Types of Entry-Level Jobs for Sustainability Studies Majors

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.

Chemical engineer

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.

Compliance officer

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.

Top 5 Sustainability Interview Questions

A career in sustainability is an exciting opportunity for your work to have a real-world impact on the environment. If you’re considering a job in this area, you might be wondering what to expect from the interview and how to set yourself up for success. There are a wide range of sustainability career paths you can take, from politics and policy to journalism and business, and each of these will come with its own unique set of interview questions. That said, these questions will likely come up in most of your interviews.

Why did you decide to go into the field of sustainability?

This is a broad question with no right or wrong answer, but it’s also a great chance to tell a personal story about why working in sustainability is important to you. To prepare, think about what inspired you to pursue this field of study and any memorable experiences from your classes or internships that made you certain you chose the right career path. Think of this question as a more targeted version of “tell me about yourself”.

Tell me what interests you most about this specific role.

This question is a great opportunity to highlight what you learned as a sustainability studies major and during any internships you had. It’s generally targeted toward getting a sense of what motivates you and how passionate you are about the potential job. To answer this question effectively, make sure you’ve done your research on the company so you can personalize your answers to the specific role you’re interviewing for. Emphasizing why your interest matches their job description is a great way to show you’re qualified.

How would you describe your work process?

Sustainability jobs often require a mix of creative and analytical skills. They can be research-heavy, but also rely on effective communication with team members. This question is designed to understand how your process will fit into a company’s work environment. To answer it, consider how you take a project from initial planning stages to execution? Think carefully about your process for gathering information, forming opinions and checking your work before presenting.

Tell me about a recent challenge you faced while working on a sustainability project. How did you overcome it?

This question is designed to test your critical thinking and problem-solving skills by asking you about the path you took to solve a specific challenge. When answering this question, it’s important to be specific and outline the steps you took along with your reasons for taking them. For example, what alternative approaches did you consider when making those decisions and why did you ultimately decide on your final approach? This will show the hiring manager that you’re thoughtful about your decisions, you account for any possible drawbacks, and that you take calculated risks when necessary.

Tell me about a project that didn’t work out. What did you learn?

It’s not fun to talk about your failures, but being able to show what you’ve learned from them is extremely important. In an ever-changing field like sustainability studies, you’ll need to constantly adapt to changing research and new scientific studies. Many times, you’ll be working in areas that don’t have much prior research, which means you’ll need to be comfortable with testing things and learning from them when projects don’t go according to plan. To answer this question, think about a project that didn’t go smoothly but still positively impacted you work in a big way.

Interviewing for a job in sustainability might seem a bit intimidating at first, but by knowing what to expect and how to prepare your answers, you’ll be sure to impress the hiring manager and get one step closer to landing the job.

What Types of Skills are Best for a Sustainability Studies Major?

If the idea of contributing to solutions for real environmental change appeals to you, then becoming a sustainability studies major might be the right fit for you. What’s the best way to thrive as a sustainability studies major and set yourself up for success? It starts with having the right skill set.

Here are the top skills the most successful sustainability studies majors possess.

Communication Skills

Whether in a lab or a classroom, sustainability studies majors need to be able to work both independently and in groups to study environmental challenges and determine potential solutions. Because of this, you need to be skilled at helping your entire group come to a conclusion—even when not everyone agrees. You will also need to present your findings, whether in a research paper or in a presentation to your class and professor. For this reason, you will need to share your findings and opinions clearly and effectively.

Problem-Solving Skills
Another key skill for sustainability studies majors is the ability to take on complex problems with a combination of creativity and analytical approaches. Many areas of sustainability studies are constantly evolving, which means the topics you’re working on won’t always have a right or wrong answer. Still, sustainability studies majors need to keep working towards new solutions. In order to do this, you’ll have to think about the best way to complete a project and outline the steps it will take to get it done.

Research Skills

Since the work of a sustainability studies major incorporates science, social science and humanities, you’ll need to be a thorough, inquisitive researcher across a range of subject areas. You’ll need to be able to draw conclusions from your research findings and understand how existing research can help you better understand your field of study.

