning behind Nick’s ambition. John was ‘the best loved man in San Francisco’, according to one source. He lived in house in the park and spent time amongst nature every day. He earned enough prestige and admiration to become one of the ‘greatest Scots of all time’. He has left a beautiful, indelible mark on the city for thousands and thousands of people to enjoy for years, long beyond his death. He achieved his dream, to plant a redwood grove. Like Lord Iveagh, who donated Kenwood House to the people of London (where I spent many happy days as a child), his legacy leaves the inhabitants of this city with indelible memories of time spent within his park. Surely there can be no greater ambition than that? It might not seem the most glamourous job in the world, but could it be one of the most rewarding?
John McLaren is said to have planted over 2 million trees in his lifetime. Hopefully Bright Green Talent will also achieve that one day, as we plant a tree for each and every candidate we place . My favourite part of his biography is the advice his father gave him: “Me boy, if ye have nothing to do, go plant a tree and it’ll grow while ye sleep.” Surely a job which leaves a growing legacy that benefits many thousands of people long after you’re gone is something we should all aim for.
My own ambition is to become the CEO of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It’s perhaps a more obvious choice which, until Nick’s captured my attention, has long been my ‘best job in the world’. Perhaps I take a leaf out of Nick’s park and aim for something humbler, yet equally meaningful.
This is the first of our guest blogging series. If you have thoughts to share on seeking a green job, send a sample piece of 500 words or less to speakout[at]brightgreentalent.com.
Penned by Thomas Ramsson
Having recently graduated with a ‘green’ MSc earlier this year, I had to watch 40% of my office be made redundant in March. I had looked forward to a full-time position with the multi-disciplinary consultancy I worked for during my studies, but instead I was told that the company couldn’t take me on full-time, and they could only extend my existing, part-time contract for one more month.
Instead of being grief stricken, I took comfort in that I had been networking for months, had established strong contacts, and had already been interviewing elsewhere. You see, I had a great boss who forewarned me to get job-hunting a few months earlier.
But it wasn’t just having a nice boss tipping me off that got me job seeking. In hindsight, I did a few things revolving around my thesis that secured me work in green business. So here are my tips to you:
1. Choose a relevant thesis topic; speak to professionals in industry for suggestions.
2. Use the skills employers are looking for in the research (I used whole life cost analysis, cost/benefit analysis, and carbon footprinting).
3. Ask a few companies if you can partner with them for advice in exchange for permission to link your research to their projects (subject to IP restrictions).
At the Interview:
4. Be ready to discuss your thesis topic extensively during interviews (I interviewed for my current job just a week after my viva).
5. Be ready to discuss your motivation for your thesis topic and for a career in the green sector. Better answers than “Prevent global warming” are required.
Instead of being a distraction during your job search, preparing your thesis should be your job search.
Paul made the media rounds during Earth Week as everyone was wondering where green jobs are and whether they’ll live up to all the hype. Paul speaks here with San Diego News Network; he also spoke on Saturday at the San Diego Green Careers Conference.
Penned by Carolyn
In the past few weeks, my weekly blog posts have become my soapbox to spread my thoughts on how to use LinkedIn correctly in the jobseeking process. Here are some additional guidelines, as well as some links to other experts who’ve put some brainpower into the matter.
- LinkedIn is your virtual Rolodex — and an easy way to store all those business cards you pick up. When you meet people at events, follow up with a *thoughtful* note and invitation to connect.
- Demonstrate judgment when requesting a link to someone or accepting someone’s request. As you may have noted in the past few weeks, people without said judgment are a major pet peev of mine, so I’ll expand a little here by including thoughts from Troy Janisch’s recent post on how to determine whether you should link to someone: Would I feel comfortable contacting this individual on behalf of another friend? Would I be willing to introduce this individual to someone else I know so they can do business together? Am I comfortable letting this person use my name as a business reference? Will this person know me if he’s approached by others who use my name?
- DO include a personal note. And get their categorization correct (ie, if you’re going to attempt to link to someone you’ve never met, don’t say someone’s your friend. It seems careless, if not a bit creepy.)
