Helping Graduates Launch
Careers of Contribution
by Melissa Everett
When Monster.com asked its audience whether they were interested in work that makes the world a better place, 27% of these mainstream working adults said yes. Another 41% said theyd love that luxury but felt too economically squeezed to give it much attention. Thats a lot of folks wanting their lives to count for something, and a lot of dilemmas about whats realistic in these complicated times.
The Sustainable Careers Institute has been formed to help college and university graduates create working lives that benefit their communities and the planet. It will support students in launching careers that blend personal satisfaction with social and environmental contribution, through vocational choices, ethics on the job, and lives of balance and involvement.
The finance major interested in ecological accounting... the economic development student who is fascinated with employee ownership... the climatologist who hopes to help progressive companies reduce their impacts on global warming...these are a few of the students who will benefit from the Institutes research, counseling, and special programs.
As efforts mount to green the campus and provide more socially engaged learning opportunities, the Institute is building a bridge between visionary academic programs and the real world of work. Its primary partners are career development offices on campuseswhich are, in essence, gatekeepers of possibility for graduates. Programs cover not only work opportunities directly related to sustainable development, but also the potential to contribute to more sustainable modes of economic activity in any line of work, from tourism to food service to banking, in business as well as government and the nonprofit sector. As we serve todays students and the innovative academic programs that will support tomorrows positive social change, we wrestle with approaches to career counseling that encourage social and environmental responsibility in every job decision.
In the 2001-02 academic year, with the support of the Compton Foundation, we are working in partnership with the career centers at two fine universities: the State University of New York at Albany and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. Representing an estimated 25,000 students with diverse backgrounds and interests, the selected campuses are sites for developing and testing new programs that can then be shared more broadly in academia and the career counseling profession.
Our major project for the year is to galvanize the community for participation
in a Public Interest Career Fair March 6 in Albany. Produced jointly with Action
Without Borders, which specializes in nonprofit employment services, this fair
will break new ground by adding a socially responsible business section. This
all-day event will reach out to employers whose products and services include
pollution prevention and resource conservation, energy conservation and renewable
energy sources, environmental restoration and management. Cutting edge businesses
will have the opportunity to
recruit some of the regions brightest graduates and present their visions
of a sustainable future. As we reach out through campus networks to create this
special event, we will be providing discussions, speakers, and other resources
to classes, student groups, faculty advisors and campus media. This grassroots
campaign is designed to raise awareness of ethical dilemmas and opportunities
for leadership in every profession, and show thateven in an
economic downturnthere are rich opportunities for working lives that make
the world a better place.
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