Posts tagged ‘recent graduates’
We read marketing guru Seth Godin’s blog every day, and today’s struck as particularly salient – he notes that just 20% of 2009 college graduates who applied for jobs actually have one. His prescription (below) largely coincides with a piece of advice that we repeat ad nauseum: while there might not be green jobs (or jobs at all) at the moment, there will be in 6 months or a year or two years, and you should be ready. Spend this time getting yourself ahead of the pack by volunteering, studying, training, networking. Here are Seth’s thoughts:
Fewer college grads have jobs than at any other time in recent memory—a report by the National Association of Colleges and Employers annual student survey said that 20 percent of 2009 college graduates who applied for a job actually have one. So, what should the unfortunate 80% do?
How about a post-graduate year doing some combination of the following (not just one, how about all):
- Spend twenty hours a week running a project for a non-profit.
- Teach yourself Java, HTML, Flash, PHP and SQL. Not a little, but mastery.
- Volunteer to coach or assistant coach a kids sports team.
- Start, run and grow an online community.
- Give a speech a week to local organizations.
- Write a regular newsletter or blog about an industry you care about.
- Learn a foreign language fluently.
- Write three detailed business plans for projects in the industry you care about.
- Self-publish a book.
- Run a marathon.
Beats law school.
If you wake up every morning at 6, give up TV and treat this list like a job, you’ll have no trouble accomplishing everything on it. Everything! When you do, what happens to your job prospects?
Penned by Carolyn
We always encourage students and grads (and everyone else!) to volunteer with environmentally-focused organizations/initiatives in order to network, get some green experience on their resume and do good as they’re jobsearching.
So, you ask: What opportunities are there to dive into a green career through volunteering?
Non-profits: Given the state of the economy, non-profits need a lot of help right now and could really value your volunteer time. Find a non-profit in your area that works on issues you’re interested in – policy, water issues, international development, etc. Do keep in mind that it’s better to focus on a specific project that you are willing to help with or spearhead. Idealist.org has an extensive list of volunteer opportunities that you can sort by interest and location to get a sense for what’s out there. Find your local Sierra Club chapter; Green for All has resources on how to support green jobs growth in your local community.
Get down and dirty: Add some manpower to a green building project and get industry exposure at the same time. GRID Alternatives is popular in the Bay Area, where volunteers help install solar panels on low-income housing. Habitat for Humanity has some green building related projects as well. Friends of the Urban Forest in San Francisco asks for volunteers to help with tree-planting. Find your local community garden project or farmer’s market and offer to help out. Join AmeriCorps for a year of service. Go help clean up your local park, or find a summer or seasonal job in a National Park through The Student Conservation Association.
Get political: Find your state PIRG (Public Interest Research Group) and help them canvass and push green legislation in your state (we’ve got Environment California here in the Bay Area). Apply to spend a year working with GreenCorps, a year-long hands-on training program around the U.S. that breeds the country’s top environmental organizers (and has a really strong job placement program and alumni network to take advantage of at the end).
Go abroad! Foundation for Sustainable Development places students and recent grads in internships in developing countries around the world. You are placed in a domestic non-profit there depending on your development-related interests and can design your own project, seek funding, and get some great hands-on experience… all while experiencing a new culture. Ecoteer.com connects you with green volunteer opportunities around the world. Join Willing Workers on Organic Farms (WWOOF) and spend some time trading your work for room and board in one of many countries around the world that hosts a WWOOF network.
Take a “pay the bills job” and volunteer for a company you’re interested in. Make sure you have a specific project suggestion to put in front of them, rather than just willingness to work. For example, a 2007 graduate named Ajay sent us this note about his efforts to get “green” experience. He works for a utility, and offers a few days a week for free to a solar company in the area, who he reached through a contact there (go network!). As he says, “The more I work with this solar manufacturer, the more people I meet and the more people know my name.” Troll green job boards such as Treehugger and GreenBiz for unpaid internships or volunteering; use contacts at these organizations and others to find out whether you can lend a hand.
Network: Another example is helping to organize green networking events in your city. Green Drinks is a great monthly meet-up that has chapters in many cities. Contact your local chapter to help organize; if none exists, start one up! We’re working with an amazing team of Green Drinks volunteers here in San Francisco that are helping set up a “Green Careers Connections” event – by doing so, they’re networking with eachother and getting to reach out to lots of companies that they might be interested in working for themselves. We’re also big fans of Net Impact – lend a hand with your local chapter and get connected to passionate professionals.
