Hello, again! I left off last week with my arrival in Chicago after graduating college and traveling the country. I was unsure how to get started looking for any sort of green job and was regretting that fact that I never interned anywhere in college. I haven’t had the best luck so far, and I hope others can learn from my mistakes.
When I arrived in Chicago, I immediately began checking Craigslist and green employment sites such as www.ecojobs.com for work in my field. My emphasis in college was Environmental Economics and Policy, so I my goal has been to find a job at a non-profit doing either policy analysis or advocacy work. I knew that checking a handful of websites was likely not the best route, but with my being new to the city and having few resources available to me, I thought that this may be the best option.[social_buttons]
It came as little surprise that the only non-profit jobs I found on Craigslist were canvassing positions (the people that ask you if you have “a minute for the environment” on the streets). I felt that my degree put me a few steps past that, so I consistently declined those positions for the first couple of weeks of job-hunting. On Ecojobs I had almost the exact opposite problem, with each position being either on the east coast (specifically the Washington DC area) or asking for qualifications far beyond my experience level.
Aside from canvassing, the greenest jobs that Craigslist had to offer were a few eco-friendly restaurant positions, so I made two resumes- one for landing (hopefully very temporary) food service positions and one for the non-profit sector. This made it even more apparent how lacking my non-profit resume was, since I had seemingly more experience in making smoothies and sandwiches than I did about saving the planet!
With the economy sinking at a fast rate, however, I found that even my familiarity with managing a small kitchen at a café couldn’t land me an unskilled job. I decided to take a canvassing position with Environment Illinois, who canvasses under the Fund For Public Interest. I have heard mixed things about the group, but I see in them potential to get my foot in the non-profit door. I have found myself enjoying the work and respecting the organization, but I have also made it clear to them that this position is not where I see myself in the long run. They understand that I am actively searching for work that better suits me, and they informed me that there are higher positions within the organization itself that I may be qualified for.
Since starting canvassing, I have taken part in a filmed dialogue on the streets of Chicago about the tough prospects of finding a job as a recent college graduate. I also interviewed with Environment Illinois to be promoted from a street canvasser to a campaign director. This was all a few weeks ago, so time will tell if this leads anywhere.
Green Job Searching Tip of the Week:
Branch out from the internet and look places other than Craigslist. While the internet did land me an alright job that will hold me over while I search for more suitable work, it is not the only way to search for work. People around my age, me included, have practically developed a fear of walking into a place in person and asking them about job positions. A symptom of our digital generation, perhaps?
While I work with Environment Illinois, I plan to actively seek work in my field, not by just pressing the search button, but by calling non-profits and going to them in person. A Microsoft Word file with a job history can not replace what seeing someone in person and talking to them has to offer.
Next week I will tell of the good fortune that the street interview brought me and what it has done to change my short term and mid-term plans. Check back Tuesday!