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5 Careers English Students Might Enjoy After Graduation

librarianOnce you’ve completed your English course at school, college or university, it will be time to start thinking about what kind of career path would be most suitable given your skills and personal interests. Luckily, a lot of different companies require their staff to have excellent spelling and grammar abilities, so the possibilities really are endless. Still, sometimes it’s a good idea to hear suggestions from other people, which is precisely why I’ve written the article you’re reading today. You obviously want to aim for the best paid position possible, and so the ideas featured before could serve to give you the inspiration needed.

1. Librarian

You might think that working in a library would be a bit boring, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Librarians are responsible for categorizing titles, dealing with loans and placing orders for new publications they know will go down well with their clientele. On top of this, you might be surprised to learn the salary is usually very attractive.

2. Primary School Teacher

If you enjoy spending time with children and helping them to increase their knowledge, becoming a primary school teacher could provide you with all the job satisfaction you’ll ever need. Don’t get me wrong, you’ll need more than a basic English qualification from ECOT to score a job like this, but that’s still a brilliant place to start on this career path. In most circumstances, you’ll need to complete a full three year degree course in a relevant subject, and then enroll on a 12 month teacher training course to hone your skills.

3. Writer / Author

As you’ve spent so long learning how to spell and use grammar properly, it might make sense to capitalise on these skills by becoming a full time writer or author. Selling books is tough, so you’ll need to spend a lot of time researching the markers before settling on the subject of your first title. However, these days you can find well paid work with many of the internet’s top marketing agencies, who are always on the look out for new talent.

4. Professional Editor

You could turn that last idea around on its head and start a career as a professional proofreader and editor. Obviously, you’ll need an impeccable understanding of language to make a success of this, but as many top publishers pay in excess of £30,000 to editors for their most anticipated titles, this role could leave you with enough money to retire early and enjoy the good life.

5. Journalist

Okay, so, every English graduate probably dreams of working at a top fleet street newspaper, right? Well, this goal may not be too far beyond your reach. While there are often thousands of candidates for vacancies in this industry, you stand just as much chance as the next person, so start contacting your favourite companies now to find out about the next round of interviews.

Just remember, your destiny is now in your own hands, so you must to everything you can to make it a fruitful one. And anyway, If all else fails, at least you’ll know how to fill the forms in properly at the jobcentre.

Cheers for reading guys!

Sam Gatt, a UK-based contributor who writes on all things business and career related.

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Does Going to a Trade School Make More Sense than Going to a 4-year College?

trade schoolHave you spent hours looking for the perfect college for you or your son or daughter to attend?

Look at official brochures and websites and you will see descriptions of beautiful campuses, accommodations including game rooms and lounges, pools available for use throughout the semester, exciting experiments possible in a hi-tech laboratory etc., etc.

Do you really want to pay for amenities that you may never use? Is the amount of choice provided overwhelming? Perhaps it would be best to scrap the idea entirely.

Yes, for a moment, put aside your thoughts of which 4-year college to attend and focus instead on the prospect of streamlining your options by considering a technical or trade school.

A trade school may provide you with the skills you need to make a living doing what you love. Trade schools have numerous benefits that differ from those associated with going to a regular 4-year university, and sometimes they lead to careers with better job security.

Have you always had an interest in gardening? You can make a living as a gardener/landscaper going to a gardening and landscaping school.

Trade schools allow you to skip the general education that 4-year universities require. Rather than take general education classes needed to accrue the required number of credits for a 4-year degree, you can dedicate more time to getting hands on experience in your chosen field.

Go to a trade school, and you will get a highly focused curriculum that allows you to develop specific knowledge and skills, from the very general and basic to highly specified and professional. Educational programs are intensive and focused, so students are guaranteed in-depth knowledge that is delivered by professionals with extensive experience in the same field. Trade school students also are encouraged to develop their problem solving skills in ways related to issues that may arise during employment.

Trade school saves time

Most trade school degrees and certificate programs can be completed in less than two years; a much shorter time than the typical four to five years spent at university.

Trade school saves money

Because going to a Trade School saves time, it also saves money. Families in the United States spend on average $32,000 dollars a year on one child’s college education. Multiply that by four and you may emerge as a graduate with years of debt on your shoulders. In contrast, the amount you pay for a trade education is significantly less, ranging from $4,000 to around $30,000 for the entire certificate or degree.

Trade school may provide a greater chance of employment

Getting a four-year college degree will not guarantee you a job upon graduation. Most employers require candidates with education and some experience and established skills that will enable them to hit the ground running within the working community. Depending upon your desired career path, a trade school degree may help you hit the ground running more effectively, more quickly and more economically than will a four-year degree.

Yes, it is true: If you attend a trade school, you will miss out on the “college experience.” But, trade school will provide you with a very intense and focused education in a positive learning environment and can considerably increase your chances of getting a good job upon graduation, all while potentially saving you up to 50% of the money you would have spent on a traditional college education.

“Make today’s efforts pay off tomorrow. That’s what my two-year degree from Porter and Chester did for me. It opened the door to an awesome career and a great future.”

Tony G. (quoted above) got a trade school degree from the Porter and Chester Institute.  He didn’t have much, but that didn’t stop him from doing what he wanted to do – and he thanks his trade school education for much of his success. Trade schools provide a complete and well-rounded education for much less money than and time than what is required to complete a four-year college degree.

Is a trade school right for you?  That depends upon your career goals.  So, be smart.  Do your homework when researching college options.  You just might find that a trade school is the best choice for you. The choice is yours, make it smart.

About the Author

Ray Holder is a career coach. After completing his education from Porter and Chester Institute and working for 15 years in other fields, he now helps people from high school age to those in their thirties and beyond make sound career decisions.

A guide to forging a career as a solicitor

UK-based guest blogger Sam Gatt shares his thought on pursuing a career in law as a solicitor (in U.S. terms …  a lawyer!)

law courtsIf you are based in the United Kingdom, and becoming an astronaut is something that is a little too “out of this world” for you, then you might want to come back down to Earth and consider a career as a solicitor instead.

