By Xavier Vergara
On Thursday, August 27, 2020, Leaders in Energy conducted its 7th Annual Green Jobs Forum, for the first time, completely virtually. The panel session on “Tips on Landing or Creating a Green Job,” moderated by Josh Foster, Senior Manager, Climate Risk Management and Resilience, at the Maryland Department of Transportation, featured several Leaders in Energy members who had recently secured green jobs. Topics that were discussed included recommended plans and ideas to get the foot in the door for a green job. Stories from panelists showed struggles of different types that ended in success. With time, dedication, and perseverance green positions were secured as jobs or created through entrepreneurship. The attendees heard a number of compelling stories from the panelists as they share their journeys to success. Strategies discussed included recruiting, job finding strategies, and persistence when finding a job.
A poll taken earlier in the Forum showed that a large percentage of the Forum attendees were either interested in transitioning into the green sector and/or were currently in the green sector looking for their next opportunities. Other categories of attendees included recent graduates as well as others who had been out of the workforce for several years and were seeking reentry.
Panelists (in order of presentation):
Analysis Manager at Bloomberg Law for environmental, social, and governance (ESG), and sustainability. She has a Master’s in International Legal studies with a certificate in WTO (World Trade Organization) from Georgetown University Law Center. Through her ten years of experience in environmental health and safety, she attributes this as the leading factor in addition to her international trade and finance background, a strong cover letter, and transferable skills to helping her get her current position through Bloomberg. She also found value in taking online courses on sustainability related topics and would encourage anyone who is interested in this field to explore courses on Coursera and EdX among others.
Founder of “Plastic Tree”. Her organization focuses on the reuse of materials. She is also the Chair of the Circular economy working group. She has a supply-chain management Micro-Master’s from MIT. She spent 12 years in emergency management law previous to starting her business. Her motivation for stating this business was seeing large amounts of pollution and waste growing up in Manilla, Philippines. Taking a leap of faith she quit her job of over a decade and with some money saved up, as well as some financial assistance from family, she was able to start Plastic Tree. She initially thought about the question or problem that she needed to solve, in this case it was “How do we get more people to go zero waste”? and “How do we make it accessible and easy”? Plastic Tree works with commercial and residential services to pickup recyclables to reuse or recycle every component possible to prevent incineration or landfill waste.
Lauren Kyla Pitts
Environmental Scientist working on “Environmental Resource Concepts Inc” and “The National Environmental Policy Act”. She has a Master’s in Civil Science from Texas A&M University. Lauren started as a soil conservationist. She found green jobs early in her career search, but it took time to find and figure out the job she genuinely wanted. Seeking work in agriculture related roles, she saw, firsthand, the importance of gaining experience exclusive to the countries she wished to work in. Following her work in soil conservation in lieu of working for the Peace Corps to gain experience, she decided to pursue fellowships. Through her continuous desire for entrepreneurship abroad in Ghana and a National Science Foundation Fellowship during her time at Texas A&M. While at Texas A&M she found value in the strong support coming from her peers when she was seeking networking opportunities leading her to further job opportunities. She also encourages the practice of negotiating salaries when securing a position, which could work in someone’s favor if they to their research on the position and are not afraid to ask.
Battery Engineer at Panasonic Energy of North America. She is a recent graduate with a Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Maryland. Initially she got work in insurance, but decided to go for green jobs instead and pursued a Mechanical Engineering degree in addition to her English degree. This posed a struggle for her in her interviews to explain her change of direction in her interviews throughout her studies as well as at career fairs in her school. After experiencing this difficulty, she worked towards internships, and in interviews, she emphasized her work in projects from her internships as well as capstone project work. With this strategy she was able to secure work with Panasonic at her school career fair granting her the opportunity to see the Tesla Gigafactory, where Panasonic works with the production of batteries, one week before Covid-related shutdowns occurred.
Panel Moderator. Senior Manager, Climate Risk Management and Resilience. Josh discussed his recent position in a green job at the Maryland Department of Maryland which he landed shortly after the Covid pandemic was announced. He emphasized in particular a number of training courses and coaches who had assisted him. He mentioned a number of Leaders in Energy workshops as well as hiring a LinkedIn coach, Executive Coach, as well as a motivational coach.
Additional recap articles and presentations from the Forum panels are available in our Event Archives.
Xavier Vergara is a passionate advocate for sustainability and environmental issues. He has dedicated over a decade of work with various club/organizations including the “NOVA green club”, sustainability internships with “INOVA Fairfax Hospital and “The City of Fairfax“, “Blog Talk Radio” (as an interviewer), “Quora” (as a short article writer), and volunteer work through “Leaders in Energy“.