Published: Aug. 27, 2023 By

business meeting

Starting your career search can feel overwhelming, especially if you are planning on pursuing a career in sustainability. Having reliable resources can help you find confidence as you search for the best opportunity for you as a future business professional. These steps can be essential in helping you get started in your sustainable career search.

Think About What You Want from Your Career
When approaching your career search, the first step is always considering what you want from your career. One of the essential questions to ask yourself in this step is, what impact do I want to have? The issues that you want to work on are unique and staying true to the impact you want to have will help you be more successful in your career. Learn more about important issues from biodiversity to diversity, equity, and inclusion and how they impact the business world to gain inspiration.

The next essential part of this step is deciding on the type of role and organization that is right for you. An excellent guideline for this is the Sustainable Careers Matrix created by Katie Kross at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. Would you rather be in a traditional organization or company – a multinational corporation, investment bank, etc. – or would you rather be a part of an organization that has a sustainability-oriented mission? When it comes to your role, would you rather be in a traditional business role involved in finance, operations, accounting, or marketing, or would you rather be in a role that is solely sustainability-focused? Ultimately, this goes back to the impact that you want to have, what you’re skilled at, and what you want to do every day. Keep in mind that any role can have a big impact, regardless of whether it is a more traditional business role or it has sustainability in the title.

Invest in Sustainability Skills
Learning to be a master user of Excel, understand financial statements, and calculate greenhouse gas emissions will set you up for success. Plus, develop an understanding of reporting frameworks, how various functional areas operate in a business, and how to influence people. Some of these skills can be developed with some intensive investment, and others take a lifetime to perfect. Get to work on these competencies that will make you a valuable part of any sustainability team through classes, independent projects, and workshops.

Gold bar section divider

“You will be amongst the business professionals making positive impacts on our world in no time,"

- says Sena Kavi

Build Your Network
Both CESR and Leeds have countless connections that you can reach out to to broaden your sustainability network. With the help of resources such as LinkedIn and conversations with CESR staff about our network, identify professionals that work in the types of roles and companies that you are interested in. Reaching out to those professionals that you identify for informational interviews is one great way to build your network. Simply having a conversation with someone can result in you finding the job that is the right fit for you. Informational interviews can also help you further determine what you want from your career as well as what you want to avoid. See this page from CU Boulder’s Career Services to prepare for an informational interview, and do not hesitate to reach out to CESR, the Career Development Office, or Graduate Career Management for additional career advising and resources. Don't forget to follow #opendoorclimate to find climate professionals who are colunteering to talk with people interested in getting climate jobs. 

Keep Up with the Trends
Staying updated on the current events of areas such as sustainability, natural products, and clean energy is very important, as it can prepare you for interviews and allow you to further explore what issues you are passionate about. For information related to sustainability, use news outlets like GreenBiz and Sustainable Brands, and sign up for the Reconsidered Newsletter for additional news and resources every other week. To dive into the world of natural products, check out the New Hope Network and NOSH, the second of which also has a podcast about the business of natural, organic, sustainable and healthy food. For news on clean energy, follow Canary Media and Utility Dive and listen to podcasts like Catalyst and The Energy Gang. These newsletters, news outlets, and podcasts are all great starting points for you to keep up with the trends; simply listening to a podcast on your way to class or work can go a long way. Find more LinkedIn pages to follow listed in this post or this one.

Utilize Sustainability-Focused Job Boards
Any job search is defined by hours spent on various job boards, sifting through hundreds of job postings. Using job boards that are dedicated to posting sustainable jobs will make your job search much easier. Some of the job boards recommended by CESR are B Work, Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship, Colorado Nonprofit Association, ForceBrands JobsLuke's Circle, Naturally Boulder, Nick at Noon, Nosh, and Second Day. Additionally, CESR’s newsletter always provides a variety of updated job postings; be sure to subscribe to be up to date on opportunities catered for you.

Build Skills and Get Inspired with CESR
CESR offers many events every semester, including panels, bootcamps, workshops, and case competitions. These events are opportunities for you to strengthen your skill set and network, and get inspired for your job search. Our events and programs focus on ESG & Sustainability, natural products, and clean energy. Check out our events page to see what’s coming up.

As you continue on your career search, stay true to your goals and aspirations. Remembering the impact that you want to make, along with keeping up with trends, utilizing sustainable job boards, networking, and attending events to strengthen your skills will bring you closer to the career that you are looking for. You will be amongst the business professionals making positive impacts on our world in no time.