Conferences need volunteers. When you hear a green conference is coming to town, find out ways to volunteer with the organization and actual conference. Green Festivals needs lots of hands on deck; keep an eye on GreenBiz‘s list of events for whether anything’s being planned for near you.
If you’re already out there volunteering, send us a success story of how it’s helped you in the job search process!
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.
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 Matt
- Focus on networking more than looking at job boards. People give you jobs. Most of the people I talk to that get a good job had some kind of “in” – either with someone that refers them or recommends them for a job or works at the place where the job is offered.
- Focus on the smaller, local companies. Great opportunities abound in your backyard. Small companies have less hoops to jump through, are often fun places to work, and you are more likely to develop a relationship that will result in a job. Compile a list of cool companies in your local area and be sure to check their websites, call them, or give them a visit (if appropriate!)
It took me years to figure these two things out. I hope that helps. Have a great weekend! – Matt
Penned by Carolyn
Last week, in the first installation of Bright Green Talent’s Resume Boot Camp, I discussed some general tactics for not having your resume immediately thrown out.
Before I get started on formatting and other juicy resume advice, let me just give a plug for Bright Green Talent’s newly unveiled career counseling and resume services. We try to give catch-all advice on the blog, but everyone has their own unique issues and getting personalized advice can make all the difference.
So, as for formatting:
- Rule #1 – Simplicity reigns. We receive resumes all the time that look like they were composed in Kid Pix – colors everywhere, different fonts, clip art… scrap all of that. The flashiest your resume should get is bold type on the schools you attended and the titles of positions you’ve held.
- Rule #2 – Do not succumb to the desire to have columns in your resume. I don’t know from whence said desire comes, but it makes the resume visually confusing and a lot of automated applicant tracking systems will mangle all your information as they upload your resume.
- Rule #3 – As lovely/mature/handsome you might look in photos, please don’t include any in your resume. Nick, our Managing Partner, sums it up as such: “It distracts from your accomplishments and oftentimes lowers recruiter’s opinion (makes it seem like you’re relying on your good looks, or are over-confident).”
- Rule #4 – And while we’re on the subject of visuals, let us touch upon video resumes… basically, we’ve yet to see one done well. In the future, they might become the norm (for instance, keep an eye on Visual CV) – but for now, it seems like the flashiness and entertainment value are covering up weak experience or some other shortcoming.
- Rule #5 – Don’t make any of your resume too text-heavy. Bullet points are a great way to go — they make your resume seem digestible at a glance, which will in turn increase the likelihood of someone reading through the whole thing. Plus, it’ll make you avoid rambling and vagaries, which there’s no room for in a one-page resume.
Rules 6 and beyond to come next week. Stay tuned! For advice in the meantime, find us twittering away.
Penned by Carolyn
The prophet Napoleon Dynamite once expounded upon the importance of having skills: “You know, like nunchuck skills, bow hunting skills, computer hacking skills…” He’s concerned about his chances of getting a date, but the same basically holds true for finding jobs (though I’d go easy on advertising the bow-hunting abilities).
I wrote last week about the importance of having hard skill sets to make your resume stand out. Yes, green passion is a vital part of your resume – being involved in environmental groups on campus, taking environmental studies classes, and nagging all your friends to recycle will give you the credibility you need to communicate with green organizations.
However, if you can back this up with demonstrated ability to do the tasks required of a job, you stand a much better chance of being hired. Companies right now don’t have as much time, energy and resources to put towards training you, so they’re going to look to hire people who they know can dive right in.
You’ve heard these before, but let me reiterate these two tactics for building your extra-curricular resume:
- Get an internship or a part-time job while you’re in school. It doesn’t have to be in the green sector, but you should be sure to come away from it with a set of tasks that you can complete. For example, if you have a media internship, you’ll be able to write press releases, cold-call reporters, even speak in public. With an administrative position, you might learn to manage an office, organize schedules, or plan events. Even being confident in working a fax/copy machine can tip you over the fence in the hiring process: we’ve seen amazing people be turned away from basic administrative positions for not having nitty-gritty, seemingly mundane skills like this.
