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Career Insider

Students and Employers Connect at Environmental Careers Seminar that interests you, propose one! Come up with an idea and propose a project. Many non-profits will be receptive to your proposals and are structured to develop your proposal.

Darcey Rosenblatt speaks at the Environmental Careers seminar

San Diego, CA - Are you beginning your career? Are you making plans to advance your career? Don’t you sometimes wish that you had the inside advice and tips you want to advance your career by giving you the inside track? That’s what the Environmental Careers Seminar provides you – helpful, inside advice from environmental professionals to get you started and/or advance your career. The National Association of Environmental Professionals (NAEP) and Association of Environmental Professionals (AEP) held a joint annual conference in San Diego at the end of March. The conference included an Environmental Careers Seminar conducted by the Environmental Career Center (ECC) and Job Fair that provided first-rate networking opportunities for aspiring environmental professionals. The careers seminar provided an excellent forum for people looking to start or advance a career to get inside tips and advice from environmental professionals. After all, there is just so much information that can be gained from other sources – internet, blogs, etc. It’s the speakers’ personal connection that they develop with the attendees and their desire to help that is the key. Plus, it’s the personal touch of the seminar speakers that makes the seminar so effective and successful.

Joe Carbone, Assistant Director NEPA, U.S. Forest Service, addressed the wide range of activities and responsibilities in his division. He expanded on problem solving, project management, documentation, public involvement and cooperation. Joe suggested seeing the opportunities and not the initial perceived limitations of a career position. He also described decision science and its importance to solid decision making. Should you take a temporary assignment or an assignment that is not directly related to the work you really want to do or should you wait for an opportunity more directly related to the work you want? Joe Carbone’s advice is to take any opportunity to get your foot in the door and let people experience what you can do (of course you need to give 110%, show initiative, and show you are a quick study). You want people to like working with you and appreciate the good work you do. Then, when either an opportunity opens in your area of interest or there is an opportunity in another area, “you’re in the door to grab it”. You are working with people who can refer you to others in the same agency / organization. You have to get to know people who can bring to light your achievements to others. Then, lack of experience won’t be a barrier, because the decision makers will have faith that you are a good learner and will come up to speed on the job. “I’ve seen this work over and over with others and this is how I advanced my career”, Joe stated. Also, always look for transferable skills like volunteering to help out at a public meeting or a request to head up an office fund-raising event or meeting. Do this so you can practice your skills and others will recognize your professionalism, organization skills, leadership, and personality. “Someone will notice and think, I wish he/she worked for me! And then you will!” Kyle Harper, EDAW Botanist and former AEP Student Chapter President suggested students distinguish themselves in the marketplace by having their own business cards and a professional email address. Kyle discussed how his business, computers, and environmental background all combined to provide a focus and purpose for his career plans. He also outlined how his internship with EDAW grew into a full time position. According to Kyle, the key to early success is through volunteering, which fosters both professional connections and a genuine passion for the field of work.

Dr. Mary Ann Hawke responds to student inquiry.

“Do your homework!” Research the organization’s website, attend lectures, and review the annual reports of the organization you are seeking a position. These are just a couple of the suggestions Dr. Mary Ann Hawke of the San Diego Natural History Museum offered the audience. Also, volunteering is an excellent method to get your foot in the door with many non-profits. “So often students expect to step into paid positions with benefits, but sometimes to really connect with the work that you love, you have to invest something first in order to see it bear fruit!” Dr. Hawke, Project Director, San Diego County Plant Atlas, recommended a unique approach for landing a job with an organization of interest. If you can’t find a job, or a job

Valerie Birch, Senior Project Manager with Parsons Brinckerhoff, stated that “flexibility is a very important” personality trait to develop to advance your career. She also stressed the importance of not limiting yourself-being open to new experiences and willing to try different things during the course of your career. By not narrowly defining your job description, you open the door to opportunities that you might never have thought about or find out that you love doing something that you thought you might not like at all. Having a broad range of experience also helps to make you more valuable in the job market. Jane Leonard addressed issues regarding her dual role as a designer with Stantec and member of the Board of Directors with the San Diego chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council. She suggested following your passion

for the environment and “being open to possibilities” as opportunities are increasing for those with an environmental background across a broad spectrum of disciplines including research, policy development and advocacy, planning, law, and the AEC (architecture, engineering and construction) industry. Careful selection of college electives is important and volunteer work with affiliated organizations can be valuable. Regarding Green Building careers, she stated that growth would continue because of today’s awareness of the relationship between the energy consumption of buildings and the climate change crisis, as well as compelling evidence that green buildings are a sound economic, social and environmental investment.

Valerie Birch, Jane Leonard & Darcey Rosenblatt answer student questions.

“Write well – play well” is but one nugget of advice that Darcey Rosenblatt had to offer. The ability to write clearly and concisely is not common in job applicants. Employers really like to hire and keep candidates who are professional and work well with other team members in fast-paced environments where client expectations are high. Darcey, Senior Project Manager with ESA in San Francisco, outlined the wide range of career fields available with ESA and indicated that they have in particular added to the firm’s cultural resources practice recently. She strongly suggested that you be flexible with your career path, but make sure you have the interest to focus in a specific area. How do you get noticed in the marketplace? Darcey suggests writing a paper or speaking at a professional association conference. Thanks to Julie Wang of EDAW for her invaluable assistance with the seminar. Her effort paved the way for the forum. It’s all about the people who participate. We have some additional advice. Join organizations like the AEP or NAEP. Student chapters are available, and if there isn’t one at your college, work to get one started. Make it happen by taking the initiative. People will notice your leadership. The AEP San Diego Chapter has three active Student AEP chapters that are ideal for students to gain the practical knowledge and experience in the environmental field. We encourage anyone planning to start or advance a career to obtain the greatest knowledge possible to secure the career best suited for you. The Environmental Careers Seminar should be part of your plan. Mark your calendars now for: NAEP Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona in May 2009 (www. and the AEP conference in San Francisco in Spring 2009 (www. See you there!


Green Careers Journal - April 2008 Vol. III Num. 3  

The journal of the environmental careers world. Dedicated to bringing those in the environmental careers field the information they need to...

Green Careers Journal - April 2008 Vol. III Num. 3  

The journal of the environmental careers world. Dedicated to bringing those in the environmental careers field the information they need to...