Job Searching Tips for New Environmental Grads

Congrats to all of our Class of 2022 grads! Give yourself a pat on the back — you made it. But now, the real work begins. 

Stepping out of the safety net of college with its assigned schedules and academic calendar is daunting. It may feel like you’re supposed to feel all grown up — but you don’t. Not only is the application process exhausting and your confidence not quite where you’d like it to be, you have no idea what this next phase of your life is going to be like. Questions and doubts abound in this transition phase of your life. What if you hate it? What if you accept the job but should have waited for a different one? Rest assured, every graduate has the same feelings.

If you know anyone who is job searching right now, you probably know that the job market is a bit dicey right now. In recent months, many companies have laid off employees, frozen hiring, and stopped extending return offers to interns. If you’re panicking about being on the job search now — take a deep breath. The environmental field is still strong. 

Our industry is expanding rapidly as the urgency to fight climate change increases. Plus, the 2022 workforce is a much different one that just a few years ago, which plays out in your favor. Platforms like LinkedIn have completely changed the networking game and have made it easier than ever to find job postings. Plus, as more jobs decide to remain remote, you might not have to relocate to work at a company on the opposite coast, which only expands your options. 

Common issues job searchers face post-grad:

As much as a university or sustainability program will try, they don’t always prepare you for the “real world” as much as we think they should. Most students face one or more of these three issues after graduation from an environmental or sustainability program:

  1. They do not know what types of jobs are available to them and therefore waste a lot of time trying to blunder through the masses of job postings instead of searching smart and leveraging their network. If this is you, check out the ENVIROlocity™ Explorer tool to see where you can find jobs that match your qualifications and interests.Read more below for more job search tips.
  2. They feel under-qualified for even the entry-level positions they are applying to. We’ve all seen the memes about “entry-level” positions requiring 5+ years of experience. If this is you, remember that volunteering, internships, and unpaid opportunities can count toward those years. Start filling those gaps ASAP. 
  3. They feel so pressured to get a job that they are forced to take the first that they can get, which is often not in an environmental career. Sometimes, they never return to the environmental field. This often comes down to staying motivated and remembering why you wanted to work in this field in the first place.  

What to expect after graduation:

Landing the perfect job may take time.

Many grads expect to land their dream role right out of college. Although this does happen for some grads, this is the exception to the rule. Oftentimes, you think you’ll be getting offer after offer, then you struggle to land interviews. You think you’re going to be doing fieldwork, then 90% of your role ends up being paperwork. You think you’ll finally be able to make an impact, then you get hit with the red tape. 

Although this sounds pessimistic, it’s better to be prepared for the worst than expect the best and end up being disappointed. This isn’t to say that your dream role isn’t out there! It just might take some time for you to get there. Your first role post-grad may not be perfect, but it should be a step in the right direction. 

You may have to make some compromises.

Because the job search can take time, and most people don’t have unlimited cash laying around, you may have to take a job that isn’t your ideal role or maybe your ideal salary. However, there are some aspects of your first role that you shouldn’t compromise. Firstly, you should make sure the company’s culture is supportive and encourages your professional growth. A toxic workplace will not only stifle your growth, but also make you dread coming into your job and might make you resent the industry altogether. 

Secondly, make sure that whatever job you choose aligns with your career goals. If you’re passionate about working with animals, don’t apply for jobs in waste management. It doesn't have to be the perfect dream job, but at least a step in the direction you’re heading. Or, if you do have to settle for that waste management job for whatever reason, don’t give up on looking for the animal jobs you really want. 

Finally, make sure the job works for you logistically. As aforementioned, many recent grads take the first job they are offered just so they can start making money, even if it's not the salary you were hoping for. But are you making enough money to pay rent? (Even if you are, it never hurts to ask for more.) Are you willing to commute an hour every day? On the contrary, are you okay with working remotely indefinitely?

Tips for speeding up your job hunt:

The job hunt will be difficult a lot of the time, but there are steps you can take to make it easier.

It’s important that you know what kinds of roles you’re looking for before you start searching — don’t go in blind. Do you want to work on the field, in a lab, or at a desk? What are you passionate about? Do you have enough education to go into the role you want? 

It’s okay if you’re not sure — most people aren’t at this stage. Honestly, most people go through their career without figuring it out for a while. Check out the ENVIROlocity™ Explorer tool to see how your interests align with a career.

Once you know what role you’re looking for, freshen up on the job search essentials: your resume, LinkedIn profile, and networking strategy. These are the building blocks to a good job search, so make sure your resume is updated, your LinkedIn is clean, and you’ve created a networking plan.

You may think that you don’t have a strong network, but even just peers and instructors from college or a sustainability program can help you. Reach out to those who graduated in your class to see if they have found a job, enjoy it, and can put in a good word for you. It only takes one person to completely flip your job search on its head. 

Finally, it’s important to stay motivated. The job search can take months and it can be emotionally exhausting. If you need support as you’re going through this process, consider purchasing the ENVIROlocity™ Daily Journal to keep your spirits high.


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