- If they don’t respond, relax. Don’t send two requests to the same person in one day (yes, it happens).
- Mention folks you know in common.
- Personalize. You waste an opportunity when you send an obviously generic note with your link request (such as addressing it to “Friends and Colleagues” — especially when I’m neither!).
- Most importantly: don’t use LinkedIn as a crutch. “Meeting” people online DOES NOT EQUAL knowing them. Go meet people in person (need inspiration? watch the video below from MeetUp.com). You will get much more value if you get up, get to networking events, volunteer, etc.
Thoughts from others on this topic:
- Find Your Next Job Using LinkedIn – Troy Janisch
- Top Ten LinkedIn Do’s and Don’ts – Liz Ryan
- Taking the Social Networking Plunge (NYTimes) – Marci Alboher
Penned by Nick
For those of who you feel like you’re on a treadmill of interviews and job applications, know that you’re not alone. Perseverance remains the name of the game today–hang in there!
Scribbled by Nick
The Times ran a story on social entprereneurs today that cleared a major hurdle: it made the idea of social entrepreneurship accessible.
Conventionally businesses like d.Light and Bright Green Talent have struggled to be understood. Partly it’s because the economics of our business models often defy convention. In BGT’s case, the cheaper our services get, the more people we can place into green jobs. That’s a good thing, but it means our business only realizes its full potential at scale. Between here and there, we continue to prove the existing model profitable, though not necessarily powerful.
Underlining all these business assumptions is a goal that conventional businesses would probably never embrace: to one day go out of business. I continue to push for my early retirement because we’ll have placed 1 billion people in green jobs and mobilized the workforce to fight climate change. Until then, it’s business as (un)usual.
On the eve of Earth Day, the Bright Green Talent team joined forces with San Francisco’s Net Impact Professional chapter for a few hours of climbing and conversation. Check out our Flickr stream to see all the photos from the event… here are a few tasters:
Penned by Carolyn
Okay, so the WHOLE WORLD is warming up: polar bears are drowning off their melting icebergs, our kids will never know what a glacier is, and Florida (Disney World!) is going to disappear completely underwater. But these huge issues beg the question: what am I, as an open-minded but admittedly lazy college kid, supposed to do about it?
Luckily, there are a lot of little ways that we can change our habits, without having to chain ourselves to ancient redwoods or eat granola for every meal. Here’s a list of ten easy things you can do this Earth Day to make a little bit of difference- and if enough of us get on board, we might just save a few polar bears along the way.
1. Let’s start easy: turn your lights off when you’re leaving a room for more than 15 minutes. Most college dorms still use incandescent lightbulbs – which have not significantly advanced technologically since they were invented 125 years ago (around the same time as the telegraph and the steam locomotive.) If you don’t want to install CFL bulbs (which are 75% more efficient than traditional incandescents), turn your lights off when you’re not going to be around. During the day, use windows and natural lighting instead of electricity.
Your computer also uses an absurd amount of energy, which you can cut down on by setting your computer to go to sleep automatically during short breaks. And as sweet as those flying toasters might be, don’t use a screen saver: they use almost ten times as much energy as a computer in sleep mode. When you go to sleep, turn your computer off—it is an urban legend propagated by evil tree-haters that turning your computer on and off repeatedly hurts the machine.
2. Bring your own coffee mug.
In 2005, Americans used and discarded 14.4 billion disposable paper cups for hot beverages. If put end-to-end, those cups would circle the earth 55 times. Based on anticipated growth of specialty coffees, that number will grow to 23 billion by 2010- enough to circle the globe 88 times. Plus, those coffee cups are lined with petrochemicals in order to keep them from leaking. Based on hot cup usage in 2005, the petrochemicals used in the manufacture of those cups could have heated 8,300 homes for one year. If you bring your own to-go mug, most places will offer you a 15 or 25 cent discount. Or save that embarrassingly exorbitant $4 you’d spend on a latte, and just make a drink at home before you go.
