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Putting sustainability to work

April 11, 2010

Putting sustainability to work

Green-collar jobs grew by more than 9 percent, twice the growth rate for traditional jobs, from 1998 to 2007. Even during a recession, a “greener resume” can be the answer to getting hired, says Director of Sustainability Dedee DeLongpre Johnston.

“Sustainability is a competitive advantage in the marketplace,” she said. “College graduates entering the job market this year will definitely have an edge if they have developed sustainability-related skill sets.”

Getting a green job doesn’t mean looking for jobs with “sustainability” or “environment” in the title any more. Green jobs are also not limited to installing solar panels or weatherizing houses. From marketing to publishing to accounting to finance, viewing the world through the lens of sustainability and having practical experience in that area can make a difference when applying for jobs.

As banks look at making loans for green buildings, law firms develop new kinds of contracts for carbon credits, and companies target consumers who value greener products, students who understand what sustainability looks like in various industries or organizations and have experience solving real-world problems will fare well. And, if students understand sustainability principles, any job can become a green job.

“Sustainability is a way of thinking,” DeLongpre Johnston said. “And, that way of thinking has value across the job market. Experience and knowledge tied to sustainability will make this year’s job hunters stronger candidates.”

Internships focused on sustainability are invaluable for students who are job hunting because they help students demonstrate to employers that they can solve problems, says DeLongpre Johnston, who has business majors, anthropology majors and students from other academic departments interning in her office and helps students find off-campus internships.

Integrating sustainability into a career also helps students who are passionate about a greener world align their passions and talents with their work.

Just as proficiency using word processing, the Web, and other technology is now expected in the workplace, understanding sustainability principles and how to apply them will become a basic expectation of employers in the future. “Eventually, sustainability will be woven seamlessly into the fabric of society,” she said.