Secrets of Getting a (Green) Job

Many of us at one point in time have been looking for a job.  Readers of this site may be looking specifically for a “green” or sustainability-oriented job.  But what are the secrets to landing that ever alluring position?

Last Wednesday, the Sustainable Business Council of Los Angeles (SBCLA) in conjunction with the Graziadio School of Business and Management, put on an event, “Green Jobs: Get to Work!”  It was a combination of a guest panel discussion from sustainable executives, a networking event, and a green internship fair.  The event gave us some hints at getting that green job.

Passion. Anthony Edwards spoke passionately about passion.  Edwards is currently Sr. Manager of Sustainability, Global Quality, & EHS at Belkin International, Inc.  He recounted his the excitement he felt, seeing his future potential job posted.  He knew that job was for him.  Edwards suggests, “You need to be passionate about what you want to do.   If you don’t have passionate about your career choice you may want to consider if you are in the correct field.  You don’t have to have an engineering background to lead a green initiative.”

Networking. Susanna Kass, a former COO at Ebay, currently a Strategic Advisor and Entrepreneur in Clean Tech, spoke of the importance of networking.  Kass suggests that “education is not sufficient, it’s the networking and who you meet along the journey.”

What she calls networking, is really relationship building.  It’s not enough to just network, but to build that network connection into a relationship.  If I look back on my own employment history, the jobs I did land were the ones where I had a warm introduction to the company.  Of course, it will be different case by case.  Some may win the blind resume draw, but it  won’t hurt to build your network.  Perhaps the old adage, “it’s who you know and who knows you” fits in perfectly.

Skills. We’ve heard the importance of passion and networking.  But what about those offering jobs and internships at the fair?  What were those companies looking for?

Whether it was a local compost company, a tech savvy sustainable start up, or clean tech financial consulting firm, the connecting issues were specific skills.  Some companies were looking for marketing and social networking mastery.  Other companies were looking for folks that knew numbers backwards and forwards.  The most important thing was the skill set to move a given company forward.

It’s interesting to note that passion, networking, and skills on their own have little to do directly with “green” jobs in particular.  By the same token, it may seem that these suggestions to job seekers, especially passion and skills, run contrary to one another.  After all, one could be the most passionate person in the world about sustainability, but not have a clue how to run a company.  Or one could be highly skilled at running the numbers for an eco-friendly company, but have no passion for that company’s mission.

Perhaps it would be apt to find the right balance between the passion in our hearts, the skills in our hands, and the networking of our minds. Networking can get us in the door, but it will be our passion and skill that will keep us in.

Ed. note:  This article has been modified for accuracy since initial publication.

Jonathan Mariano is an MBA candidate with the Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco, CA. His interests include the convergence between lean & green and pursuing free-market based sustainable solutions.

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