How to Make the Environment Your Life’s Work
Campuses are natural communities too. Use your time in school to improve environmental conditions. Start a Zero Waste program to recycle all materials back into nature or the marketplace. Create a native xeriscape (low water use) organic garden … and convince your science teacher to give you extra credit for your efforts. Get your grounds maintenance staff to eliminate use of chemical fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides. Help establish an outdoor classroom in a natural area on campus. Find out if your school operations are helping or harming your community’s environment. Run for student council on an environmental platform.
Graduating … What Now?
It happens every spring: College students, facing graduation, begin the job search. For many, this transition is intimidating. They realize their scholarly transcript has not prepared them for earning a paycheck … much less, finding their life’s work. Does this description fit you? Well, fear not.
1. What came naturally to you when you were young … say, in 5th Grade? Did you go exploring on your own? Were you an avid reader? An artist? Were you drawn to animals? Did you organize kids into teams? These were (and still are) innate skills in your personality.
2. In high school and college, did you feel passionately about certain interests or subjects? That’s how it feels to love your life’s work.
3.Do you believe that protecting the environment is important? Your values will guide your choices in the professional world.
What if you could make a great living doing the things you’ve always loved to do, while using your hard-won education? The environmental field is diverse. There are at least 12 professional avenues. Try to match your innate skills, your passion, and your values with the appropriate environmental career. Feel free to choose more than one avenue. This exercise may be your first step on the path to finding your life’s work.
Field Scientist (Biologist, geologist, etc.)
Ask yourself: Do I prefer to work alone or in small groups? Would I enjoy spending my days (and nights) outdoors in all kinds of weather?
Outdoor Adventure, Ecotour Operator
Ask yourself: Do I enjoy leading small and large groups of people to exotic environments? Do I have the business background needed to manage a travel company?
Ask yourself: Am I a “thinker” personality? Would I enjoy working alone most of the time? Do I believe that environmental problems can be solved technologically? Am I willing to work with developers, government officials, and conservationists?
Ask yourself: Am I able to work in a large institution? Can I see myself as a civil servant? Can I work on many issues at one time? Is job security the most important thing to me?
Ask yourself: Do I work well in collaboration with others? Will I enjoy public speaking? Do I seek creative solutions to problems? Am I willing to defend the protection of ecological habitat through design solutions?
Ask yourself: Can I work on one subject for weeks on end? Do I work well on my own? Do I have good technical writing skills? Can I defend my scientific findings to my peers?
Nature/Scientific Artist, Illustrator
Ask yourself: Do I prefer to work alone?Am I willing to submit my artwork to others for comments and make revisions? Am I willing to sacrifice notoriety for the sake of educating others through art?
Ask yourself: Do I prefer to work alone? Do I enjoy doing extensive research? Can I write on a variety of subjects? Do I prefer to write about the outdoors, people, political issues, or science? Can I write in a way that explains difficult subjects to the general public?
Ask yourself: Am I committed enough to the environment to work for less money? Will I enjoy working with groups and the general public? Am I willing to spend lots of time preparing grant applications for funding?
Ask yourself: Could I work with tribes and other ethnic groups? Could I live in distant lands or foreign countries? Could I be a teacher and advocate for people of different cultures?
Ask yourself: Am I able to explain things in familiar terms to others? Do I like to work with small and large groups? Do I enjoy public speaking? Do I enjoy creative expression, such as art,storytelling, plays, and humor?
Law, Law Enforcement
Ask yourself: Do I have the passion to I defend the environment against those who harm natural resources? Am I willing to work in challenging or dangerous conditions? Do I want to write new environmental laws?