The Green Job Interview
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5. Get Down to Business
If you’re applying for a job with a smaller company, keep in mind that nonprofit organizations and start-ups often have limited resources and so tend to look for people who can competently juggle multiple responsibilities.
Jo Micek, the director of development at El Puente, a nonprofit based in Brooklyn, N.Y., recently raised the funds to create a program manager position within the organization. So when it came time to hire the perfect person for it, Micek put extra effort into finding someone who was not only passionate about El Puente’s mission of supporting diverse activities and social and environmental responsibility in the greater New York community—she needed someone who could handle the business end of the job.
“I wanted this person to be an expert in their field, curious and inquisitive, and to know what’s going on,” says Micek. “But I needed someone to have the skills that this specific position required, including managing and supervising people, compiling letters, making presentations. I also needed someone to be well versed in the nonprofit structure and how we interact with businesses.”
6. Don’t Assume All Green Jobs Go to Young People
If you go into an interview with the idea that green jobs are only going to young people, you’re doing yourself, and your potential employer, a huge disservice.
“I’m 51, and when I was in college, my first major was environmental biology,” says Vance. “Looking at the people involved in the environmental movement, many are middle aged. There’s a nice convergence of people who were once on the cutting edge of the environmental movement and a new generation of students who are very passionate and bring more pragmatism to table.”
7. Ask the Right Questions
No matter what job you’re after, it’s important to ask questions toward the end of your interview. But don’t let your passion get in the way of your professionalism.
“In general, you don’t want to do something that’s going to put an employer on the defensive,” says Vance.
She advises against asking pointed questions about an organization’s sustainability practices and points out that if you’ve done your research, you shouldn’t have to.
8. Don’t Give Up
“It’s a tough job market. So it’s especially challenging to get a green job right now,” says Vance. “The good news is you can always work your values, wherever you are.”
She suggests starting a recycling program in your current office if there isn’t one already or finding ways to make the place where you work or volunteer more sustainable. By doing so, you can turn any job into a green job—which will only make you more impressive in the eyes of future green employers.
About the Author: Emily Farris is a freelance food and lifestyle writer in Kansas City, Mo., and Brooklyn, N.Y. She is the author of Casserole Crazy: Hot Stuff for Your Oven (Penguin Group, Inc., 2008).
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