If you care about climate change, it’s easy to think that your only career options are becoming a policy maker in Canberra, front line activist or ice-core scientist. While these career options are great, there are plentiful more ways to have an impact on climate change.
In July 2018, the Melbourne Global Shapers partnered with The Climate Reality Project to host an interactive panel event for students and recent grads who are passionate about making a difference through climate change-related roles. The sold out event with 100 attendees showed the great demand and interest from people who want to use their careers for protecting our planet.
We heard from individuals who shared their journeys on how they landed their climate-related roles, as well as tips for navigating the challenging job landscape.
While our speakers had very different experiences, there were common threads that linked their experiences together. These are the top career tips we learnt:
1. It’s ok to not know what you want to do. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, especially when the people around you seem to have it all figured out. But the truth is — they probably are just as clueless as you are! Take this as an opportunity to explore your options. Find someone you admire and ask them out for a coffee. The worst that can happen is a “no”, but you’ll be surprised at how receptive people can be. Many successful people have had mentors who played a huge role in their career trajectory, and view it as their personal mission to pay it forward.
2. Any experience is good experience. The truth is, our first job probably won’t be our dream job (unless you’re one of the lucky few) — but that doesn’t mean you’ve failed. Treat your career as a lifelong journey, and your experiences as building blocks creating a solid foundation to help you achieve your goals. Our speakers had various gigs seemingly unrelated to their current career (some of which include being a receptionist, nanny, and lifeguard) but all these jobs equipped them with transferable skills to thrive in the corporate environment. You never know when these skills could come in handy, so don’t be too quick to discount the experiences you have.
3. Do not select yourself out of the process. Many people take themselves out of the running before they even try as they think they’re not qualified enough. Employers may be looking for experience, but if you let your passion, attitude and skills shine through, that could be the single most important factor that puts you in favoured standing against other candidates. Apply for jobs, even if you think you’re not qualified for it. The first step in the journey is turning up and throwing your hat in the ring.
4. Do one meaningful thing a week. Job hunting can be overwhelming, and it’s easy to fall into a spiral of procrastination or anxiety when the endeavour seems too huge to handle. Break your tasks into small manageable chunks. It could be as simple as updating your resume, sending an email or asking someone out for coffee. Remember: career and job hunting is a marathon, not a sprint.
5. And lastly, treat yourself. Looking for work — especially as a young person or meaningful work aligned to your passions and values — is a tough gig. Reward yourself with a movie, an ice cream, or a night out with friends when you achieve your milestones.
It was an eye opener to learn from individuals who have all embarked on different, but parallel journeys to help solve our climate crisis. We purposely selected a panel of speakers from very different backgrounds to highlight that there are various creative ways to make an impact on climate change. To view the bios of our speakers, click here (and perhaps even reach out to them — see point 1!).