Though this post seeks to address career paths in environmental studies, the insights apply to every career choice. So, welcome, read on, and yes, you need a bowl of popcorn……….. and a pen. Jeez, where is your paper!!!!!
Finding a career path is not something that happens overnight, you know, like, revealed in a trance with specific instructions. While it is easy for some students, it can be quite tricky for a few others depending on the environment where we find ourselves.
But you need to know that this is a realization that happens gradually as we climb the ladder of education, friendships, interests, and exposure. So, don’t be in haste about where you are currently.
It may even be more difficult finding yourself in the environmental sector. Well, what were you expecting, when the environment means the ‘total’ surrounding? There is always the tendency of being a cat in a room full of rocking chairs when faced with the vast dichotomy of career choices in the broad environmental sector.
Environmental management is broad, and the only problem you may have is finding a niche of specialization. The three broad areas of ‘Management’ stem down to Soil Management, Water Management, Biodiversity Management, Energy, Resource management, and other sub-categories.
The beauty of being an environmentalist is that you can merge it with any passion at all!! But before we ply the down road of how to find your specialization of interest. Here is a list. A list of industries that you can fit into as an environmentalist.
- Food Industry
- Manufacturing Industry
- Waste Management
- Energy industries
- Green Architecture
- Public Speaking
- Policy Making
- Digital Market.
Career Development through active participation.
Many factors affect our sense of judgment. While some people may discover what they want to be in the early stages of their lives, others may discover this later. Other factors can also affect career choice – changes in the market, the kind of jobs available, the creation of new job niches, and a combination of niches too.
This means that your career choices may change as you climb the ladder of exposure. But no matter what, any niche you end up in is as lucrative as any other so, don’t let the ‘lucrative factor’ affect your judgment.
What if this is not the Study of your Interest?
Because this blog post is also targeted to some Nigerian students who have been caught up in a panorama of ‘acceptable disappointments,’ I will have to mention this – Some students did not choose to be environmentalists. Their admission into the course a result of randomization and that makes career development even harder.
You are stuck with a study of the environment when the career of your dreams was someone with stethoscopes or white lab coats and handwriting that only your cliques can interpret – godammit if you didn’t get the joke, I’m talking about the doctors and pharmacists.
Well, it doesn’t matter now. Whatever your passion was, you can still pursue that. This time, in a different way, through the environment lol – yeah, you don’t have to get over it like your ex….
“We can do only what we think we can do. We can be only what we think we can be. We can have only what we think we can have. What we do, what we are, what we have, all depend upon what we think. We can never express anything that we do not first have in mind.”Robert Collier.
If you ever think you cannot find fulfillment or be successful in your career as an environmentalist. Then your eyes may not be open enough even when opportunities present themselves. Mind you, the greatest people you know did not sit around to wait for opportunities – they created them – that is not something you can do with a limiting mindset.
Second: Build a Base.
The first and sophomore years as a student are quite the most important for career development. Especially in the Nigerian educational system. These are the years when all the foundations are taught, and I cannot agree less that the following syllables after these two years are mere repetitions and further advancements deep into the basics. Get a good grounding of what the fundamentals are, the jargon, and get a hang on the way things work.
This is also important because you can clearly judge the directions of your inquisitions from here. So, if you ever thought about making your education a side hustle, do well to rethink the first two years of your schooling – especially when you are not even sure about what this ‘main’ hustle is going to be. It will be a better condition to be asking ‘where to go from here’ than an utter ‘had I known’ situation when the two years of your life is already down the drain. Someone once said, “be stingy with your time.”
Third: Find a Mentor.
Who is a mentor? Actually, we have idolized the idea of mentors as humans who will need to sit us down and advise us on every step along the way – that idea is not bad at all!! – But you are seldom going to find such people in this ever-busy world of ambitious responsibilities, especially when the whole human relationship is about given and take.
Bluntly, if you want such a mentor, the type that calls you every time to provide you with career development advice, then you will be paying in one way or the other. One way is in cash through paid mentorship programs or the other through offering value, helping their cause, impressing them with achievements. Which I am going to show you as you read on.
Right now, we are assuming the worst-case scenario, you’ve got nothing of these forms to offer.
You can find inspiration by merely reading the biography of someone else, someone you admire, and thanks to social media, you can achieve that quite easily. When you finally pick interest in a path you want to pursue or just looking for information about several careers, you can access.
There are sites that you can key in Job roles, read people’s profiles to actually see what they have done to be where they are. And even know the kind of industries where they work now. Especially LinkedIn, you get to see the different companies where they worked and what their key roles in the company, the time frame, and the progression.
Sites like Monster has a lot of Job Postings and Job roles. So, you can read job descriptions to know what roles await you in the industry.
Fourth: Career Development through active participation.
Let’s not act like people living in ivory towers of passion here. 😑😑 It is not everyone that has realized what they love to do or how to use what they love to do. And I am not a sheer advocate that your passion is innately in you. Most times, it is something we develop through repeated actions and exposure.
It is priceless to do what you love. Because we have a lot of years to spend ahead of us, the job market is competitive too so doing what you love will give you an upper hand because;
- You will not be tired of its challenges.
- You will realize opportunities when they present themselves and
- You will be an ‘original thinker’ in that niche.
Now you have the basic and general knowledge of your profession. The only way to love this new shoe more is to wear it, not just to see if it fits. But to know how long you can walk with it.