Whilst these two occupations are seemingly as different as can be, they actually have a number of similarities.

For example, you have to do years of training and pass many exams to be fully qualified in both jobs, and both of these jobs are quite high-level and are aimed at people who are willing to put the time and the work in to achieve a successful end result.

You probably won’t ever get the chance to fly into space if you become a solicitor (well, not unless you’re aboard a Virgin Galactic flight perhaps), but you will certainly have the skill and experience to help people get justice through the legal system! Here is a guide to forging a career as a solicitor.

Why become a solicitor?

OK, so you might have an interest in the legal system but you might be wondering why you should consider becoming a solicitor. Here are a few reasons:

  • Earning potential – whilst it is true that the starting salary of a trainee solicitor can be anything from minimum wage to around £16k a year, fully-qualified solicitors can expect to earn between £25,000 and £70,000 a year working for firms such as Poole Solicitors, whilst partners in law firms could earn a minimum of £100,000 a year;
  • Impressive job title – you can be proud of the fact that you have a prestigious job title, and people will hold you in high regard as you work in such a professional industry;
  • You get to help people – millions of people around the world need the assistance of solicitors to help them fight any legal problems through the courts, and you will be the person that can help many people by helping them fight their cases on their behalf;
  • You get to use your brain – some jobs like data entry clerks are really boring and monotonous as you would often have to type the same sorts of things into a computer on a daily basis. Solicitors, on the other have, are often involved in interesting and diverse cases which requires them to use their intellect in order to seek out the truth.

How do I become a solicitor?

In the United Kingdom, there are three paths that you can take to become a solicitor. The first involves completing a law degree and then a Legal Practice Course and the second involves completing a non-law degree and taking a law diploma

The third involves becoming a member of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives – although you have to be working in the legal profession in order to be considered.

For those considering the law degree path, you will need to have a foundation course such as criminal and contract law, or property law as part of your degree.

You will also need to have five GCSEs between grades A and C, and three A-levels. The Law Society website will provide further information on the specifics of each path.

Moving to the UK from the United States?

For those of you considering a move to the UK from the USA, and you are already a successful lawyer in the state you currently reside in, it might be worth your while speaking with The Law Society in the UK to determine what is involved in getting a job as a solicitor in Britain.

Are Cosmetic Surgery Careers Really A Good Idea?

Cosmetic Surgery

UK-based guest blogger Sam Gatt shares the following advice:

There appears to be a huge influx of talent in the cosmetic surgery industry at the moment, and this is mainly due to the high levels of pay and mostly simply procedures involved. Over the last couple of years, shocking quantities of science and medical graduates have turned to this form of body modification when deciding on the best way to progress their education and career. Still, with so many people getting involved in the industry, could there come a time when it’s impossible to make a good wage from this endeavour?

I mean; the same thing happened with hairdressers a few years ago when colleges around the world started training thousands of students in the role. Unfortunately, this created the situation we face today, where the high streets of our hometowns are filled with hairdressing and beauty businesses unable to make a decent profit because of the sheer amount of competition. Presuming this could happen to body modification specialists, it begs the question; are cosmetic surgery careers really a good idea?

So, over the next few paragraphs, I’ll attempt to reach a conclusion by looking at all the pros and cons of working in this field today.

The Pros Of A Career In Cosmetic Surgery

  • The PayCosmetic surgeons  can earn up to and including half a million each and every year. Although the competition is becoming stiff, this amount looks unlikely to drop to unfeasible levels anytime soon.
  • Job Satisfaction – In instances where you’re performing plastic surgery on someone who’s experienced serious burns or an accident of some kind, you’ll get immense job satisfaction at the end of the day knowing that you are responsible for making that person feel a little more normal.
  • Innovation – Once you’re qualified at a cosmetic surgeon, you’ll be free to create and test your own unique techniques. If you manage to come up with something truly innovative and useful, you could even revolutionise certain parts of the industry.

The Cons Of A Career In Cosmetic Surgery

  • Lengthy Education – Unfortunately, anyone wishing to become a registered cosmetic surgeon will have to undertake a minimum of four to five years training at university, and this can put some people off the idea. However, in a recent survey, only 4% of registered professionals regretted their career choice.
  • Higher Risks – For the obvious reasons, plastic surgeons face an increased risk of malpractice cases, which means you may find yourself defending your techniques in court on more than one occasion. That said; so long as you follow all guidelines, you’ll be covered.

So, you should clearly see that opting for a career in cosmetic surgery is still a very wise move at the current time. This could change in the near future depending on the amount of students enrolling on relevant courses, but anyone considering pursuing this path over the next couple of years shouldn’t experience any major issues. I hope this article will prove useful, and maybe it will have given some of you the inspiration needed to improve your lives.

See you next time!

Sam Gatt
UK-based guest blogger who writes on all thinks business and career-related.  

What can you do with an engineering degree?

UK EngineerHere are some great suggestions from UK-based guest blogger Sam Gatt, a writer on all things business and career related. 

In the UK it’s rather difficult to find well paid work at the moment, so when you finally graduate from university with an engineering degree, you’ll need to put extra effort into researching possible employment solutions. You might not realise it at the moment, but the skills you’ve gained over the last three years are desirable to employers in a wide range of different industries. This means your options are vast when it comes to finding a good job that you truly enjoy with ample prospects for promotion in the future. With that in mind, this article will give you a few ideas that you may wish to research before contacting relevant businesses and asking about vacancies.

So, if you’re due to finish your course this year, spend a couple of minutes reading through the suggestions I’ve made below, and hopefully you’ll be in the best position to find employment in a timely manner. At the end of the day, the quality of work you find will depend heavily on the amount of effort you’re willing to put in, but the jobs listed below will give you some new ideas that could assist you along the way.

Logistics

Most firms that deal with deliveries of any kind will have a dedicated logistics department that deals with ensuring things operate in the simplest and smoothest way possible. The skills you’ve obtained during your degree course will come in very handy in this kind of role, as you’ll be required to create methods and processes in much the same way you would when designing a machine.

