Environmental Services

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Roles and Work Environment

Today, environmental concerns, such as climate change, are among the most urgent challenges facing our species. Tackling these problems may prove vital to our economic success, our health and safety, and our national security. There are myriad ways that this enthusiasm can be channeled into productive work on behalf of the environment—through government, private industry, nonprofit work and the efforts of individual citizens. Developing clean forms of energy, using policy and technology to remove toxic chemicals from our food, water and air, and ensuring that future generations benefit from preserved parks, forests, watersheds and greenways, are some ways that today’s environmental workers help create a cleaner, healthier, more sustainable future. Environmental workers span a diverse range of career types, skills, goals and backgrounds, and their ranks, by all industry estimates, will continue to expand, making the environmental field an excellent career choice well into the future. (Vault Guide to Environmental Careers)

Professionals who do this work  find themselves engaged in activities that can connect to science, research, and healthcare. advocacy, legislation and current events. When we talk about Environmental Services in the Career Center we focus mainly on scientific and technical roles as well as roles dedicated to the management of physical spaces and communities.

Below is a sample of job titles you might find:

And below you can find a selection of the types of organizations that typically recruit for these roles

Skills and Training

Many of the skills and competencies used in these fields of work have a technical or process oriented side to them.  It is helpful to seek out internships, lab experiences, and trainings that help to inform practice.  It is also important to realize that additional schooling may be necessary beyond the undergraduate level in order to attain the prerequisite training for the positions.  Seek experience with data management, analysis and  remediation tools such as GIS  and CADD. It can also be incredibly beneficial to gain research, lab and fieldwork experience that is more hands on, either via coursework or via volunteer opportunities. While the work may not include the drafting of policy and legislation, having a working knowledge  of conservation policy and initiatives is important. You can gain this by participating in town hall meetings, and connecting to community organizations that focus on these areas.

Opportunities to deepen your network and develop skills:

Industry Timeline

Except for established fellowships or bridge year programs, recruitment for these types of roles occur as the need arises in the organization. Unlike consulting or finance, there are not predictable surges of recruitment activity. It is helpful to look throughout the year for opportunities, conduct informational interviews and follow organizations of interest on social media. For positions in federal, state or local government, most agencies will post or recruit according to their needs, therefore opportunities are available on a rolling basis throughout the year.

Find Opportunities



Applying and Interviewing

Resumes and Cover Letters

Your resume will often be the first impression for a potential employer.  You want to make sure that your resume is succinct, direct, active and specific.  It's also a good idea to ensure that your resume is tailored for the position and for the industry.  Because many positions will also be looking for you to have some content mastery, highlighting relevant coursework can demonstrate your fit for a particular position.

Resume vs CV

You may be asked to submit a CV or a Curriculum Vitae in place of a resume.  What is the difference and when do you know which to use?  Typically a resume is used for positions in business and industry. It is a short (one page) summary of your skills and experiences and is tailored toward the position at hand.  In contrast, a Curriculum Vitae is typically used for applications to graduate school, and for submissions to positions in academia or research intensive positions.  The Curriculum Vitae is much more comprehensive and detailed than what we typically see in a resume, and may span many pages.  In addition to the standard sections you would find on a Resume (Name and Contact Info, Education, Experience, Skills) a CV may have the following categories:

  • Coursework
  • Teaching Experience
  • Research Experience
  • Project Management
  • Conference Presentations
  • Publications
  • Professional Association Membership
  • Programs and Workshops
  • Special Training
  • Certifications
  • Leadership Experience

If you are unsure which version to use, you can always contact someone in the organization to double check which version of your experience to send. Be aware that some organizations will use the word interchangeably, but a good rule of thumb is to use the resume for industry and the CV for academics.  Be sure to look at the resume section of our website for more tips and examples of how to write a resume.

Cover Letters

A cover letter introduces you to a potential employer. Use the position description to make explicit connections between your skills and experience and what the organization is looking for in a candidate. A cover letter could also serve as your introduction to an organization, even if they do not have a position posted. The cover letter should be concise and well-written—if a potential employer reads your cover letter and is intrigued, they will then read your resume. So your cover letter should not repeat your resume verbatim, but enhance it. Together the cover letter and resume can help land you an interview. Review our section on cover letters for more information on how to construct one.


Most interviews will contain a mixture of resume based questions (questions about your past experience) and behavioral based questions (your ability to handle prospective situations at work.  Most positions will begin with an interview that has a mix of these questions, and these may take place in person during On Grounds Interviewing, or via skype or telephone. As you move forward in the process you may encounter more of these basic interviews, but you will probably encounter technical or case related interviews that are designed to test your skills and abilities in particular areas.  You will most likely be asked about skills that you have indicated on your resume, be prepared to provide examples and situations where you have used the skills and processes you claim. You may even be called upon to present and summarize past research and projects.  Review our section on interviewing for more information on how to navigate an interview for a job or internship. You can schedule a mock interview with a career counselor to practice or use Interview Stream to prepare as well.

Additional Industry Resources

If you are interested in exploring and learning more about your industry of interest, then news articles, blogs and professional associations are an invaluable tool in deepening your understanding.  Student memberships in professional associations are often free or offered at a very nominal fee, and can give you access to unique resources, job boards and opportunities that you might not see anywhere else.  Take the time to explore these unique resources.

Blogs and Industry Research

Professional Associations

More to Explore

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