Sustainability is a hot topic and climate change is at the top of the agenda right now. The US has rejoined the Paris Climate Agreement thanks to the Biden Administration, many countries are setting net zero targets and corporates are joining the Science-Based Targets bandwagon.
Against this backdrop, more and more professionals, especially millennials, want to work in a field like climate change they personally feel passionate about. Working in this space is a rich experience. Fighting global warming, you contribute to the solution, or like South Pole CEO Renat Heuberger says: “you are on the right side of history”.
Often, I get asked how I got to my current position in this industry, coming from a non environmental science or sustainability related background. Having studied business administration and majored in Marketing, the jump to climate change and the carbon industry might not have been an obvious one. I have been working for a leading climate solutions provider and carbon project developer for close to a decade. While my career path allowed me to discover this field and ‘learn on the job’, I recognise that not everyone is given this unique opportunity.
With so many people approaching me on LinkedIn or via other channels, I thought it would be a good idea to share some hot tips that hopefully will help you to also score that dream job in climate change that you are aspiring to. So here they come, without claiming to be complete:
1. Know what you want and go for it
When you are passionate about the environment, working in this space will come naturally to you. You probably already have a strong connection to nature, care about it deeply and want to preserve it. So harness this passion and make it your driving force to keep you energised in your quest.
2. Get a degree in the field
Choose a university degree or a course that gives you the academic background to excel in this field. Besides giving you deep level knowledge, you will also end up with a degree that will make you eligible for many exciting positions in the industry.
3. Study and upskill
If you come from a background outside of sustainability or the environmental space like me, don’t despair. There are many courses you can take that give you insights and further credentials to get you more qualified in this space. Check out online sustainability courses, like these offered by the University of Cambridge for example. You can also apply to become an Al Gore trained Climate Reality Leader, or participate in the Climate Collage workshops.
Get out there and meet like minded people. Talk to professionals in the industry. Ever since the rise of COVID , the possibilities to connect with others via online forums, chat groups and news channels have multiplied and become much more mainstream. In the virtual space, just like in the real world, you can get to know other people, who also feel passionate about this topic and who might give you tips of how they got into the industry. Who knows, maybe someone might actually tell you about a job opportunity or connect you with someone who works at firms you are interested in. And now that the worst of the COVID pandemic seems to be behind us, we have happily gone back to face to face meetings, live events, after work drinks and all the rest. People are rediscovering the virtues of face to face interactions. Look up climate related events near you and use them to build your network.
If you are really passionate about climate change, you will probably want to do your part to be part of the solution, even if you don’t work in the sector yet. Think about what is important to you. There is a chance that other like minded people will care about the same or similar issues. You could become involved in circular economy initiatives, beach clean ups or other ocean related topics, or conservation. You might even think about becoming a climate activist by joining Greenpeace or joining your local school strike chapter. Apart from really making a difference and being really satisfying to you, becoming involved like this might also raise your profile in the eyes of recruiters and get you one step closer to your dream job.
6. Be tenacious and don’t despair
People who work in this industry don’t end up in it by chance. It takes drive, determination and patience. Even when you follow all of these tips, that invitation to a job interview might not be coming your way any time soon. Don’t give up. If you truly care about these issues, you will happily become involved in the fight against climate change one way or another. If you show grit and keep at it, I am sure that eventually you will succeed!
7. Have fun
Don’t forget to enjoy yourself. If you follow these tips, you will most likely spend more time in nature, meet great people and make important connections that will shape the rest of your life. Either way, what you learn by following these tips will empower you and let you enjoy your life more.
Thank you for making it this far into the article. Now I wish you best of luck for securing that dream job that you are looking for! And enjoy the journey to get there.
Energy Voices is a democratic space presenting the thoughts and opinions of leading Energy & Sustainability writers, their opinions do not necessarily represent those of illuminem.
Thomas Schröder is a key member of South Pole’s leadership team in Australia, working with private and public sector clients. He is responsible for developing carbon and biodiversity projects, drawing on South Pole’s global leader role. He has 20+ years of international experience in climate action.