- In the student groups you’re involved in, find your way into a leadership role. If you can’t, build a new branch or start a new initiative or group. Demonstrating broader reach, leading collaboration with other groups/administration, and having concrete accomplishments will give you strong material to pull from in an interview. For example, “I helped a student group encourage recycling on campus” is a lot less compelling than “I worked with school administration and student government to get recycling bins put into every student dorm room.”
- If you’ve already graduated, build on what you did in college — get involved with community organizations and non-profits. Given the state of the economy, non-profits need a lot of help right now and could really value your volunteer time. Depending on what you’re interested in (policy? water issues? international development?), find a non-profit in your area and see how you can help out. Not only will you build your resume (= skills!), but you’ll meet people in the field and potentially get connected to job opportunities — basically, it’s a productive and meaningful way to network in the space you’re hoping to enter.
By doing any combination of the above, you’ll show flexibility, a range of skills, and the ability to tackle challenges from a paper-jam to campus-wide composting. While it might take some effort, you can make your resume almost as sweet as Napoleon’s dance moves.
Next week I’ll discuss classes and academic skills that can be valuable to you as you jump into the job market.
Penned by Carolyn
Everyone seems to claim that when they graduated from school, the job market was the worst it’s ever been – kind of like how when they were young, they walked to school 10 miles in the snow uphill both ways.
While I’d love to be more reassuring, there’s no point in my skirting the issue – as far as anyone can really remember, this is the worst it’s been for being a student or recent graduate trying to find a job. You are, so to speak, at the bottom of an enormous mountain, barefoot, in a blizzard.
Everyone is going to have to adjust expectations and probably take paths that they hadn’t planned on in order to weather the next few years. But that isn’t to say there aren’t great opportunities out there. It’s a matter of understanding the barriers we face, and finding creative ways to surmount them.
The challenges for us young’uns getting into a green career are basically these:
- For entry-level positions, everyone’s background is relatively undifferentiated. Sure, you might have relevant coursework or have gone to a great school, but you haven’t necessarily worked to gain particular skills that make you the obvious choice over the other 500 people applying for the job. You need to figure out how to make your resume – academic and extracurricular – make you stand out from the bunch.
- Not only do lots of recent graduates want to get into green jobs, but everyone wants to get into a green job. People that have 10 or even 20 years of experience are shifting careers, applying for entry-level positions in order to gain “green” skill-sets and credibility. Just having the green fever won’t cut it – you’re going to need to back it up with skills.
- What’s more, everyone wants a job – any job. Given the unemployment rates right now, people are diving on every posted job opportunity in hordes. Companies are getting absolutely inundated with resumes for low-level positions, and making your candidacy stand out from the hundreds of other applicants is even more difficult.
Okay, it sounds pretty dire. The good news is you’ve got a couple advantages working for you as you try to step into a green career.
- The “green” industry is young, and tends to favor younger minds and attitudes. They want energy, growth, and enthusiasm – and especially people who can think outside the box, as so much of the industry is focused on innovation right now. Plus, skill sets that you wouldn’t even consider special (like being Facebook and blog savvy, being read up on the most recent green technologies, and spending ¾ of your life on a computer) give you a huge advantage over older folks who have to actively learn these skills.
- You are, for the most part, a free agent. Generally, you have fewer commitments to families/spouses, you don’t own a house, and you’re able to travel or relocate more easily. This makes it easier for you to fit into positions where they arise than some of the older, more experienced jobseekers.
- On your campus, there was probably a lot of talk of sustainability. Even if you didn’t actively seek it out, you likely went to a few talks or had greenie friends who kept telling you about the latest innovations in composting. Just by virtue of being connected to a university, you’re more plugged into what’s happening in sustainability than folks who have to read it in the newspaper or online. (If you’re on campus, make the most of this!)
So, though there will be some definite trudging through snow before things clear up, don’t despair. There are ways to position yourself to get into a green career, and the opportunities will only grow from here.
Stay tuned as I spend the next few weeks outlining the job-search process and how to get a green job – whether it’s now or in a year or two. Next week: gathering skills and building your resume.
About me: I myself am a recent graduate and a battle-scarred survivor of the search for a green job. I’ve been at Bright Green for awhile now, and have worked on all parts of the process – finding talented folks for jobs, liaising with colleges and graduate programs to get them advice on professionally pursuing their environmental passion, and helping spread the Bright, Green word far and wide.