Considering a career related to environmental causes, energy, or sustainability? OCS adviser Anthony Arcieri has leveraged the expertise of Eleanor Fort, an associate for state and federal climate and energy policy program at CERES; read below for Eleanor’s advice about entering the industry.
Q: How do students find out about jobs/internship opportunities in your field?
I would go to organization’s websites, sign up for their newsletters, follow them on Linkedin. Look for groups that you have heard about and then look at the other groups they list as partners. Networking is critical and informational interviews can be really helpful and can pay off in the long-run. Go to events and public hearings. Volunteer with a campaign. When you meet someone who is doing something interesting, ask if they have time to get coffee and then ask them who else they know who you could get coffee with. You should be drinking a lot of coffee when you’re job searching.
Q: Where do you see growth opportunities in your field?
Climate and energy policy, as well as business sustainability, two areas that my job bridges, are going to be growing in the coming years. Businesses are increasingly integrating sustainability across departments. Although progress has not moved quickly enough, in my opinion, on climate policy in the US, I believe we are at a turning point where policymakers are increasingly motivated to address the issue.
Q: How did your concentration come into play (…or not come into play) in your work?
I studied Political Science in college and I still work in the policy arena, although in college, I focused more on international politics and political theory. I now work on federal and state climate and energy policy, which is not something I focused on during college. I think there’s a learning curve to any new issue you work on, but my basic understanding of power, society, and influence has helped me professionally in a number of ways.
Q: What advice do you have for Harvard seniors looking to break into your field?
Looking for a job is a full time job. Set goals, make a workplan, and hold yourself accountable.
It really is all about who you know. Network! I cannot stress this enough. Use social media, but don’t rely on it for everything. In person contact is better.
You won’t find the perfect job, at least not at first. Focus on jobs that will build your skills, knowledge of the issues, and networks of other contacts. It’s very difficult find a job with all three of those qualities and more.
Your career is not a ladder, it’s a jungle gym. People don’t always follow a linear career path. As long as your next opportunity takes you in more or less the direction you will want to go, take it.
Find ways to integrate your passion into any job. Not every job or department has ”sustainability” or “environment” in the title. If you work as a barista at a coffee shop, work on compostable cups, sourcing organic coffee, or switching to energy efficient lights and appliances. You can make almost any job an environmental job, and doing those projects will connect you with others who share your passion.
Q: What are some great locations where students can start in your field?
GreenCorps gave me the training and experience to make a huge impact on the issues I care about the most. I learned valuable skills and took on a lot of responsibility. I highly recommend the program, but it’s not the only option. There are so many groups working on these issue, from large national organizations to small local groups, and we need action on all fronts. We need smart researchers and wonky capitol hill staff and innovative socially responsible business leaders and motivated grassroots organizers and keen journalists. Find out what your niche is.
—Eleanor Fort, Associate for State and Federal Climate and Energy Policy Program, CERES
Explore Careers in Energy & Environment panelists Meghan Shaw, outreach director for Cambridge Energy Alliance; Gina Coplon-Newfield, director of the Sierra Club’s Future Fleet & Electric Vehicles Initiative; Eleanor Fort, associate for state and federal climate and energy policy program, CERES.
Learn more about pathways to energy and environment careers.
Anthony Arcieri, Director of Undergraduate Career Advising and Programming, Harvard College and School of Engineering and Applied Sciences