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Expect the unexpected: private‐sector careers

Published on: Jul 19, 2019

In 2009, I was listening to an alumni career talk during grad school, hearing from sustainability specialists who went into professions ranging from environmental consulting, to government advising, to various roles in the private sector. I remember thinking that working for a corporation was the last thing I would be interested in. I couldn't have been more wrong. Eight years later, having worked on sustainability issues in nonprofit and government settings and seeing the pivotal role the private sector plays in what I was trying to achieve, I find myself with a private‐sector career, working with agricultural sourcing teams to more effectively address environmental and societal issues. – Emily Kunen

While in my third year as an undergrad, I participated in an NSF‐funded Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU), where I learned how science happened on a day‐to‐day basis. This experience made me realize that I did not want to do research. I loved science, but I also loved opportunities to interact with others to help solve their problems. The REU taught me it is OK to love science and not attend graduate school right away or pursue a career in academia. I eventually did earn an MBA with an emphasis in environmental science, which has been a great fit for my career goals. I use the knowledge I gained in my undergraduate work every day – even though my title is not “scientist” – by supporting the delivery of products that help scientists find answers to questions with direct consequences for the environment and its inhabitants. – Kayla Kemp‐Smith

As an ecologist, you may be well‐suited to a meaningful, high‐impact, and successful career in the private sector. With experience studying interactions between organisms within specific environments and your ability to view environments as complex and interconnected systems with trade‐offs and imperfect solutions, you can bring important perspectives to business operations and help translate technical and scientific information into the language spoken across businesses.

To read the rest of this article in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, please click here.