By Shelli Bond
I am pulled in so many directions – wind, solar, energy storage, green building initiatives, storm water treatment, etc. – I could work in any one of these fields for the rest of my life, and be delighted for the joy of having an ounce to offer our Earth in return for the beautiful home we share.
As a Mechanical Engineering Junior, I am sometimes overwhelmed by the enormity of the decisions I’ll make in the next year before I graduate! Meanwhile, I am stunned by how few choices I have in “green” careers if I don’t expand my network and career search outside of the University Career Fairs!
So, on March 22nd, I participated in the Green Careers Workshop, hosted by Leaders in Energy, and presented by Dr. Beth Offenbacker. The experience gave me the tools to organize and understand my personal priorities, the resources to learn everything about my favorite green industries, and the confidence to begin building a substantial network. I was also delighted to find a heartening and supportive community amongst the workshop participants.
The entire event has given me the confidence to move forward in my career search in an organized and mindful way. Dr. Offenbacker provided us with several pages of useful tools, but my favorite is a simple grid to weigh personal and professional priorities. Sometimes I compare two professional goals, other times I compare personal goals affected by my career. The practice is helping me to find structure in the emotionally-driven, future-impacting decision making process.
In time, I believe I’ll make healthy and thoughtful decisions with Dr. Offenbacker’s organizational toolbox. However, I also worry about entering the workforce entirely underprepared. Like many engineering students, I worry a lot about being knowledgeable and “good enough.” I was amazed last Friday by the wealth of knowledge my workshop peers had to share. I love to learn, but I’ve only just begun to center my coursework on sustainability. In many ways, I feel way behind the curve. But, thanks to an extremely well-informed participant at the workshop last week, I learned how to access webinars and online courses that focus on the intricacies of the technologies I’m most excited about! I now have opportunities to learn frequently from passionate and reputable teachers online. These resources inspire confidence in me to approach employers in any field because I’m certain I can find information to prepare exceptionally well for an engaging and intelligent interview.
Lastly, I was inspired more than once by our speaker, Ms. Michelle Diller. Michelle told us the story of her own career, and discussed the ways she found a healthy balance in her personal and professional life. In particular, I remember her expressing the way she likes to learn. She disclosed her love of mastering new things, and that she has benefited from the non-linear nature of her career path because it afforded her opportunities for fresh knowledge at every turn. I am longing for a career with the same opportunities for continued educational experiences, so I’ve since come to another intensely comforting conclusion about my future. Like Michelle, I passionately love to try new things. And like every other person at the Green Careers Workshop, I am hoping to participate in the world-wide effort to “save the world.” I may be overwhelmed now by choosing wind energy over green building design, or vice versa, but I am also delighted that there are so many chances remaining in my career to shift my focus and get involved in new projects along the path!
I loved every moment of the Green Career Workshop. In addition to building a larger network, I’ve walked away with so many valuable lessons for developing a career that both I and the planet will love. Thank you to everyone involved in making the day possible!
Shelli returned to college for a second degree to help her find a more challenging and rewarding career. She’s enjoying her Mechanical Engineering coursework, but is anxious to join the rest of us in our efforts to restore health to our planet!