Looking at Sustainable Career Choices
We are living at a time of environmental concern. According to the United Nations, we have less than a decade to make changes to prevent the irreversible effects of climate change. As industries are one of the primary contributors to global damage, an area that we as individuals can make a difference is making sustainable career choices.
Crafting your career path in a way that is environmentally and ethically conscious isn’t just a way to reduce your negative impact on the world, either. Aligning yourself with industries, businesses, and colleagues with strong values can also make for a rewarding professional experience. You may even have the potential to contribute to important innovations.
So, what do you consider to be a sustainable career? What should you be doing to put yourself in the best position to find a job that is good for the planet? Let’s take a closer look at some areas for consideration.
A positive result of the COVID-19 pandemic has been a distinct shift toward working from home. Many companies have discovered the various business benefits of this model — lower overheads, increased productivity — and are making the move permanently. Thankfully, remote working is also a more environmentally sustainable approach to day-to-day operations.
Not only do industrial workplaces create a great deal of waste and consume excessive energy, but having a building full of employees travel to the same space to work is also damaging. Commuter transportation is a significant source of greenhouse gases, not to mention that it puts a strain on our consumption of finite fossil fuels. Seeking a career as part of a remote team can be a step toward sustainability.
You can also go further by seeking out a company that has not simply accepted remote operations due to difficult circumstances but has made it a key feature of its business model. This is a good indicator that they have committed to a positive remote culture, and prioritizes sustainable benefits. Remote-specific job sites, such as Just Remote and Flexjobs are a useful avenue to begin your research. However, the efforts for sustainability don’t stop with getting a job. When working remotely, you also need to ensure you’re taking personal steps to make your home workspace sustainable. Install energy-efficient light bulbs, go paperless, and where possible buy used office furniture.
To foster a sustainable career, it’s useful to direct your focus toward industries that are dedicated toward making improvements to the way we live. Markets have begun to emerge that create products that make it easier for the public to exist sustainably. Many of these industries are also altering local infrastructure to help communities function in ways that are less damaging to the planet. Looking at these industries can give you insights into the types of roles that are available, and the skills you’ll need to build to succeed.
The energy industry is one of the more prominent fields of sustainability. As our natural resources become more depleted, we need to embrace alternative sources of energy, and products that use less of it. Careers here can be varied, too — working in energy doesn’t necessarily mean your job will be in an industrial plant! Civil engineers are needed for building wind farms and hydroelectric dams. Installation workers are increasingly in demand to fit solar electric panels and set up renewable electrical infrastructure. Even public relations (PR) professionals are instrumental in encouraging greater public adoption. It’s also worth bearing in mind that just because this is a sustainable industry, it doesn’t mean salaries will be lower. Many positions provide earnings that are above the national median.
Among the most important sustainable industries is agriculture. Many of us are becoming more aware of how our food consumption can have negative effects on the environment, to the extent that we’re growing our own food at home. Yet, considering a career in sustainable agriculture can help us make a wider impact. Agronomists — scientists specializing in crops — are in demand and play a vital role in developing sustainable methods of industrial and small scale farming. Farm management is also popular, taking responsibility for planning responsible land use, and that staff and equipment are utilized in ways that prevent environmental damage.
It will not always be practical for you to direct your efforts to purely sustainable industries. They’re growing, but it may not be practical for your personal circumstances. However, you can still make sustainable career choices in whatever industry you choose to enter. Indeed, it is your responsibility to ensure that the companies you engage with are demonstrating strong ethical and sustainable operations.
It doesn’t always feel this way, but as a candidate, you have a certain amount of power. Studies have shown that Millennials, and Gen-Z who are following them, are making career choices that prioritize issues such as social responsibility. As a result, businesses are starting to get the message that their operations must reflect this in order to attract the talented workers that they need. Before applying for a job, research the company. Use resources such as Glassdoor to learn about the company from its employees. Look into what sustainable business strategies they employ. Check out its website and social media accounts to see what efforts they’re making toward both large projects and their day-to-day activities. Don’t be afraid to email or message them to ask questions.
When you find companies that incorporate sustainability into their key values, it’s also important for you to show that you share this priority. Your resume is a useful tool here. Alongside your professional experience be sure to include voluntary positions that show you have a commitment to improving the environment and the community in which you live. Use your personal description to show how your values complement those of the business. In interviews, ask about their sustainable approach, and how you can be instrumental in helping them develop it further.
Sustainability has become a part of many aspects of our lives, including our careers. However, we need to understand how we can direct our career path in a way that helps us make the best possible impact. Utilizing remote operations, researching key sustainable industries, and being mindful of the companies we engage with can all make a difference.
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