Whether in the corporate world, nonprofit realm or the public sector, "green jobs” are on the rise. Yet, there aren’t enough workers with sustainability- and innovation-related skills to meet increasing demand.
On Oct. 19, Arizona State University’s College of Global Futures did what they could to close that gap, connecting their students with over 15 employers through their inaugural Career Exploration Day: Discover Careers with Purpose and Impact, held at the Walton Center for Planetary Health.
The event, led by the college’s career and alumni services staff, was created as an opportunity for students to learn about careers in sustainability and innovation from ASU alumni working at companies, government and nonprofit organizations.
There were more than 200 attendees at the event.
“The turnout was overwhelming, which emphasizes how important this work is, and how well our teams worked together to connect passion-driven students to careers with purpose in our community,” said Sharon Hall, President’s Professor and associate dean in the College of Global Futures.
Alexia Bednarz, an alumna panelist who graduated from ASU with a bachelor's degree in sustainability with a track in urban dynamics, discussed her corporate sustainability roles for U-Haul and her current position as the lead of sustainability and government affairs within the Nikola Corporation.
“Your passion and expertise are needed right now in every industry and in every division,” Bednarz said. “If you don’t see an opportunity, go create one. Be the change you want to see in the world.”
The next panelist was Jeffrey Jennings, who holds two degrees from the College of Global Futures — a bachelor's degree in sustainability and a Master of Science and Technology Policy. In addition to being the director of environmental, social and governance for Leslie’s Pool Supplies, Jennings serves as the vice chair of the College of Global Futures alumni board.
Jennings discussed what a director of environmental, social and governance does, and how rewarding it has been to be able to engage in initiatives that support local communities.
During his portion of the event, Colin Tetreault discussed his circuitous career path that led him to become part of the inaugural graduating class of ASU’s School of Sustainability. Tetreault is the past chair of environmental quality and sustainability commission with the city of Phoenix and is currently a senior manager at Ernst and Young.
“Embrace the spectacular opportunity of being entrepreneurial and non-linear,” Tetreault said. “As you’ve heard, there are a variety of pathways that you can take to be an agent of change, and I encourage you to find yours.”
The last panelist, Gabrielle Lout, joined virtually from Hawaii. She recently graduated from the School for the Future of Innovation in Society with her PhD in human and social dimensions of science and technology.
Lout, who currently serves as the social responsibility program manager for the nonprofit Ocean Outcomes, discussed her passion for exploring the social dimensions of marine conservation and how important relationships are to aligning with the right career path.
After the alumni showcase, students attended an employer expo to learn about mission-driven organizations directly from their staff members and ask questions about launching a high-impact career.
There were over a dozen employers in attendance, ranging from privateBSI, EY, Fusebox, Intel, Leslie’s and Microsoft to nonprofitArizona Sustainability Alliance, Chispa Arizona and The Nature Conservancy to publicthe City of Phoenix’s Zero Waste and Water Services departments, the City of Tempe’s Sustainability and Resilience Office, the Arizona Department of Water Resources, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Peace Corps and the U.S. Department of State sectors.
“An absolutely amazing event connecting our purpose-driven students with impactful careers,” said Eusebio Scornavacca, interim director and professor in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society. “It was great to see many of our alumni and current students engaging with employers.”
“I want to call attention to and express gratitude from the School of Sustainability to everyone that helped make the CGF Career Exploration Day such a success,” said Joshua Abbott, acting director and professor in the School of Sustainability. “I was struck by the quality engagement that was occurring between the employer representatives and students in the tabling event in the atrium.”
The College of Global Futures has a full team of staff dedicated to assisting students and alumni on their career journeys. They offer workshops, individual advising, mentorship opportunities and more.
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