To be straight forward, I am exploring my career paths right now, so this is more like an open cover letter than a blog post. This is in light of the 3 million ‘green’ jobs that were available last year. I’ll have one of those, please. But what makes a job green? What qualifies someone to take on a green job? How can one get experience in a nascent industry? How can one jump the experience-needed-for-job/job-needed-for-experience hurdle in an exceptionally young and broad industry frontier (and during an economic downturn)??
These are all questions I have asked myself as I pursued an undergraduate degree emphasizing sustainability and a MS in Environmental Sciences. In undergrad, I was immersed in interdisciplinary studies among biology, botany, environmental health, geology, aquatic ecology, economics, and political science. I even took the capstone sustainability course (team-taught by a geologist, an economist, and a political scientist), which led me to feel that all college students should be exposed to an interdisciplinary, introductory sustainability course. In graduate school, I took fascinating courses like pollution ecology, plant ecology, GIS, hydrology, and environmental law. For my thesis project, I delved into the world of living architecture. I evaluated the stormwater control potential and urban heat island benefits of living retaining wall systems. As a part of the same laboratory group, I also helped with numerous green roof projects at SIUE.
I have thoroughly enjoyed the academic world. But for now, aside from studying for and recently obtaining a LEED Green Associate credential, I’m done with academia. I’m ready to find one of those new-fangled green jobs. But which job? I suppose with my broad educational experience, there are a few possibilities.
But based on my interests and education, I’ve got a few paths that may yet be passable.
I’ve always been a listener and an observer. On top of that, graduate school brought with it hours of research experience. Researching means finding solutions and giving greater advice. With training or perhaps an apprenticeship, I could consult on topics of green building, living architecture, sustainability, or perhaps even ecological restoration.
Green Building and Living Architecture Advocate
I’m already entrenched in this field with experience researching living walls and green roofs. I attended and presented at the 2011 Cities Alive Conference in Philadelphia. I’ve been involved with a new company that markets living wall systems. I just became a LEED Green Associate, so I’m now more familiar with the rating system and how living architecture enters into the green building equation.
Conservation and Ecological Restoration
I’ve been fascinated with native plants and the restoration of natural areas for years. I have particular interest in reclaiming old fields, restoring and expanding prairies, and protecting riparian zones. I’ve had exposure to some plant, fish, and aquatic macroinvertebrate taxonomy. I’ve enjoyed classes like Ecology of Plants, Taxonomy of Flowering Plants, Aquatic Ecology, Pollution Ecology, and Environmental Biology. Since last May, I’ve even had the pleasure of volunteering as a horticulturist at a nature reserve. There I’ve helped collect and clean native plant seeds.
Some days I envision a great paying job with an office; other days, as I wade through restored prairie, I feel as though my office could be outside.
For now, the networking continues.
Speaking of networking, feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn.