By Aaron Hersum
Photo credit: Sean Smith
I came to my first Boston Area Sustainability Group (BASG) event in September of 2015. My goals were simple: network and get a job.
In all honesty, the reason I offered to write for BASG was to promote myself to potential employers. Attending Sustainability & Careers on Tuesday gave me feelings of nostalgia as I spoke with recent graduates looking to begin a career in sustainability, but also presented an opportunity to reflect on my own situation and how I could bring sustainability into my future work and life.
Upon graduation, I quickly realized that “sustainability” is not a particularly marketable skill, even at organizations with sustainability missions. My biggest hurdle in landing my first position was not a lack of networking ability or interview skill; it was a lack of relevant experience.
For me, the most poignant insight shared by Carol, Holly and Tilly on Tuesday was the idea that, as sustainability job seekers, we must still add value to a potential employer through our skill set and experience. What frustrated me so much as I leveraged every possible connection I had to find my first job was that my rejection inevitably was due to a lack of experience. But, how am I supposed to gain experience if no one will give me a job?
Ironically, I finally landed my first (and current) position not through networking or connections, but by sending in a “cold” application on LinkedIn (“cold” is a sales term meaning my prospect has had no previous interaction with myself or my firm). Go figure right?
I am now into the next phase of life, admittedly doing work that does not really connect to sustainability (yet), but I continue to attend BASG because of the community it offers, and the knowledge I always gain from each event. I am also helping write about our events to share that learning with others and with community engagement. Those are the ways I am contributing to sustainability. For now. I am always looking to bring sustainability into my life and work in more and better ways. The point here is that anyone can bring sustainability into their career and life at any time, whether fresh out of college or 20 years into a career. Sustainability is not something you do, it is something you live.
I want to close by thanking Carol, Holly and Tilly for organizing the BASG events, and for sharing their perspectives with us on Tuesday. If you keep reading after the end of my post, you’ll see a summary of the lessons they offered us tonight with the help of Amanda Peters, career counselor at the Harvard Kennedy School. I always look forward to the first Tuesday of the month, and miss BASG during the summer and holiday seasons. The event and the group keep me motivated for sustainability, and help me to see areas in which I can infuse my passion, particularly as my career progresses.
I am forever grateful that I decided to show up that Tuesday in September.
For more from the October 2017 BASG Careers & Sustainability event, please read through our summary of key takeaways: BASG Career (and Life!) Sustainability Lessons