It’s easy to get carried away by the fun of new discovery. But if you don’t actually ‘do’ ‘partake’ ‘indulge’ its relating activities, you may never tell if it is something you want to do. So here are a few ways to wear the new career ‘shoe’ you discovered as an environmental scientist.
Fifth: Career development through Volunteering
There are a lot of organizations looking for volunteers. Personally, I feel volunteer programs are an actual test of your passion for something. Because you are offering value for nothing in return. Well, that is an intuitive lie. Volunteer programs actually teach you a lot in career development. Most of the time, they are your best strategies for acquiring mentors in such a field.
Tip: When choosing volunteer programs, chose those that are related to your course of study or interest. Don’t waste so much time on what doesn’t matter. Remember, direction matters a lot right now, and time is of utmost importance to you, oh everyone.
Here are some websites where you can look for volunteer programs.[co1]
- Volunteering Solutions | Affordable Volunteer Abroad & Intern Abroad
- Engaging Volunteers | VolunteerMatch Blog for Social Change Organizations
- International Volunteer HQ
- Global Volunteers – Volunteer Program Blog
- VolunteerHub Blog – Thought Leadership and Nonprofit Support
- African Impact – Conservation & Community Volunteering
- Build Abroad – Volunteer Blog
- Kaya Responsible Travel
- Khaya Volunteer Projects – Africa Volunteer Programs & Gap Year Projects
- ATMA NGO – Volunteer Experience, Education NGO Accelerators
Most of these websites may not feature volunteer opportunities that are within your locality. But keep your eyes peeled. Once you start reaching out, the opportunities always present themselves.
Sixth: Career development through Internships.
From time to time, companies open up internship roles for students and career prospects to practice their profession. Some can be paid, and some can be unpaid. But either way, your focus here is to gain experience or, as I said, know if this new shoe fits well.
Also, school syllables include internship programs where students are allowed to take a break from the long classes that matiate them into brainy chopsticks to actually put in their knowledge into lessened pen and paper activities.
This is an opportunity you should optimize, really. Internships don’t only give you experience, they allow you to be creative, in ideas, approach, and who know, you can discover a new industry that no one ever thought about. Yeah, I guess it is the same reason why there are so many weird career combinations – you know, like a psychologist working in an oil sector.
Always make sure you take internships seriously. I do know a few people who still work in the place they served as interns. I mean, even after graduation.
Here is a list of Websites where companies post-internship roles. But don’t limit yourself to these. There is absolutely nothing wrong with walking up to the Department of Interest in any company during the holidays to say, “I want to serve as a Volunteer Intern.” Everyone loves free things, and the chances are, they are going to let you. If they don’t, then its just same as getting turned down by your crush – either ways, life always moves on.
- Virtual Internships
- Global experiences
Tip: There are a lot of remote internships you can do from your house, especially for self-motivated jobs like – writing, GIS specialists, analysts, Journalists, Social media managers, etc. You can build your career in the comfort of your home. You can always search for ‘remote intern jobs’.
Seventh: Create a Killer Resume.
In career development as a student. Writing is a skill you should develop before you graduate from school. Especially Essay writing, Resume and CV writing, and Writing Cover letters. Even if you are planning to be self-made, an entrepreneur, or a business magnate, you sure need to know how to present yourself to someone. Your resume goes before you to the concerned body/person. It needs to represent you well. In fact, some of the internship and volunteer positions may require that you submit a CV. Here is a list of resources for this purpose.
Eight: Enrolling for Global Opportunities!!!
Several bodies, NGOs, universities, and companies create platforms for young leaders to interact and show their concern for young minds. Global opportunities give you a boost in your career development as a student. Try as much as possible to include this part in your learning and development goals.
Example. Mandela Washington Fellowship, Millennium Fellowship, Chevening Fellowship. Etc.
This can be fully funded, partially funded, and allows you to meet thought leaders, likeminded people, and other benefits, as will be discussed later in this blog post.
For Global Opportunities, you can Visit;
Benefits of Active Participation.
Here are some of the benefits you should be looking out for when participating in these activities as a student gearing towards career development.
Experience is the first career development as a student. You learn a lot about your industry without having to search the ocean of information online.
You learn about the people you can, work for, what they need, including the professional certifications you need to get there. Just so you know, there are numerous professional certifications in environmental sciences. But school will not teach you about that, neither/or will they teach you how to monetize your certificate. But it is up to you. It has always been up to you, anyways.
Most companies will be looking for 10 years of experience in your sector when you just graduated at 21. Volunteer and Internship experiences let you work with some of the most reputable industries and professionals. It is an overpriced experience and you will want to leverage on that. This gives you credibility when it is time to reach out for real jobs. Don’t just do stuff for career development. Learn, grow, and gain credibility.
Especially when you get global leadership roles. You build your confidence in that niche. You get to see what your mates have done and are doing. And you also get to relate with new friends who share insights. And one of the places you notice this confidence is in your resume and cover letters. You begin to sound more confident when applying for jobs.
I don’t need to talk about this one too much. But, credibility breeds stronger networks. Even when most of these programs are ended, if you did well, they usually get called for tasks and important responsibilities even while in school.
I want to also point out. In the current rush for respectable, reputable, and well-paying jobs, one of the things that matter most is specialization. No one wants a generalist nowadays. So, I feel, the earlier you find/develop/love that singular sector, then the better for your pockets.
Then lastly, no stress. You are just where you need to be until the need to take action comes. And you are the only one to determine when to take that action.
This is time for me to beg you to please leave a comment about something I may have missed. Or a question to help me draft the next blog post. And share this content with anyone who will find this helpful.