The following blog post was sent in by Stacey Cusack Krauss, Public Relations Manager at TerraCycle Inc. since 2010. A Boston University alum, Stacey previously worked at an entertainment PR agency, but now enjoys telling the TerraCycle story to the world. From planting acorns at recess to setting up recycling bins for her college dorm to starting a paper reuse policy in her office, the environment has always been her biggest passion. We are thrilled to have TerraCycle as a member company (and Partner) on EcoApprentice.
With the unemployment rate depressingly high, it’s hard to find a job these days. It can be even harder to find a job you’re really passionate about. But if the environment is your passion, you’ll be happy to hear there are 2 million “green jobs” and that number is expected to double in the next 5 years. The current administration is putting millions of dollars into creating green jobs and support sustainable industries (the Solyndra debacle aside.)
Here are some tips for landing that green job you’ve been dreaming about from TerraCycle employees that have done it themselves.
When Albe Zakes interviewed for a Publicist position in 2006, TerraCycle founder/CEO Tom Szaky liked him, but didn’t think he had enough experience for the job as a recent college graduate. Rejected but not defeated, Albe went home and wrote an impassioned letter to Tom, explaining why he was perfect for the job. He offered to work as an unpaid intern for two months to prove his point. Tom admired his commitment and passion and agreed to hire him as an intern. Five years later, Albe is now the Vice President of Global Media Relations and a vital asset to the company. As an anecdote, Albe always says it was his Dad who inspired him by telling him, “If you really want to work somewhere, you have to be willing to start by sweeping the floors. You be surprised how many execs started in the mailroom.”
To get in the door at a company you’d really like to work for, you may have to take an unpaid internship or lower-paying position than you originally sought. It might seem like a step backwards, but if it gets you in the door and into a position where you can prove your value to the company, you’ll be one step closer to the job you really want.
Green companies, non-profits and other socially responsible businesses need mid- to upper-level professionals with business, marketing, PR and other useful skills. It might take you some time to reach a level where you’d be an asset to a green company or non-profit. After graduating with a major in Public Relations, I went to work at an entertainment agency in Manhattan that represented various home entertainment, video game and consumer product clients. I thrived in the fast-paced, high-stress environment, but knew that I needed my work to matter in a bigger way. So, with several years of experience under my belt, I started looking to make a move. As soon as I found out about TerraCycle, I knew this was the place for me. I applied, interviewed and practically begged for the job. When I was hired, all those years of torturous work pitching DVDs were suddenly worth the effort.
If you’re trying to get a job in the environmental sector and you’re not gaining any direct experience at your day job, you should think about cultivating your passion in other ways. Whether it’s lending a hand to a local clean-up group or writing for a green living blog, find some way to get involved in your spare time. Not only will this help keep you sane when your day job threatens to suck the life out of you, volunteering, writing and freelancing can boost your resume, showing a very genuine passion that will help you stand out. This way, when the interviewer asks why you want to make the jump with no direct experience, you’ll have more to go on than just words about passion for the planet. The combination of your skills and experience combined with your obvious passion for the cause will make you an attractive candidate. You can also take classes at night in environmental studies, sustainable business or simply a certificate in the job function you want to perform. Just because you want to work at a triple bottom line company, doesn’t mean you don’t still need the hard skills to go with your passion.
We also encourage becoming a member at EcoApprentice to gain practical experience teaming up with businesses or non-profits to solve an EcoChallenge. It will look great on your resume!