3. Take a shorter shower.
Every 4 minutes in the shower, you use up 10 gallons of precious fresh water. Plus, heating water accounts for up to 25% of the total energy used in a single-family home – that’s more energy, on average, than is needed to drive a medium-sized car 12,000 miles. Shorten your shower and spend less time standing in all that gross fungi. Or, alternatively, shower with a friend – more good incentive to economize.
4. Only do your laundry when you have a full load (as if you needed encouragement on this one).
It takes 40 gallons of water to do an average load of laundry with a top-loading washing machine, and 86% of energy consumed by washing goes into heating the water. How to cut down? Wash only your really disgustingly dirty clothes in hot water. Most clothes can safely be washed in cold, and this alone could eliminate up to 1,600 pounds of yearly CO2 emissions in the average household (just think about how much more a dorm emits). As for the dryer, the lint filter on your dryer can decrease the energy used per load by up to 30 percent, so make sure to clean it before you start a load. Finally, you have an excuse for your girlfriend for why you haven’t done your laundry in a month.
5. Unplug stuff.
Think about how many things are plugged in but not in use in your room right now: speakers, printer, computer, lights, hairdryers, cell phone chargers, your new Wii… “Vampire power” (as us eco-alarmists like to call it) is actually draining a lot of energy and money without you ever noticing. Cost estimates for this wasted electricity range from $1 billion to $3.5 billion annually. The biggest energy wasters are audio equipment, DVD players, and cordless phones. If you use a power strip, it’s easy to fight back—just switch off the strip when you’re not using it. And when you’re not using your fridge (i.e., when it contains only half-eaten sandwiches you bought three months ago), unplug it, and you’ll also save yourself from that annoying buzzing sound it always makes when you’re trying to fall asleep.
6. Print double-sided, or on old scrap paper.
Here’s the whirlwind of statistics:
Over 40% of the world wood harvest ends up as paper. Last year, the United States threw out 20% of all the paper made in the world. One fifth of all the tropical rainforests in the world disappeared between 1960 and 1990. It takes about 31 million BTU’s to make a ton of paper: enough energy to power a U.S. home for 2 months. The average cost of a wasted piece of paper is $.06.
Borderline overwhelming, I know. So what can you do to save all those cute jungle monkeys and thousand-year-old trees? When you’re buying printer paper, buy recycled. Set your printer to print double-sided, or feed it scrap paper that you don’t need anymore. And think twice about printing things: are you one of those compulsive hi-lighter kids, or could you just read or store it on your computer instead? Once again, not too hard.
7. The environmentalist broken record: recycle.
It is some poorly-paid environmentalist’s job to come up with statistics like this one: “Did you know that the nearly 50 billion aluminum cans trashed in 2005 could have saved enough energy to power 1.3 million American homes if they had been recycled?” Because aluminum is one of the most energy-intensive industries in the world, each can you toss in the trash wastes as much energy as pouring out half a can of gasoline. A lot of energy and landfill space also goes into plastic, glass, paper, Styrofoam, and cardboard, and these are all widely recycled. Recycling saves 95% of the energy in aluminum production and 60% of the energy needed to make paper.
Recycling is usually located right next to your trash dumpster, or you can cash in by bringing bottles back for the deposit at your local grocery store or dump. Given how much Coke you probably drink, 5 cents a can in returns can add up quickly.
8. Take one trip a week that you’d normally take by car on your bike or walking instead.
Come on, that’s not asking that much. Figuring just a 2.5-mile round trip commute, you riding your bike to class 50 times a year (that’s once a week, or a little more) saves 125 pounds of carbon. Think about it next time you run to the grocery store or the post office. Enjoy the fresh air and the exercise, save money on gas, and spend less time sitting in your dirty dilapidated car.