Supply Chain Management

Most manufacturing companies will need to employ a professional supply chain manager to oversee production lines, the sourcing of raw materials and manufacturing processes. This means they require people with a logical mindset who are capable of drawing up plans and making sure all requirements are met. In most instances, they look towards engineering graduates because their talents are usually very similar to those needed for successful completion of the role.

Traditional Engineering Jobs

Of course, we mustn’t overlook the type of job you’re been specifically trained for, and so becoming a traditional engineer and working for companies like Fastec Engineering might be suitable. The great thing about this kind of employment is that your days will be varied, as most engineering firms specialise in custom projects for clients all over the world. So, you should never get tired of performing the same old tasks over and over again.

Teaching / Lecturing

Anyone interested in pursuing this form of employment will obviously have to also complete a basic teaching course, but so long as you can afford to stay out of work for an extra year, this could be a great way of giving something back and making a real difference in the lives of new students. The benefits of a role like this are many, but the most prominent is that you’ll spend most of your working life comfortable and warm, which is something that can’t be said for most engineers.

After reading through my suggestions, I hope you now understand a little more about some of the most lucrative opportunities open to you on the UK job market at the moment. That wasn’t an extensive list, and there are many other routes you could take, but I’m sure the ideas presented will serve to point you in the right direction.

Good luck with your search, I’ll see you back here again soon!

Sam Gatt

What tools do welders need?

Welder-011Ben from the Lamar Institute of Technology asked:

Can you point me to the right tools most commonly needed for welders. I have a hood, gloves, half round file, leathers, goggles, glasses, adjustable T-square, tip cleaners, folding rule, and tool bucket. What else do I need?

Hi Ben

I have to admit, welding is not my area of expertise, but your question gave me the opportunity to show how easy it can be to find information while looking for a job when you know where and how to look.

A basic Google search

I googled your question.  A lot of useless info came back to be sure, but the following news release came up, as well:

What Are The Basic Welding Tools For Welders?

The information is a little old, but it is sound.

It is amazing how valuable the most simple of searches can be.  Not always, of course, but often.

Company and Industry Discussion Forums

The news release mentioned above was produced by a company in the welding industry, so I searched for more companies and found some company and industry discussion forums that proved very valuable.  One offered a good reminder that you have to make sure you are asking the right questions if you want valuable answers.  The following response was very enlightening:

An Iron Worker Welder will carry much different tools than a Machinist Welder, and an Aerospace Welder will carry no tools. You need to be more specific with your questions.

Check out the Welding Design and Fabrication Discussion Forum and company discussion forums, like Miller Electric’s MillerWelds that answers the question  What tools should one own as an apprentice welder fabricator?

And, finally – check out YouTube

I found the following very helpful video: The 10 Must Have Hand Tools of Every Welder

Hope this helps!

matt-signature

What can I do with my major?

Crossroads1I get a lot of “Ask the Coach” questions asking essentially the same thing:

What can I do with my major? 

This can be very easy or very difficult to answer, depending upon your major.

If you are majoring in accounting, chemical engineering, social work, architecture, or any other field that tracks directly toward a specific professional, you have at least one possible answer to that question.

If you are majoring in a foreign language, any of the liberal arts, or many of the natural sciences and social sciences, you have a wide variety of possible answers.

If you in your senior year and have just discovered that you do not want to work in the area of your undergraduate major, you have a lot of options to consider, and you are probably a bit frustrated and scared.

What should you do?  Here are a few things to consider.

Many people with college degrees work in fields NOT directly related to there undergraduate major

Not working in a field related to your major is NORMAL.  It certainly is easier to look for work when you are an accounting major looking for a job in accounting, but that doesn’t make it better.  Take a look at the new Education section on LinkedIn.  (If you’re looking for work and your are not on LinkedIn . . .  what are you waiting for?)  Search your school’s alumni by major and you will see that you have a lot of options. For example, I went to the State University of New York at Oswego and studied communication.  Look at the “Where they work” and “What they do” columns below.

Surprised by the variety?  You shouldn’t be. If you limit your search to those opportunities that are directly related to your major, you are really limiting your options.

Oswego

You major does not define you

You are not an English major,  you are a student who happens to be studying English.

You might call it semantics.  I call it a big distinction.

Defining yourself by your major is self-defeating. It says “I can only do things that people similarly educated do.” It tells potential employers that the only thing they need to know about you to consider you for a job is your major; nothing else matters.

I don’t mind saying . . .  THAT”S CRAZY!

What you offer potential employers is the grand collection of education, skills, experience, qualities, characteristics, gifts, talents and passions that make you who you are.  And, you are a lot more than just a major.

But there is a catch . . . .  (there’s always a catch) . . .  .

You have to help employers understand what you offer and what you want

Even when you are majoring in a clearly definable professional field (e.g., architecture), you still have to help employers understand who you are, what you are looking for in a job, what you offer in qualifications, why you want to work for their company, and why you want to work in their industry.

If you can’t explain who you are, what you want and what you offer to employers, how do you expect them to figure you out?

Answer:  They won’t!

You must be curious, ask questions and explore your options

If you are going to ask the question – what can I do with this major? – you had better be ready to look for answers.  If you want to consider your options, you have to be willing to explore those options.  Be curious!  Let your knowledge of yourself, your interests and your talents guide your exploration.

If you are really into sports, what industries, business, non-profits, etc. focus on sports.  Not everyone who works in sports in an athlete. Where might you fit in?

Likewise with arts & entertainment:  Not everyone who works in the arts is an actor, sculptor, artist or musician.  What roles exist in arts and entertainment that allow the artists to create? Again, where might you fit in.

If you haven’t explored your career options, you are in no position to complain you don’t have any career options.

You must be realistic

Understand this – you will not live in a big house, drive an expensive car and vacation in exotic locations on a school teacher’s salary, unless you marry well, win the lottery or have a trust fund.

