Managing your career is an action and contact sport. To effectively manage your career remember EPIC: Exploration; Preparation, Integration, and Connection. These four related activities provide a framework for managing your professional career.
Exploration - Exploring career options is essential to help you define where you want to go and who you want to become as an environmental professional. Try to schedule regular time in your schedule for information gathering, as this will help you begin to focus your career goals and develop a solid plan for achieving them. Whether it's researching environmental organizations on the Web, networking with seasoned professionals, or just brainstorming ideal jobs with classmates and faculty, exploration is the essential first step in achieving your career goals.
Along with information gathering about environmental jobs and employers, effective career exploration also involves self-assessment. Knowing your interests, skills and values, and choosing work which matches well with them, will increase your career satisfaction and overall success. You can probably verbalize your interests and skills relatively easily, but do you know what kind of organizational culture would suit you best? Identifying your values regarding such things as compensation, professional advancement, job security, autonomy in the workplace, power, creativity and global responsibility, just to name a few, can help you target organizations with value systems that mirror your own.
Preparation - Of course, you've already begun to prepare for your environmental career by coming to the Nicholas School. For example, in many classes you're assigned group projects designed to develop your teamwork skills for addressing and solving environmental problems, which will be essential whether you decide to work in a consulting firm or a nonprofit organization. But you're also aware that career preparation doesn't end when you earn your master's degree. In our rapidly changing world, you'll be expected to update your skills and credentials periodically through continuing education and training.
In addition to your academic preparation, you need to prepare effectively for your internship and post-graduation job search, and there are lots of ways to do that. For example, attending workshops presented by Career Services staff will help you develop a strong resume to present to prospective employers. You can also access information, either online or in the Career Services Office, to help you write a solid cover letter to accompany your resume, become familiar with networking and understand its importance to you, and learn how to prepare yourself successfully for employment interviews. Scheduling an appointment with the career services professional staff will also give you individual time to get your questions answered.
Integration - Can you see the forest for the trees? Can you synthesize and apply everything you've learned along the path of your career development? Pulling together all of the knowledge and skills you've gathered through career exploration and preparation activities, finding the common threads among the many details, and communicating them concisely and effectively is critical. You need to be able to tell prospective employers who you are as an environmental professional, where you're going in your career, and what skills you have to help you get there. As you move forward in your career, plan regularly to review where you've been, evaluate where you're at, and integrate the results of this assessment into a new set of goals for yourself and your professional development.
Connection - No matter where you're at in your career, be it a first-year master's student or a seasoned environmental manager, connecting with people in and outside your field will be essential to your professional development and success. Take the time to talk with faculty about your career goals and get their advice on classes to increase your knowledge about topics you're most interested in. Get to know your Career Services staff so that we can help you locate internship opportunities and connect with prospective employers when you're seeking a job after graduation. Network with Nicholas School alumni and other professionals to get their perspectives on the knowledge, skills and abilities employers are looking for in new hires, as well as job market trends and name of other colleagues you can contact for career advice.