Let’s assume thimg0087at you are just starting out, say in your 3rd or final year before graduation and that you know virtually nothing about how to get started.  Actually, this is a question that a lot of students have asked me.  To get you started and to help you figure this out I think that you should arm yourself with reliable and pertinent information and find approach that you are comfortable with.

There are several ways to identify people that you can talk to.  Before actually talking to anyone, I suggest that you do some research and studies to gain a basic understanding of the field, assuming you don’t already know.  Universities and colleges have their own resources to help you select a career and find employment.  Start there.   Look at websites on the internet and do some research.  Look up industry associations, organizations, government ministries, consulting companies, industries and no-government organizations that pertain to the environment.   Make lists and make notes and inform yourself of the various career alternatives.  As you do your research make note of people who you might consider contacting.

Once you have a basic understanding of what an environmental career might look like you can approach some professionals in the workplace and ask them to help you in your career selection.   Not everyone may be willing and/or able to help you but with some persistence you will find some great people who will take the time to help you and answer your questions.   Talking to these people will really help you discover what a career might be like .  Think of yourself as a journalist writing a piece on how to chose a rewarding career in environmental science/engineering.  Remembering the 4 W’s  (“what”, “where”, “when” and “why”) can help you frame your questions.  Once you gain an understanding of what your career options look like you can investigate the “how”.

You might ask some questions like:

  • Why did you chose a career in environmental science/engineering?
  • What career options did you consider?
  • What does a successful career in environmental science or engineering look like?
  • What are the differences between working in different sectors such as government, industry, consulting or academia?
  • What are the differences between office, field and laboratory work?

This is one area that kwikb can really help you out.  We are asking volunteers to write about their experiences and to tell us what their careers are like.  In a future post I will answer these questions about how I selected my own career in environmental science.  Each of these questions, and many more will be answered in future articles on kwikb.com.

It may take you several weeks or months to do your research and get a pretty good idea of what options are possible.  Along the way you probably discovered a lot more questions to explore.   At this time I suggest that you consider something that I call “Vision Planning”.  This a tool/approach that I found really works.  There is nothing really new here and nothing even complicated or difficult.  However, it is framework that really can help you with your decision-making process.  I will write about this in a lot more detail in future posts, but for now, I would offer the following description.

Vision Planning is like goal setting although more than that.  Like the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland:

Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where–” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
“–so long as I get SOMEWHERE,” Alice added as an explanation.
“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”
(Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Chapter 6)

George Harrison put it more succinctly in the lyric of his song “AnyRoad

If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there!

Exactly, if you don’t know what your successful career looks like, it should not matter much how you proceed.  But if you can create a clear vision of what your successful career will be then you can figure out how to get there and pursue your career, and finally then you will hopefully realize your vision, manage your career and enjoy your success.   At KWIKB we have captured this approach in our tagline:

“It’s your vision: create, pursue, realize!” 

  So that’s how I would start my quest to look/select for a career in environmental science/engineering.  Of course there is much more detail that we need to get into for actually going about this.  More on that in future posts.

Please leave a comment if you found this post useful.