No matter how badly you would like to be a teacher and earn a six-figure income, those two concepts are largely incompatible.

As you explore your career options, be realistic.  Look at jobs and career paths that are compatible with your needs and lifestyle expectations. Not doing so will be very frustrating for you and everyone who might offer you job or be willing to help you look for a job.

You should seek help

Why try to answer the What can I do with my major? question on your own?

Chances are, your college has people and resources that can help.

For example, the California State University Chico Career Center has an excellent  What can I do with my major? page and career center advisors who can help you navigate your options.  Likewise, St. Norbert College’s Career Services office has a  What can I do with a major/minor in . . . ? page on their website, and helpful career center staff.

Get help!  And, start with the career center on your college campus.

What can you do with your major? What can’t you do with your major? You’re not going to become a brain surgeon by studying sociology, but if you really explore your options, you will find they are many, but the answers don’t always come easy.

Good Luck,

matt-signature

I want to work in Environmental Consulting

earthEmily Gallagher, a freelance writer, compiled the following information for PM Environmental, an environmental engineering firm. The original post can be found on the PM Environmental website.  Emiliee has given me permission to reprint it here.

PM Environmental discovered that many students express interest in environmental consulting careers, but that there wasn’t much practical information available about what a career in this environmental consulting looks like. With that in mind, Emiliee asked some successful environmental consulting professionals about their thoughts on career paths, advice on classes, starting positions and much more.   Their responses are below.

If a student were looking to get into environmental consulting, what courses should they focus on and what skills should will be most valuable in the industry and most important in helping them succeed?

It depends what type of consulting they are interested in. The environmental sector is really broad, and is probably going to continue to spread into different areas in the future. Clean Tech, Supply Chain, Environmental/Green Design, Sustainable Business Practices, etc. all have different areas of expertise; but, in general I would say focus on the hard skills (math, science, design, engineering, environmental economics, etc.) that pertain to your area of interest. These are more marketable, are likely going to pay more, and are more difficult to learn/master once you are out of a college environment.

A. Lauren Abele
COO, Pipeline Fellowship

Students looking to enter the environmental consulting industry should do their research and determine what aspect of environmental consulting they are interested in making a career.  If environmental due diligence (i.e. Phase I ESA, Phase II ESA, etc.) is the area  students wish to get into, students should focus on environmental policy, environmental chemistry, geology/hydrology, and writing courses. Most courses are not going to cover the basics of writing a Phase I or Phase II ESA, however, if you have a good background in the policy and science involved, you will stand out as an applicant and consultant. 

Kristin Dawkins
Staff Consultant, PM Environmental

The environmental due diligence consulting that we do at AEI is primarily related to helping people evaluate property for the presence of contamination – it’s a bit like environmental detective work.  Environmental history plays a role in understanding how land use can affect property with legacy issues.  Geology and hydrogeology are important in regards to subsurface sampling and remediation of soil, soil vapor and groundwater.  GIS and geography can help with the presentation of the information that we gather.  One of the most important skills in environmental consulting, in my view, is the ability to take complex information and present it in a well-written, easily understandable format for the layperson.  Conducting research and preparing written findings of your research is one of the most important skills you gain during your studies.

 Holly Neber
President and a Principal at AEI Consultants

There are many branches of environmental engineering. Examples include water (potable) and wastewater plant construction, operations and management, infrastructure impact planning, mining operation amelioration, energy conservation, etc. Other aspects include helping governments in the US and overseas develop environmental legislation and regulations for industrial, commercial and residential polluters or those industries that specialize in pollution cleanup.

In addition to technical courses, students should take a foreign language, economics, accounting or finance, political science/government, sociology and writing because consultants are required to be conversant with a range of issues and comfortable communicating with diverse groups of stakeholders.

Carla Sydney Stone
Founder & Principal, International Development & Technical Assistance, LLC

Earth science, biology, chemistry, and public policy. Learn to write an intelligible report, unlike what engineers tend to crank out. Read “The Elements of Style” by Strunk & White, or some other such manual.

Bob Carlson
President, Green Knight Environmental

LEED AP – then work on energy modeling and audits that show how to pay for improvements.

Chuck Lohre
Green Cincinnati Education Advocacy

If there were such a thing as a “typical career path,” what would it look like?

Internship, associate, manager, director….I’d say that the corporate ladder in the environmental sector is much the same as anywhere else. Which sector you are working in will dictate a bit of how that path looks, and many people in the environmental field cross sectors throughout their career.

A. Lauren Abele
COO, Pipeline Fellowship

A typical career path starts out with an internship or entry level consultant.  The next step depends on the specific type of consulting and the company you are working for.  You may transition to a project manager and find that is best for you, or you may have management opportunities and find that is the career path for you.

Kristin Dawkins
Staff Consultant, PM Environmental

In the environmental due diligence field, people generally start out assisting with field work or research under the guidance of a Project Manager.  They then grow into a Project Manager role where they are responsible for all aspects of the project.  Over time, they can progress towards more senior roles such as managing teams of Project Managers and providing technical expertise and working with clients directly.

Holly Neber
President and a principal at AEI Consultants

In an entry level position, what types of tasks and responsibilities should a student expect to take on?

Sector (public, private, or nonprofit) and business size (large, medium, small) will play a large role in terms of what types of tasks and responsibilities an entry level employee will be faced with. In general, larger agencies tend to have more structured roles, opportunities, and larger budgets. Smaller companies and nonprofits tend to have more diverse needs, less structure, and less disposable income. Both of these can have pros and cons, depending on what your goals and needs are. I would say that after looking at sector and business size, the next variable is your manager or managing team. These people, and their working styles, will usually play a big role in terms of what responsibilities will be delegated to you and/or how open your managing team is to you taking initiative as a new hire.

A. Lauren Abele
COO, Pipeline Fellowship

Entry level tasks will focus on learning and building on various aspects of the area of consulting you have chosen.  The training period can vary, and within our company the first year is considered your training period. You will help with research, site visits, information gathering, report writing and preparation, and client communications. All of these will build on each other and as you become more skilled, the projects you are working on will increase in difficulty. As an entry level employee, you should take this time to ask questions and absorb as much information as you can from senior staff members because you will be able to apply all of that information to future projects.