Math and Science Skills

A strong understanding of environmental science and the ability to analyze and report on data are incredibly valuable skills for sustainability studies majors. You’ll be entering a field that has a tremendous amount of data associated with it, which is only going to increase over time. Being able to read, understand and act on complex reports and statistics related to sustainability is important, whether you’re looking to work at a small company or a large one. Physics, biology, chemistry and trigonometry will all be put to good use in many sustainability careers.


Since sustainability studies majors are part of an ever-changing field, you’ll need to be open to seeking out new technologies, research methods and ideas on a regular basis. Your job will depend on looking at sustainability-related problems from different perspectives as you work to find the best possible solutions.

How to Get a Job in Sustainability

This is an industry that draws in people who care about preserving the environment for future generations, and the number of sustainability-related careers has been growing. This is great news for recent grads who are passionate about the planet and want to contribute to protecting its resources. Here are the steps you need to take if you want to land a job in sustainability studies.

  1. Develop your knowledge of sustainability topics

When you’re planning for your career, you want to have as broad an understanding of sustainability-related fields as possible. Think through the classes you’ve taken in areas like landscape architecture, economics, urban planning and anthropology. Make a point to stay on top of sustainability-related news and consider subscribing to newsletters that cover sustainability like the NASA Global Climate Change newsletter or the Climate Action newsletter. Beyond this, do some research to find out about specific companies doing work in sustainability. Forbes’ annual list of “The World’s Most Sustainable Companies” is a great place to start.

  1. Determine what aspects of sustainability you’re interested in

After you’ve gotten a good grasp on what’s happening in the sustainability space, the next step is narrowing your focus so you can pick a career path that matches your interests and skills. For example, if you enjoy tracking metrics and have knack for making everything you do more efficient, you might consider a career as an analytic methods analyst. Or, if you’ve always been passionate about government’s role in sustainability issues, you might consider a career in environmental policy and planning. Other potential career paths include business, landscape and architectural design and marine science.

  1. Intern with a company that focuses on sustainability

Once you’ve done your industry research and you have a strong focus in mind, the next step is getting hands-on experience by interning at a company that focuses on sustainability. Internships are a great way to gain deeper knowledge of a field while also getting a sense of the role or roles that are best for you. Keep in mind that while smaller companies are great for a more cross-functional internship experience, bigger companies might give you a chance to specialize in a very specific field and gain the type of industry experience most people only get once they’re working a full-time job.

  1. Know what your top-choice sustainability companies look for

While companies focusing on sustainability have plenty of differences, they all share a passion for environmental preservation. They also share a desire to hire smart, motivated recent grads to join their teams. Once you have an internship or two on your resume and start applying to full-time jobs, pay close attention to the mission and work of each company and think about how everything you’ve learned so far can help your potential new employer. Whether you’re applying online or heading to an in-person interview, be sure to highlight everything you’ve learned about the industry so far, and emphasize your passion for the company and the field of sustainability.

By following these tips and honing your skills and knowledge, you’ll be well on your way to finding a sustainability job that’s right for you.

What is a Sustainability Studies Major and is it Right for Me?

Do you care deeply about the environment and keeping it in tact for future generations? Are you passionate about a wide range of academic subjects ranging from science to the humanities? If so, a sustainability studies major might be for you.

What is a sustainability studies major?

Sustainability studies majors learn how to protect, preserve and make the smartest possible use of the planet’s natural resources. Students in this major pull from a wide range of study areas, including science, social science and the humanities. Typical classes in this major include ecology, landscape architecture, urban planning, economics, anthropology and sociology.

Is it right for me?

The field of sustainability studies is best suited for someone who is interested in current environmental challenges and looking to incorporate a variety of subject areas and research methods into their work. Pursuing a major in sustainability studies means you will be part of timely, important work to better understand and make improvements to the ways we interact with the planet.

Here are some questions to ask yourself when deciding if a sustainability studies major is right for you:

  • Am I thoughtful? Do I enjoy research-heavy work?
  • Am I open-minded in my work? Do I look at something from a variety of perspectives to find the best possible solution? Am I both creative and analytical?
  • Am I curious? Do I constantly seek out new technologies, research and ideas?
  • Am I a problem solver? Do I care deeply about finding solutions to complex challenges?
  • Am I inquisitive? Do I question how things are currently done and look for ways to do them better?

If you responded “Yes” to all or most of the above questions, then being a sustainability studies major might be for you.