9. Use a reusable water bottle instead of buying bottled water.
First of all, bottled water is ridiculously expensive: you’re paying up to 2,000 times the price of tap water, when often, the water they’re selling you is just tap water. As if that weren’t embarrassing enough, Good Morning America did a blind taste test of snobby bottled water versus tap water in New York City, and tap water solidly beat out all the other varieties for taste. So where are all your crumpled dollars going when you buy bottled? To over-pumping of springs, habitat disturbance, and packaging that, if not recycled, creates a big waste problem. In fact, more than 8 billion gallons of bottled water are consumed annually in the U.S. – that’s 25 billion plastic water bottles, 90% of which get thrown away.
Cheaper, cleaner, easier. No college kid can argue with that.
10. Paper or plastic? Neither, thanks.
Try this for shock factor: the world consumes 1 million plastic bags per minute. Plastic deteriorates, but never fully decomposes – this means it will sit in a landfill forever, taking up space. If the plastic doesn’t end up in the landfills, it becomes a huge litter problem. In every square mile of ocean, there are 1 million pieces of plastic, which cause the deaths of 100,000 marine animals per year, including CUTE BABY SEALS. Plus, plastic is made from fossil fuels, and requires a lot of energy to process.
As for paper, paper bags use high amounts of wood, petroleum, and coal for production and processing. In 1999, U.S. use of 10 billion paper grocery bags resulted in the felling of 14 million trees.
So bring your own bag to the grocery store, or if you’re not buying too much, just carry it out by hand. Not doing so is the equivalent of being a baby-seal-clubber – let’s leave that to the Canadians.
Unfortunately, global warming’s a lot like the pile of dirty laundry in the corner of your closet: if we don’t deal with it now, it’s just going to keep piling up, until the rotting stench is so unbearable that we have to just give up and throw it out. And that’s the catch – we’ve only got one planet to work with, so we’ve got to deal with these issues now. Plus, I tricked you. This list got rid of all your excuses about saving the environment being too hard – it could actually be pretty easy. So get on it: it’s time to clean up our act.
PS: Oh, and one last one: look for a green job! Depending on how many years you’ve been in school, your brain’s worth somewhere in the hundreds of thousands of dollars by this point. Put all that value and know-how to work for the planet!
Penned by Tom
No matter how hard we at Bright Green Talent try to be honest, charming, erudite bright greenies, people’s perception of us is still occasionally tarnished by others in our trade – the recruiters who sling CVs around without a thought to anyone who’ll receive them, in the hope that they’ll make some quick cash.
As I’ve said before, we started this company because we saw an opportunity to do things properly within the green sector and to help people get green jobs. For us, it’s about creating long-term relationships, not short-term transactions. From the feedback (and placements) we receive, it’s a joy to be continually vindicated.
Yet many people still don’t use recruiters to their benefit. If you need convincing, here are 7 reasons for using a good (the good bit’s important!), green recruiter wisely:
- Share the load. You’ve landed a green job and aren’t actively looking – let someone else keep an eye on the market for you. A good recruiter will keep you in mind as they swing through their days, weeks and months.
- It costs you nothing – recruiters receive fees from the company, not you, so why not post your CV? As long as you don’t get continually spammed for hopeless jobs, you should benefit.
- Gain an advocate. Recruiters will know the industry, they’ll help you get the right salary, give you tips before interview, and help negotiate on your behalf.
- Save time. You’ll learn what you should/shouldn’t be applying for and what you’re likely to get or not before wasting time yourself on something unrealistic.
- Increase your resume’s chance of being read. Companies receive a slew of CVs. If yours comes through a good trusted recruiter, it’s already been filtered from many others – therefore it’s more likely to be read.
- Think long-term. Once you’ve engaged with a recruiter on one position (whether you are hired or not), they’ll always keep you in mind for future positions. The more you engage, the closer relationship you’ll create and the more opportunities will come your way.
- Access insider opportunities. Recruiters will sometimes recruit for a green job that they cannot post publicly – they hunt actively rather than passively, and they’ll start with their databases. Positions are sometimes filled without ever being posted. If you’re not on the list, you’re not getting hired.
If you haven’t yet, we encourage you to ramp up your job search by engaging with Bright Green Talent. Choose wisely, let us know about your good/bad recruiter experiences, as we continue to learn and grow.