Being a sustainability studies major opens the door to a wide range of opportunities. From science to business to journalism, odds are, there’s a way to channel your passion for sustainability studies into the career path that’s most exciting to you. But with so many opportunities out there, deciding on that path might feel a little overwhelming. One way to narrow your focus is by taking on a paid or unpaid internship during college. This will help you build up your skillset while also helping you identify the type of career that’s right for you. In the process, it will also give you a better idea of the type of entry-level jobs to apply for.
Here are some of the most common entry-level jobs for sustainability studies majors:
Accountant or auditor
As an accountant or auditor, you’ll be responsible for keeping track of how your company’s sustainability programs are performing, including how much money the company is spending versus saving in its effort to be more environmentally friendly. You’ll also measure and report on how much your company’s efforts are helping the environment in areas like recycling and waste reduction. Energy auditors specifically focus on building inspections, looking for sustainability-related improvements.
Analytic Methods Analyst
In this role, you’ll be making key business decisions by analyzing data from military and commercial aircraft systems, aircraft operations and maintenance records. You will be responsible for anticipating any issues with aircraft fleets, studying results and tracking success. You’ll then communicate your findings to your company and its clients. Part of your job will also include looking for ways to improve the design and function of aircraft.
If you’re interested in a more scientific field, microbiology might be a good fit for you. This role is very hands-on, and has the potential to make a big difference far beyond your company’s walls. As a microbiologist, you’ll study viruses and bacteria to determine how they might play a role in reducing pollution or minimizing the use of fossil fuels by creating the biofuels of the future.
As a chemical engineer, you’ll focus specifically on the production processes of a company and the chemicals involved in those processes. It will be your job to find ways to replace existing production methods with renewable resources that are kinder to the environment. For example, you might research and test biodegradable chemicals that are less likely to cause pollution.
As a compliance officer, you’ll work to ensure your company is complying with health, safety and environmental laws and regulations. In this job, you could work on reports about your sustainability findings or present recommendations that will help your company achieve (or even exceed) certain regulation standards.
Human resources specialist
As a human resources specialist focusing on sustainability, you’ll be responsible for ensuring that employees understand and comply with different sustainability efforts set up by your company. In this role, you might also help with preparing and conducting training programs for new employees to educate them on what corporate sustainability means and how to achieve it.
Occupational health and safety technician
In this role, you’ll assist with projects that improve the safety of workers, company buildings and the health and safety impact your company has on the general public. This might take the form of helping design a safer workplace environment, performing inspections or monitoring the quality of air in your office building to ensure there are no toxins.
As a sustainability studies major, you have a wide range of career paths to choose from. To ensure that you pick a position that’s right for you, it’s important to figure out where your interests lie and to pursue a role that you’re passionate about. Whether that ends up being a molecular biologist or a compliance officer, the skills you’ve developed in school and during any internships will definitely help you shine.