Kristin Dawkins
Staff Connsultant, PM Environmental

Example tasks would be conducting site research at local agencies or conducting soil or groundwater sampling at the site.

Holly Neber
President and aPprincipal at AEI Consultants

Most beginning engineers are assigned to a mixture of duties and projects that will teach them the basics of the industry in which they have chosen to work. They will hone their skills as mining engineers, dam designers, energy auditors, etc. They also may be asked to take some accounting or finance courses if they have not done so as undergraduates to prepare them for preparing budgets or capital justifications. They may be asked to go into the field to conduct environmental assessments. In most cases, the work, while interesting, is not glamorous. They may spend several years as part of a team conducting a survey of the water and geological resources in a site scheduled for development.

Carla Sydney Stone
Founder & Principal, International Development & Technical Assistance, LLC

Grunt work, carrying gear around, helping more senior staff finish reports.

Bob Carlson
President, Green Knight Environmental

What kinds of varying positions / jobs / experiences should a new hire seek out to become well-rounded as an environmental consultant and make them marketable in the industry?

In environmental work, I would say seek out projects/jobs/roles that allow you to flex some of those skills (math, science, design, engineering, sales, networking, legal work, etc)–especially skills that you can quantify and talk about in a resume. Project management, which many young environmental professionals do, can be a bit vague. It can be a hard sell. You should learn to back that up with either technical skills (that you can demonstrate you have used at work) or soft skills (Are you a good networker? Do you write really professional emails? Can people refer you to others?). Word of mouth, and having a great network, are really important in the professional world. Of course, in order for your network to work for you, you also have to be good at what you do.

If you want to work abroad, you should definitely spend several months in that area–either as a volunteer or in a paid capacity. If you want to work in or with a country that speaks a foreign language, you should also speak that language.

Working in different sectors–maybe even all of them–would also be great. Unlike other industries, environmental issues cross all three sectors. Having experience working at a non-profit, government agency, and for-profit will give you insider knowledge about culture and operations of each of these types of businesses. It can also be very attractive on your resume, depending on what a particular job is looking for.

For me, when considering potential hires for entry level positions at a social venture start-up, these two main things have popped up as “issues”: (1) This person does not have the hard skills and/or experience we need for this specific project and (2) This person does not have the soft skills we need for someone to be a part of our team (they are a bit awkward, don’t feel comfortable networking, their emails are a bit odd and unprofessional sounding). These soft skills will not be taught in school, you kind of have to learn by doing… and the earlier you start, the better.

A. Lauren Abele
COO, Pipeline Fellowship

Internships are valuable experiences and stand out on a resume and application. If you know your career path early in your college career, you should seek out internships with similar skills. As we all know, you do not necessarily know what your career path will be until your last year in college or even after you graduate. However, internships are still very important and will provide you with valuable skills that you will be able to apply to a future career. If you are unsure of your future path in the environmental industry, seek out a range of internships that include field work, data collection, report writing, etc. Any of these can be applied to an environmental consulting career.

Kristin Dawkins
Staff Consultant, PM Environmental

Conducting Phase I Environmental Site Assessment research is a good place to start because you get exposed to the regulatory oversight agencies and reviewing the other phases of work that often occur (Phase II investigations and remediation projects).   However, it is a mistake to think of a Phase I position as an entry-level job.  Phase I ESAs can be very complex, depending on the type of site you are evaluating.  If you can work under the guidance of a top notch Phase I Project Manager, you will gain a great skill set and a well-rounded view of the overall industry.   Joining a Subsurface Investigation department as an entry level person can also be helpful in terms of understanding typical contaminants and how they behave in the subsurface of a property.

Holly Neber
President and a Principal at AEI Consultants

Study federal and state regulations and local industrial history.

Bob Carlson
President, Green Knight Environmental

What differences are there between working for a large (national or international) environmental consulting firm compared to a smaller, regional one?

For starters: bureaucracy. Larger companies have much bigger food chains, and rely more heavily on bureaucratic processes to get things done. Smaller companies have more of an opportunity for a more democratic or “flat” hierarchical structure–but that is not necessarily always the case.

Second, opportunities and/or requirements for travel and professional development will likely vary between the two.

Third, benefits–and that could go in either direction. Environmental companies tend to be a bit more socially-minded and often offer great “quality-of-life” benefits, but that is really dependent on company culture.

A. Lauren Abele
COO, Pipeline Fellowship

Smaller firms typically allow their staff to “wear more hats” which allows for more variation in your job responsibilities.  If you join a growing smaller firm, there is often more opportunity to advance to levels of more responsibility quickly.  A larger firm may offer more opportunity to work on extremely large or complex remediation jobs or the ability to work internationally.

Holly Neber
President and Principal at AEI Consultants

Larger international or national environmental consulting firms, or the environmental divisions of a large construction or international development firm may work on larger projects in more locations. Smaller firms tend to work locally or partner as subcontractors to larger firms for a piece of a large contract, foreign or domestic. The contract manager usually comes from the larger firm. I am an international consultant who has been a project manager as well as a subcontractor to large multinational corporations.

Carla Sydney Stone
Founder & Principal, International Development & Technical Assistance, LLC

Large tends to be more for big or quick spill cleanups under EPA oversight; small tends to be more geared towards local conditions such as endangered species, watershed issues, etc.

Bob Carlson
President, Green Knight Environmental

If you had one piece of advice for a student looking to get into a career in environmental consulting, what would it be?

Develop your professional skill-set as quickly as possible. Get networking. Everyone hates it, but there is no substitute for it.

A. Lauren Abele
COO, Pipeline Fellowship

Do your research. Self evaluate your skills and match those with an aspect of environmental consulting that is consistent with those skills.

