Within the last few months, this is the number one question I get asked by young people. You’ve graduated with your degree so now you’re asking yourself, what next? You realise that you like multiple areas in the sector but are having difficulty narrowing it down. Interested in a career in the environmental sector in Trinidad and Tobago? Here’s how…
Study Environmental Science/Management
Yes, that sounds like duhhh…but I have to mention it. Entry-level into the sector requires that you have a Bachelors’ degree in Environmental Science. I do not want to get specific with the name of the degree programme as different institutions call their degrees by different names. It is where you MUST start. If you are interested in a career in the environmental sector in Trinidad and Tobago, you must have your foundation laid, which in this case is your degree.
Volunteer in the area/areas you like
As a former senior manager in the sector and now the head of an environmental social enterprise, volunteerism is the number one thing I look for on your resume. I so strongly believe in the benefit of volunteering, that it forms a part of my hiring policy, with first dibs on those who have volunteered with me in the past.
Volunteering shows the organisation that you are willing to give of your time for a cause you believe in without expecting anything in return. Just be mindful of the ‘go-for’ approach as you are there to learn and not to play ‘go fetch’.
Volunteerism can also act as a differentiator between you and the next graduate. With so many of you graduating from University at the same time, why should you be chosen over the next applicant? This is what you need to start paying attention to.
Apply to multiple organisations
In this sector, you cannot and I repeat CANNOT and SHOULD NOT put your eggs in one basket. Apply to as many different organisations as you can both locally and abroad. Sign up for job listings to those companies that you wish to work for. I would say this here as well, you should research the companies you wish to work for and ask these questions:
- Why do I want to work for them?
- What is their environmental impact like? Do they walk the talk?
- Am I willing to work for a company that isn’t as environmentally strong as another?
A point to also consider is to track or map out who and where you’ve applied so that you also get an idea of the kinds of organisations you wish to work for. For those of you who are visual learners, a chart or graphic can also help. You may be amazed to find that there is a commonality among them; government/state agencies, private sector, social enterprises etc. To play the game, you must understand the rules of engagement.
Here is an interesting link for you to understand career mapping even better.
Tap into your network
This was the one thing I didn’t want to do when I was younger because I thought, I can do this on my own and I didn’t need help. The truth is, there are many people; your parents, friends, lecturers who know someone in an organisation who may be looking for persons to join their team. Start by putting it out there on your social media that you are looking for work and reach out to those you admire or who work in the companies you want to work for and ask them. From my experience, if you are interested in a career in the environmental sector, you would find that there are a lot of people who are willing to help.
N.B. Please ensure that your social media profile (I suggest LinkedIn) is professional and conveys how you would like to represent yourself.
Be willing to take a risk
This point is for those of you who are willing to jump off the mountain and enter into the field of entrepreneurship. I will say first off that this is not for the faint of heart. You WILL work harder in and on your business than you would for any company. Trust me when I say this is the absolute truth. All of my previous points also apply here because they will set you on your journey. I knew early on that waste was my thing so when faced with the decision as to what to do, it was a no-brainer. Then came, what in waste management? I love teaching and working with children and with a little help, waste education came to be. So it is possible for you to have a career in this sector as an entrepreneur.
Working in this sector does require some thought as to where you should be spending your time and energy and you must be passionate about it too. If you’re not, you’ll find that you’ll have a hard time trying to figure things out.
Let me know in the comments if you found this article helpful. These tips can be applied even if you don’t live in Trinidad and Tobago. We’re waiting on YOU to join us!