If, like millions of others around the world, you have a real passion for the environment and sustainability, there’s never been a better time to consider a career in the industry.
The outlook for environmental policy careers is growing rapidly, with many new jobs created on an almost daily basis due to the rise in sustainable technologies, new energy structure, environmental disasters, and calls for better environmental conservation policies.
It’s no longer the niche market it once was and it’s very much an area of interest in both the public and government eye, meaning careers within the sector are highly sought after and usually require at least a master’s degree.
So, although the job market may be competitive, it’s not impossible. You just need to know how to find them and how to find the right one that suits you.
Narrow your focus and consider what type of worker you are
First of all, you should ask yourself a few questions to find out what type of job you really want and whether it’s something you’re suited for.
As we’ve already said, environmental policy careers are in abundance as they essentially develop and create policies which aim to limit, reduce and prevent any damaging effects and actions on the environment.
If this is something which appeals to you, the next thing to consider is your work personality.
Are you more of a hands-on, practical type of worker, or do you prefer an office-based environment role where analysis and research are your main duties? Are you a team player? How are your communication and interpersonal skills? Are you resilient and adaptable? There are many things to consider as career paths within environmental policy tend to overlap.
Do you want to work in government, or in the private sector for a progressive corporation? Working for a non-governmental organization is very popular thanks to their environmental agendas, but they’re merely one option.
One thing is for sure though - you definitely don’t need to be the outdoor type to pursue a career in environmental policy.
Consider your interests and what you enjoyed studying in your degree
Studying a master’s, such as the International Master of Environmental Policy at Duke Kunshan University, covers a whole range of topics, allowing students to find their own specialist area and area of interest.
You will, of course, need a good working knowledge of current and potential environmental issues on both a local and global scale along with good working business knowledge and management skills.
International Master of Environmental Policy graduate, Julie Mao, is now a full-time Energy Management Consultant at ScottMadden – a leading management consulting firm within the energy sector.
She told us: “As a senior analyst I’m responsible for a lot of qualitative and quantitative analysis, interviews with stakeholders, and putting together deliverables for the client.
“In my four months at the firm, I’ve been on three full projects, and am now going onto my fourth as the project manager which has been very exciting.”
When it comes to considering how her degree and time at Duke Kunshan University have helped get her to where she is today, she said: “My time in the iMEP program contributed to where I am now because of the rigor of the program.
“For example, a few of the most applicable skills I learned was through some of the practical classes in the iMEP curriculum, such as the policy and law class. It had the greatest impact on how I think critically and insightfully due to the hands-on approach of teaching,” she said.
“I wanted to study the iMEP program because I wanted to pursue an interdisciplinary degree that merged my interest in environmental studies and policy.
“It’s also unique in that it allowed me to study in both the US and China. Learning environmental policy in China was fascinating and allowed me to be connected to the environmental issues that plague our surroundings.”
Get as much experience as you can
Your academic career is the ideal time to explore career paths and undertake an internship or some form of work experience. At Duke Kunshan University, for example, International Master of Environmental Policy first-year students can take a summer internship either in the US, China or in another country.
Internships and work experience are a great way to build your industry knowledge, soft skillset and global perspective. They’re also a good way to help you realize what roles you like and what roles you don’t like, making your graduate career search that little bit easier (hopefully)!
Societies and student clubs are also good for developing your interests and passions – something which Julie experienced during her studies. She told us: “The consulting organization I joined and the consulting class I took while at Duke University in Durham in the US helped me refine my ability to talk with stakeholders and interact with clients.”
Network, network, network
No matter what you study or which industry you’re in, it’s important to not let networking opportunities pass you by. Whether it’s your professor, a class colleague or your flatmate, these are the people who can help you realize your potential and offer you an opportunity to help kickstart your career.
Use your university’s career services for professional support and advice
You’re not expected to figure out and find the ideal career all by yourself. It’s a momentous task that takes a lot of time, consideration and research. It’s important to make the most of your university’s career services and facilities as they can help point you in the right direction and even help prepare your CV and interview.