What can I do with a sustainability studies degree?

There isn’t a single go-to career path for those in the field of sustainability studies. Instead, there are a wide range of career paths to choose from. Sustainability studies majors can look into positions and advanced degrees involving:

  • law
  • politics
  • policy and planning
  • journalism
  • business
  • landscape and architectural design
  • marine sciences
  • … and more

What do sustainability studies professionals earn?

With a variety of career options, there are also a range of salaries sustainability professionals can make. Chemical engineers and atmospheric and space scientists make $90,000–$93,000 on average, while environmental engineers, civil engineers, health and safety engineers and industrial engineers make between $75,500 and $79,000 on average. The average salary also goes up significantly as you advance in your career, with chief sustainability executives making an average of $167,000.

What is a Natural Sciences Major and is it Right for Me?

Interested in science but not sure exactly what you’d like to study? Do you like the idea of learning about a large number of science-related topics at once? Want a major that can be applicable to the real world and help you solve challenges people encounter every day? If so, a natural sciences major may be for you.

What is a natural sciences major?

How does majoring in natural sciences differ from majoring in a specific type of science (such as biology, chemistry, physics, astronomy, geology or microbiology)? Natural sciences programs are usually interdisciplinary, covering several sciences at once.

Additionally, natural sciences majors don’t just learn in the classroom; many work in labs or do on-the-ground work. Many natural sciences departments also require their majors to take on a research project (like a capstone or thesis) during the last year or two of college as a way to synthesize everything they’ve learned and apply it to a particular problem or area of study.

Another crucial consideration is what you hope to do after college. Many natural sciences majors go on to graduate school to receive a Masters, Ph.D. or other certification, so you’ll have to think about whether you’d be interested in going to grad school if your specific area of study strongly encourages or requires more schooling.

Is it right for me?

Think this major may be for you? Here are some key questions to ask yourself.

  • Do I have strong math and science skills? Am I confident that I could perform well in a number of different science-related subject areas like biology, physics and chemistry?
  • Am I ready to concentrate, minor or double major in another subject (most likely science-related) in addition to a broader natural sciences degree?
  • Am I willing to spend extra time taking lab classes and also working in a lab over the course of my college years
  • Do I like spending large amounts of time collecting and interpreting data? Am I okay with spending summers or other school breaks conducting research?
  • Am I interested in ending my college career with a research project like a capstone or thesis?

What can I do with a natural sciences degree?

Natural sciences majors use their degree as a springboard into a number of different fields. Some go into research in a particular area of science, while others may choose a health- or medicine-related track.

Once armed with a natural sciences degree, graduates have gone on to any number of science-related careers including:

  • physician assistants
  • doctors
  • nurses
  • therapists
  • educators
  • technical writers
  • engineers
  • chemical or material scientists
  • professors
  • forensic science technicians
  • surveyors
  • biologists
  • … and more

What do people who majored in natural sciences earn?

While you may need to attend graduate school to maximize your salary, natural sciences majors tend to do well financially after graduation. For example, a senior geologist makes a median salary of $93,000, and a clinical data manager can make a salary of well over $100,000.

Next, learn more about this college major such as What Types of Skills Are Best for a Natural Sciences Major? and get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as How Do I Get a Job in Another City or State?

What Types of Skills Are Best for a Health and Medicine Major?

If spending all day deep in the world of science and getting to help people along the way sounds like the perfect career to you, majoring in something health- or medicine-related may be the right fit. But before you officially dive into that world, here are 5 important skill sets that successful health and medicine majors have.

Science and quantitative skills

It goes without saying, but health and medicine majors need to have serious science and quantitative chops to work in their fields. Most of your classes will be related to science (and sometimes math), so if you feel that these are strongest subject areas, you could definitely keep up with the rigor that comes with health and medicine majors.

Interpersonal skills

Regardless of what part of the health or medical field you end up going into, you’ll be working with patients and other healthcare professionals constantly, and being able to be calm and helpful at all times is an important skill.

You’ll have to show this same level of dedication to working and getting along with others during your health and medicine studies, both in the classroom and on the ground if your major requires you to work at a clinic, hospital or other facility that provides health care.

