The long road to a green career: perspectives of a green career transition -er.

March 19, 2009 at 9:02 pm 2 comments


penned by Matt

My name is Matt and I’m a green career transition-er.

I have been working with the fun, ambitious and extremely intelligent crew over here at Bright Green Talent for just over a month now as “A Computer Whiz Kid/Internet Guru” fellow (cooler name for intern) working on their internet marketing and SEO (Search Engine Optimization, for those new to the term).

Well, actually, I also have an internship at a Sustainability Consulting Firm ( So, I am working two internships simultaneously as well as working occasionally in my previous job as a commercial photographer – a very busy schedule indeed!

Despite feeling like I am spreading myself a bit thin at times, I feel like I am completely on the right track as I have finally found a sector where I feel like I can make a difference. Yay for green jobs!

So what has my path been so far?

I graduated UCLA about 10 years ago with a degree in Int’l Economics with my sights focused on investment banking. In one I-banking interview I was asked what my idea of “success” was and after a reflective pause, I replied: “To make a lot of money?” (thinking that was the response that they were looking for). That’s when I realized that my heart was clearly not in finance. I was too young to know what I wanted and thought that’s what they wanted to hear. Bad idea.

I then went on to work for British Petroleum (or, Beyond Petroleum as they are now called), following in my father’s footsteps (he worked in oil exploration for most of his career). It has definitely helped my resume to have worked at a large company like this. This corporate experience has been crucial to my skillset, giving me some great business skills.

Being a photography enthusiast, I then went on to start my own business as a freelance photographer (see my arty photos at working for advertising and editorial clients. This developed some of my marketing skills and made me persistent and resourceful. Being able to problem solve is something everyone should work on.

“Jack of all trades, master of none”? Well, for me I think this broad range of experience has been an asset. I can pull from lots of life experience on a range of different problems.

Here are my quick tips for you green career transition –ers:

  • Getting informed, but get focused. Once I decided that I wanted to make this move, I read as much as I could on everything and anything “green”. Since I am interested in Clean Tech, I read “The Clean Tech Revolution” by Clint Wilder and Ron Pernick – a great overview of the tech side of the green industry (highly recommended). However, once you have a good handle on the big picture, try to focus on one specific area of focus. Informational interviews are a great way to gather information, meet new people, and find out more about a particular job role.
  • Networking, networking, networking! The sooner you learn this skill, the better. When I decided that I wanted to “go green” I started attending all sorts of networking events and got lots of cards, entering all contacts into my personal address book. Leverage LinkedIn ( to find people that you might want to meet or work with. I kept bumping into Christina at tons of networking events, including Green Drinks (, to the point where it ended up being ridiculous if we DIDN’T work together.
  • Develop your personal brand. Create a blog for you own voice. Use social networks wisely to engage your friends and colleagues. How will people talk about you and describe you in one sentence? Consider it like a company tag line, like: “Matt is the guy we can rely on for blank”.
  • Get a new – and specific – skillset. You might want to take a class on something. I took a series of night classes all summer on Integrated Marketing. When I got the chance to use this newfound knowledge at Bright Green Talent, I jumped at the opportunity.
  • Get involved. Engage with your contacts and get involved in events. I submitted photos to BGT’s photo competition. Get out there and do stuff so people can see you!
  • Love what you do, but also and maybe more importantly, love who you work with! I am enjoying my time at BGT because the people here are young, smart, and fun. Remember how important that will be in your long-term career…

I hope this helps. Feel free to contact me if any of you career transition people need some specific advice. I am happy to share my knowledge.

P.S. Bright Green Talent is hiring two new interns! Go for it!


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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Jen  |  March 20, 2009 at 8:20 pm

    Hi Matt,

    I enjoyed reading your blog. Sounds like you are on a successful path toward a bright green future!

    I wanted to let you and your readers know about a new site my company is launching,

    We help small companies go green, profitably.

    We focus on the business and profit side of sustainability.

    Please check us out and take three minutes to join the site.

    Also – we are open to working with writers who are interested in the topics we cover. We offer bylines and don’t have a budget at this point.


  • 2. Doug  |  March 22, 2009 at 9:18 pm

    Hi Matt,

    I have a question about networking for a green job. My mother does SAT prep tutoring and recently ran into an old friend who now works with the Obama Administration and is involved in clean technology in the Bay Area. I go to school in DC and would love an internship in this sort of area over the summer. I talked with her over the phone and she said she would distribute my resume to clean tech organizations she was meeting with two weeks ago. I haven’t heard from her since. Should I contact her and, if so, what should I say? I don’t want to loose such a good contact!



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