Kristin Dawkins
Staff Consultant, PM Environmental

When you get your first job, be a hard worker.  Show your company’s management that you are up to any challenge.   Opportunities will open up to you from there.   Internships are also great.  We’ve hired a few people that originally worked for us as interns.

Holly Neber
President and a Principal at AEI Consultants

Technical advice: Water – access to clean water and the reuse of process water and waste water- is the single most important issue affecting the world today. Life does not exist without water.

Personal advice: Learn to write well and to be comfortable speaking with people of different backgrounds.

Carla Sydney Stone
Founder & Principal, International Development & Technical Assistance, LLC

Get a job with a government agency first for the experience. Stay there if you can.

Bob Carlson
President, Green Knight Environmental 

Based on your experience, what are the most surprising or unexpected elements about working in environmental consulting?

In general, it’s less about what I learned in school, and more about how well you do the job. But, I always love how often I get to use economic principles in my job and use project design skills from school when analyzing impact.

A. Lauren Abele
COO, Pipeline Fellowship

The most surprising aspect of environmental due diligence is the standardization of the process. Although every state has their own regulations, I have had experience completing Phase I ESA reports throughout the eastern and southeastern United States because of the standardized process.

The most unexpected element is the number of industries you will encounter and the manufacturing processes you will have an opportunity to observe.

Kristin Dawkins
Staff Consultant, PM Environmental

Every state has a unique regulatory environment so working in Michigan can be quite different from working in Illinois, even on the same type of project.

Holly Neber
President and a Principal at AEI Consultants

The most surprising aspect of environmental consulting is the extent to which projects are subject to politics, both in the US and abroad.

Carla Sydney Stone
Founder & Principal, International Development & Technical Assistance, LLC

Congress yanking funds from programs.

Bob Carlson
President, Green Knight Environmental

Not wanting to study to pass the LEED AP exam and then go on to work on projects.

Chuck Lohre
Green Cincinnati Education Advocacy

What do you find to be the most rewarding aspect of your career?

Essentially being my own boss and being really creative and strategic about solving social and environmental problems.

A. Lauren Abele
COO, Pipeline Fellowship

The most rewarding aspect of my career is the ability to be a resource for our clients.  We have clients that are just as knowledgeable as we are, and we have clients that have never even heard of environmental due diligence. I am able to provide valuable information to clients on both ends of the spectrum, and in between.

Kristin Dawkins
Staff Consultant, PM Environmental

I love working with our clients to find solutions to environmental issues, and I love building a collaborative team with my co-workers.

Holly Neber
President and a Principal at AEI Consultants

The most rewarding aspect of my career is the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of people around the world.

Carla Sydney Stone
Founder & Principal, International Development & Technical Assistance, LLC

Doing public education. It’s amazing how concerned but uninformed people still are about all this stuff.

Bob Carlson
President, Green Knight Environmental

 

It’s the future.

Chuck Lohre
Green Cincinnati Education Advocacy

Biographies of Respondents

A. Lauren Abele
COO, Pipeline Fellowship

Prior to her involvement with Pipeline Fellowship, Lauren worked in the nonprofit sector in economic development, environmental issues, and women’s empowerment. A long-time sustainability advocate, Lauren has analyzed the Kyoto Protocol with the U.S. Department of State in Brussels and worked on environmental projects in both Spain and Australia. Her interest in social and environmental issues led to her involvement in social entrepreneurship where her focus has been on strategic planning, social impact assessment, and executing mission-based business strategies.

She currently serves on the New York Women Social Entrepreneurs (NYWSE) Events Committee and is a former Young Nonprofit Professionals Network of New York City (YNPN-NYC) board member.

Lauren has a B.A. in English Literature and Environmental Studies from Washington University in St. Louis and an M.P.A. in Economic Development and Comparative & International Affairs from Indiana University’s School for Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA). She is also a proud School for International Training (SIT) alumna. You can find Lauren on Twitter (@laurenabele).

www.pipelinefellowship.com

Holly Neber
President, AEI Consultants

Holly Neber is President and a principal at AEI Consultants, a national environmental and engineering firm headquartered in the San Francisco Bay Area.  AEI performs environmental and engineering due diligence, investigation and remediation projects with 14 offices located across the US.  Holly’s educational background consists of a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies from the University of Kansas and a Masters of Education from Holy Names College.   She is a Registered Environmental Assessor (REA) in California, and oversees the day to day operations of AEI.  AEI’s website is www.aeiconsultants.com

Carla Sydney Stone
Founder & Principal, International Development & Technical Assistance, LLC

Ms. Carla Sydney Stone is the founder and principal of International Development & Technical Assistance, LLC, a firm that delivers projects that improve people’s lives. It provides consulting services to companies, non-governmental organizations, and government agencies. Ms. Stone has a proven ability to initiate and build international partnerships to achieve results. A mining engineer, with additional training and certificates in water and wastewater operations, she also acts as a consultant to governments on the critical areas of environment, human capability, and resource management. She has considerable experience in developing, managing and implementing training programs, project management and public information programs for stakeholder support.

Carla Stone is a graduate of Columbia University’s (New York) Henry Krumb School of Mines with a B.S. degree in Mining Engineering, Geophysics Option and M. S. degree in Mining Engineering and Mineral Economics. She also holds certificates in Wastewater III (Delaware) and Water Operations (Delaware). She is a Member of the Board of Directors of People to People International, Delaware Chapter, a Past Member of the Board of the World Trade Center Institute Delaware, and serves on the International Council of Delaware. She also is a member of the Water Environment Federation, the Society of Mining Engineers, Society of Women Engineers, and the Project Management Institute. She has been Chair of the Council of Economics of the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical and Petroleum Engineers. She also served as Economics Committee Chair for the Delaware Delegation to the White House Conference on Small Business.