Attention to detail

Medicine is a detail-oriented field, so health and medicine majors are meticulous when it comes every part of the process. From filling out paperwork to working with real patients, you’ll need to make sure your T’s are crossed and I’s are dotted every step of the way if you want to be successful in college and beyond.

Problem-solving skills

At the end of the day, health and medicine are about solving the numerous issues that others deal with, and often you’ll have to think of creative and unique solutions to help. Health and medicine majors are people who are excited by taking on new challenges and finding interesting ways the conquer those challenges.

Ability to work well under pressure

Whether it’s taking difficult exams or trying to diagnose a patient, health and medicine majors are constantly being pushed to their limits to find answers quickly. If you like the feeling of working at a fast pace and handle pressure well, you won’t be phased by whatever comes your way throughout your college years.


Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as Mastering Your Summer Internship and find answers to common interview questions such as Why Do You Want to Work Here?.


Types of Internships for Health and Medicine Majors

Pursuing a health and medicine major is a great way to develop your knowledge of the healthcare industry and learn the skills you’ll need to succeed in the field. The best way to put those skills and knowledge to use is by taking on an internship in a healthcare-related field and figure out what career path really fits your interests. From a healthcare-focused education internship to an internship at a public policy organization, there are a lot of options you can explore to determine what works best for you.

Some of the most common internships for health and medicine majors include:

Clinical lab intern

As a clinical lab intern, you’ll work at a lab where you’ll be involved in a number of administrative and research-related tasks. It’s a great opportunity to keep up with the latest research trends and methodologies while learning how to test, analyze and discuss your results with the world at large.

Pre-med summer intern

Another great option is to apply for pre-med summer internship programs in hospitals and universities. This can be especially helpful if you’re a pre-med student who is interested in going to medical school since it’s the perfect opportunity to get a handle on the medical environment and the responsibilities that come along with it. This type of internship involves hands-on experience with the functioning of different departments as well as the potential to shadow a doctor in their everyday duties.

Policy intern

If your passion for healthcare extends to facilitating change through healthcare and mental health policies, a policy or advocacy internship with a prominent healthcare organization could be a great choice. From keeping up with legislative changes to attending conferences and drafting and researching topics related to specific healthcare policies, you’ll get hands-on experience into the procedures required to facilitate policy reform.

Education intern

If you’re looking to put your healthcare major to use in an educational setting, interning at a school, a university or an ed-tech company can give you the exposure you need. In this role, you could be coordinating training programs in a school or writing content for adaptive learning apps. This type of internship will give you hands-on experience with the learning methods and technologies you’ll need to make learning interesting and engaging to students.

Nonprofit intern

If you’re interested in working in the nonprofit sector, you might consider interning at a nonprofit healthcare organization, a role that can offer you a great all-around experience while also giving you a sense of what it takes to fund and sustain such an organization. Whether you’re assisting with grant writing, organizing training sessions or coordinating outreach programs, you’ll get a broad range of experience in the healthcare field and beyond.

Healthcare administration intern

As an administrative intern in a healthcare setting, you’ll gain familiarity with the operations of a hospital or a healthcare organization. You might be assigned to a specific department or gain experience across multiple departments in areas such as data gathering and report writing.

Whether you’re on your way to medical school or looking to branch out into a healthcare-related occupation that does not directly focus medical care, an internship will give you the hands-on experience you need to develop your skills and find out what type of career is right for you.

Next, learn more about this college major such as What Types of Skills Are Best for a Health and Medicine Major? and get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as the Top 10 Skills Employers Want in an Intern.

Types of Internships for Natural Sciences Majors

A natural sciences major is a great opportunity to learn about the sciences while also developing your skills. If you’re a natural sciences major, you may be wondering about the best way to develop these skills while also discovering career paths related to your major. Since the field itself is fairly broad, an internship is one of the best ways to explore potential roles while gaining hands-on experience.

Here are some of the most common internships for natural sciences majors.

Education intern

An education internship prepares you for a career as a teacher or educational consultant in the natural sciences. You might work as an administrative intern at a school, supporting the staff by organizing events, updating databases and sending out emails. You might also work as a teaching assistant where you’ll be preparing teaching materials and presentations while helping teachers in a classroom setting. Educational internship opportunities can be also be found at ed-tech companies. In this type internship, you’ll likely be producing content or helping to design an educational curriculum.

Research intern

Research internships are a great way to get increased exposure to the natural sciences field, especially if you’re a pre-med student or if you’re considering pursuing an advanced degree. You can work as a research assistant at a university lab, join a specialized summer research program, apply to be a student trainee for the U.S. federal government (such as the Pathways Program) or work for a private research firm. This type of internship will give you the opportunity to assist with important research while also learning about the technicalities and ethics involved.

Pre-med intern

Another common type of internship is a pre-med internship. Hospitals and universities frequently have summer programs for students working toward pre-med requirements, giving them an overview of a medical environment and its various responsibilities. From observing different departments to shadowing doctors as they attend to patients, this type of internship will orient you to a healthcare setting while also giving you valuable hands-on experience.

Data science intern

Natural sciences majors can also branch out into data science, a field that involves making meaningful connections between data sets. As a data science intern, you’ll gain valuable experience with large data systems while also learning how data informs business decisions. Whether you intern with a start-up or a large corporation, this type of internship offers great exposure to how science can affect all types of businesses and company operations.

Environmental science intern

Environmental science internships give natural sciences majors an understanding of careers within the field of environmental science. From developing an educational curriculum to helping with the creation of initiatives focused on environmental protection, this type of internship will help you learn more about the field while also showing you how you can really make an impact.

Science journalism intern

A science journalism or writing internship at a scientific publication trains you to report recent scientific developments and generate ideas for other science-based articles. During this type of internship, you’ll be mentored by a staff of writers and editors, and in most cases considered an active member of the team. It’s a great opportunity to learn about science writing and to stay ahead of the latest science news.

From working in a lab to exploring the environmental sciences, a natural sciences internship is a wonderful opportunity to find out what you’re passionate about and to develop the skills you need to succeed in your chosen field.

Next, learn more about this college major such as What is a Natural Sciences Major and is it Right for Me? and get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as When to Start Applying for a Summer Internship.

How to Dress for a Job Interview at a Nonprofit

Unlike other business fields that have more clearly defined dress codes (such as a startup or a corporation), nonprofit organizations are kind of a mixed bag, ranging from more corporate organizations to ones that mimic the startup environment and culture.

Here are some tips that will help you start off on the right foot when interviewing for an entry-level job or a paid or unpaid internship at a nonprofit.

1. Research the organization’s culture

One of the best ways to find out what to wear to your interview is to check out the organization’s website and social accounts. These channels will usually give you an indication of how formal the nonprofit is and will often also give you some deeper insights into organization’s culture as a whole.

2. Stick to business casual attire

While a full suit may be too much for most nonprofit jobs, avoid wearing jeans or sneakers unless the hiring manager or HR contact says that it’s okay to do so. A casual interview outfit may be seen as reflecting a casual work attitude to a potential employer, and not in a good way. Instead, opt for a business casual look such as nice pants and a blouse for women or slacks and a button-down shirt for men. And remember to keep things subtle. That includes perfume/cologne, clothing, makeup and even accessories.

Pro Tip: Depending on the position, your interview could include making a quick trip to the program site so be sure to ask about this in advance so that you can properly prepare if need be.

3. If in doubt, ask the hiring manager

Although asking the hiring manager what to wear might seem a bit intimidating, it’s important to remember that it’s always fine to do so. In fact, it’s a question they get asked on a regular basis and one that they’re comfortable answering. If you’re not sure how to do this, you can say something like: “I want to make sure that I’m dressed appropriately for the interview. Do you have any suggestions for suitable attire?”

4. Wear comfortable shoes

If there’s one constant piece of advice when it comes to interview attire, it’s this one: Wear your most appropriate and most comfortable pair of shoes. Good-looking, polished shoes convey attention to detail and this is something that hiring managers almost always notice. So remember not to skimp out when it comes to your footwear.

Interviewing for a role at a nonprofit is a unique experience. Depending on the organization, it could be a very formal or informal process. Regardless of how informal the nonprofit might be, show the interviewer that you respect them by dressing professionally. A clean, attractive appearance shows that you’re truly interested in the position and that you’re going to take it seriously if hired.

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as 10 Tips for the Perfect Cover Letter and find answers to common interview questions such as Tell Me About a Time You Made a Mistake.