Kristin Dawkins
Staff Consultant, PM Environmental

Bob Carlson
President, Green Knight Environmental
http://rlcarlson.wordpress.com/

Chuck Lohre, LEED AP+
Green Cincinnati Education Advocacy

http://www.green-cincinnati.com

In 2007 we started to promote LEED by holding afternoon seminars as forums for prominent LEED pioneers to address the community of architects, engineers, contractors and the public. From there we started to volunteer with the Cincinnati Regional Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council and helped develop their web site and trade show exhibit materials. Promotion doesn’t come without education and we registered our offices as a LEED CI project as well as Chuck Lohre passing the LEED AP exam. After developing educational materials for the Fernald Preserve Visitors Center we created classes to help individuals pass the LEED AP exam with one-on-one mentoring and tutoring. With the push to achieve LEED AP status by June 30, 2009, several classes were held. A unique aspect of the classes was actual tours of many regional LEED projects. We received LEED Platinum May, 5, 2011 on our office.

 

An Open Letter to College Students and Your Parents! (2013)

long journey

Labor Day is past. Summer is over.

Freshmen are nervous as they experience firsthand just how different life as a college student is from their life in high school.

Seniors are beginning to contemplate life after college.

Most sophomores and juniors are just glad they are not freshmen or seniors!

Parents of seniors are wondering what their blossoming adults are going to do when they graduate, whether or not they are going to be able to get a job, and when they are going to start paying their own bills.

Please don’t ask to move back into my house,  they think quietly to themselves.

What about those seniors?  Surely, with all the money they have invested in their education, these soon-to-be graduates should be able to get jobs, right?  That’s the next logical step, isn’t it?  The university is providing the education; it should also provide a direct path to that first job out of college, right?  And that job had better pay enough (regardless of the field) so that they can afford their current lifestyle!  That’s the way it should work, isn’t it?

Unfortunately, unless you pursuing a degree that directly tracks into a talent-starved field (engineering, accounting, and many of the other Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM) related majors) that’s not usually the way it will work for most students.

Finding a job – particularly a job you will like and that will match your skills and interests – is a process.  Like any process (for example, training for a marathon), it requires planning, personal accountability, discipline and focus.

It takes a lot more than “want to” to get a job after college.  It takes planning and action.

It’s easy to say “I want a good job when I graduate.”  It’s hard to define what that means to you. And it takes planning and action to get that job.

Your career services office can’t get you a job, but they can help you get a job.

With the new academic year underway, I want to take an opportunity to share with new and returning college students (and your parents) the following quick summary of what your college career services office can do, can’t do, will do, and won’t do to assist students in making the transition from the college to career.

What Career Services Can and Cannot Do For You

Career Services staff can market their services to students and encourage them to take advantage of the career services available, but they cannot force students to use career services.

You’ve heard the old saying: You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. Well, most college career services offices provide a broad range of career services, but they cannot force students to use these services.  They offer services that are relevant to students at all stages of their education, so career services is relevant to all students.  Your college career advisers are ready to help you. All you have to do is ask!

Career Services staff can help students explore and evaluate their career and employment options, but they cannot place students into specific jobs.

It sure would be nice (and would certainly be easy) if students could walk into their college’s career services office just before graduation and choose a job from a variety of opportunities prepared exclusively for them.  Unfortunately, getting a job is not like ordering dinner or shopping for a new outfit.

By law, career services staff cannot select candidates or make hiring decisions on behalf of employers; employers have to make these hiring decisions themselves, and that means students have to be prepared to apply for jobs and present their qualifications in interviews.

I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want someone else choosing a job for me; I would want to be a part of that process.  Students, get involved in the process – it’s your life, after all!

Career Services staff can build recruiting relationships with employers, but they cannot force employers to come to their campuses or recruit for the types of jobs students want.

Employers recruit on college campuses when they need to. If an employer can generate a sufficient number of qualified candidates for their job opportunities without physically coming to campus, they usually won’t come to campus. And, employers that do recruit on college campuses do not typically go to all college campuses, recruit to fill all types of positions, or recruit across all majors.

“Bulk employers”  – big national and multinational companies that need large volumes of candidates to fill large volumes of target vacancies – are the bread and butter of on-campus recruiting.

Lastly, on-campus interviewing is not the only tool employers use to recruit entry-level talent from colleges and universities.  As a job seeker, your job is to understand the hiring dynamics of the industries you wish to enter and adjust your job search strategies to those dynamics. Your career advisor can help you do this!

Career Services staff can help students identify and pursue jobs that match their skills and interests, but they cannot do so if students can’t (or won’t) identify their skills and interests.

This is the toughest part!  In order to find a job you will like and that will match your skills, experience and other qualifications, you have to spend some time identifying and articulating your likes and dislikes and your skills and interests.

If you can’t describe your likes and dislikes or identify your skills and interests, how will you be able to know when you find a job that is compatible with them?  By the way – this usually isn’t an easy process, and it does take time, so don’t wait until the end of your last semester to get started.

What Career Services Will and Won’t Do

Career Services staff will advise and assist students in planning and crafting effective resumes and critique drafts of resumes, but will not write resumes for students.

Sorry, they can’t do this work for you.  Most career service offices have resume writing resources, resume samples  and advising services available, but you really should prepare your resume yourself.  All resume formats are not created equal, so don’t just download and use the first resume template you can find. What might make sense for an engineering student probably doesn’t make sense for an advertising student.  There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all resume. Your resume is a marketing document. Treat it like one!

BTW- Regarding that “$39.99 Resume Writing Service” you found online . . .  you get what you pay for!

Don’t waste your money.  You can find good resume writing assistance online, but it won’t come cheap.

Career Services staff will help students understand and evaluate the pros and cons of different job opportunities, but they will not tell students which job offers to accept or reject.

Want help understanding the various advantages and disadvantages of different job opportunities? Want to know what questions to ask?  Want an unbiased perspective of your options?  Ask your career adviser.  Your career adviser doesn’t have a vested interest in which option you select. She just want you to make sound and informed career decisions; good decisions for you!

Career Services staff will contact employers on behalf of all students, but we will not contact employers on behalf of individual students exclusively.

Sorry, your career adviser is not your personal job search agent.  Career advisers won’t contact employers with your resume trying to convince them that you are a great candidate worthy of consideration.  They work on behalf of all students at your institution. They do a lot of employer relationship building in order to make employers aware of the recruiting services they offer and the talents and qualifications their students possess.  They reach out to a lot of employers, and a lot of employers use their recruiting services, but you have to apply for jobs, and you have to close the deal.

Career Services staff will help students evaluate whether or not graduate school makes sense as a next career step, but will not tell students whether or not they should go to graduate school.

“The job market still stinks, I think I’ll go to grad school to wait out the economy” is a lousy reason for going to graduate school, particularly if it is your only reason.

The grad school decision is an important one, and one you should not take lightly.  What do you want to study and why?  Where are the best programs of study in that field?  How will the graduate degree make you more marketable to employers?  What types of employers will find you more valuable with a graduate degree?   These are all really important questions.  Your career adviser can help you answer them.

A graduate degree, in and of itself, is not going to make you more desirable to employers.  It will not necessarily mean that you will earn more than someone with just a bachelor’s degree.

The decision to go to graduate school is a big one; career advisers can help you make a good decision because, again, they don’t have a vested interest in whether or not you go to graduate school.  They just want you to make good decisions; informed and sound decisions that makes sense for you.

Okay, enough of the heavy stuff.

The start of a new school year is full of excitement, energy, uncertainty and hope!  There is no place on earth as vibrant as a college campus at the start of the fall semester – everything feels possible; almost everything is possible.

Turning those possibilities into reality takes a lot of work, perseverance and intent.  It doesn’t just happen.  (Okay, sometimes it does, but people sometimes win the lottery, too!)

When it comes to exploring and pursuing your career options, connect with your College Career Services office.

Good Luck!

Matt Berndt
The Campus Career Coach

A Final Note:

I first wrote this blog post in August 2010 and have been updating and re-posting annually at the start of the  fall semester ever since.  The concepts and advice are timeless.  The need for students to be actively engaged in their own career planning and management is greater now than ever before.  And, the responsibility of colleges and universities to provide students both an education and career preparation is cannot be ignored. 

If your college doesn’t have a career services office that provides the support and assistance outlined in this blog, share it with your school’s president and ask why?

How can I have a luxurious lifestyle and not give up my personal life to my job?

luxuryJoseph from the University of North Florida asked:

I am majoring in International Business and French, and I am just beginning to explore careers. I know  there is a lot of options, and I just want to get as many answers as I can as to which careers will  best suit someone like me.  

I want to travel. I don’t want to be stuck in one place, but I also don’t want to actually move my things. I want a job with opportunity to move up and one that pays a lot. I want a job that will allow me to have a luxurious lifestyle without having to give up my personal life. What do you suggest?

Hello Joseph –

Big question!  In essence, you are asking:  How can you do what you want, get paid a lot of money and not make any sacrifices?

My answer:  Win the lottery, marry well, or get someone to set you up with a trust fund!

I know that answer might sound a bit harsh, but every career decision (every life decision, for that matter) involves some amount of compromise and sacrifice.

You need to determine (for you!) what compromises and sacrifices you are willing to make in your career in order to have a life that is personally and professionally rewarding.

Expensive taste requires a large income – Happiness does not

I’m not being critical here, I am just making a simple observation:  If you want to be able to afford a luxurious lifestyle, you will have to focus your job search on jobs and career paths that pay well.

You are not going to be an international aide workers and make a six- or seven-figure income!  Typically, people do not make a lot of money without a lot of hard work and sacrifice in well paying fields.

People who want to show up, put in their 8 hours of work each day with little or no pressure, and then go home are not usually going to make the big bucks!

If you want to be wealthy, you have to ask yourself – how badly do you want it?  What sacrifices are you willing to make in order to become wealthy.

I know a lot of very wealthy people who are very happy and many who are miserable. I also know a lot of very happy people (and miserable ones, too!) that do not make a lot of money.  The happy and satisfied people are the ones who have made conscious decisions about what is most important to them personally and then based their career decisions around honoring and upholding those decisions.

There is a great book on this topic – The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor.  For a taste of its contents, check out Shawn’s TEDTalk on The Happy Secret of Better Work

Competing priorities make decision-making difficult

In the immortal words of the Rolling Stones “you can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you get what you need.”

Really understanding the difference between wants and needs is very important to your career exploration.  You will very likely need to make a minimum amount of money to make ends meet and fulfill your responsibilities and meet your commitments.   You will probably want to make a lot more than that.  The question becomes – how much more?

Be honest with yourself about your wants and needs, and use this information to guide your career decision-making.

If being able to travel a lot is a priority, “not having to move your things” may not be realistic.

If being able to afford a luxurious life style is a priority, “not giving up some of your personal life” may not be realistic.

In both instances, these are competing priorities.

If you truly understand and are honest about your priorities, you will be able to accept the sacrifices you will need to make.

Use what you know about yourself to guide your career exploration

Finally, I am getting to the part about what careers you should consider, right! 🙂

Joseph, your majors are international business and French.  In addition to completing your coursework, you should do something every semester to explore your career options;  Internships, information gathering interviews, involvement in student organizations, study/intern abroad programs, for example.

You should read the Wall Street Journal daily, so that you will understand what is going on in business around the world.  If you want to work in the international business community, you should be paying attention to what is going on in the international business community.

You may end up working in investment banking, import/export, hospitality and travel, international business, foreign service/diplomacy, research, international relations,  . . . I could go on.  Since I don’t  know you personally, I cannot suggest career paths that might uniquely suit you.

So, talk to the career advisors on your campus.  Talk to faculty in your international business and French programs.  Seek their advice and guidance.  Talk to the study abroad counselors at your university.  They may be able to recommend some international programs for you to consider.

Connect the Dots

You will find success – that is, you will find what you are seeking – when you work to connect the dots between what you are doing in your classes and what you are doing outside your classes.  Do this, seeking advice along the way, and you will discover the career paths that best suit your skills, interests, priorities and goals.

Happy hunting!

matt-signature