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Career Coaching and Pathways

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Are you ready for the next step in your career?

The employment market for global sustainability professionals is booming and there is a wide variety of jobs at all levels and in all sectors, including business, government, and civil society organizations. Areas of focus range from climate and energy, to food and agriculture, to water and health. These jobs are in large and small organizations located in cities and rural areas worldwide. 

We already have sufficient science and technology to address most environmental challenges; what we lack is effective leadership to create new opportunities for sustainable development. 

CLiGS Career Coaching

All graduate students have access to personal career coaching as soon as you are accepted by the Graduate School, so you don’t have to wait until classes begin to start working with our career coaches and continue to use their services up to two years post graduation.

Even if you have a solid grasp of your values and skills, career coaching can help you:

  • Think strategically about your key accomplishments
  • See how you can apply your previous experience and expertise in a new field
  • Focus your energy on the best next steps
  • Develop a career path that leads to the work you really want to do 
  • Evaluate and expand your professional network

Meet our career advisors and coaches 

Kerry Spitze
Kerry Spitze

Kerry Spitze is our liaison career advisor from the Virginia Tech Office of Career and Professional Development. Kerry provides career advising and coaching to graduate students enrolled in programs based in the Washington, D.C. area. First and foremost, Kerry is available for individual career advising and coaching. Some of the most common topics she talks with students about include career exploration and/or transition; resume/CV and cover letter reviews; networking strategies; LinkedIn profile and professional branding; job search planning; interview strategy and practice interviews; and salary negotiation techniques. Prior to joining Virginia Tech, Kerry served as the Career Services Manager for the professional master’s programs in the College of Agriculture & Life Sciences at Cornell University, following her role as the Career Support Manager for the Master of Engineering program in the College of Engineering. Kerry also served as the Assistant Director of Industry and Community Engagement at Ithaca College, and has also worked as an academic advisor in several state colleges and universities.

Trish Kenlon

Trish Kenlon coaches Virginia Tech students on effective resume development. She is the founder of Sustainable Career Pathways, a popular website and sustainability career coaching service. Her practice focuses on helping graduate students and mid-career professionals with transitioning into roles in the sustainability space. She is a frequent contributor of career expertise to the Environmental Defense Fund Climate Corps community, and has been featured on several podcasts, including "Sustainability Defined" and "Degrees” with Yesh Pavlik Slenk. Prior to SCP, Trish worked in sustainability roles for the fashion retailer Ann Taylor, the Environmental Defense Fund, and TXU Energy. She has also worked in project management and consulting roles for IBM, CGI, and Bank of America. She is an alumna of Carnegie Mellon University, the NYU Stern School of Business, and the EDF Climate Corps.

Kathy Miller Perkins
Kathy Miller Perkins

Kathy Miller Perkins is a psychologist and a leadership and career coach. In her role as the owner and CEO of a consulting firm, she has assisted leaders of global corporations and educational institutions. Kathy directs a research program exploring the culture and leadership characteristics of successful purpose-driven organizations. She authored the book, Leadership and Purpose: How to Create a Sustainable Culture, and writes regularly for Kathy obtained her B.A. and M.A. from Indiana University and her Ph.D. in Social Psychology from the University of Kentucky. She is currently pursuing B Corps certification—a designation for businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.

Top Competencies

As the sustainability field matures, employers look for skills beyond technical expertise. The issues and challenges are complex, global, and interconnected. People working on solving these challenges need to have the ability and the training to think strategically and systemically, and work collaboratively across many disciplines. Do you have these skills?

  • Engaging with stakeholders
  • Planning and developing strategy
  • Influence and persuasion
  • Conducting research and analysis
  • Project management
  • Measuring and reporting impact

Salaries and the Value of a Master’s Degree

According to industry reports, the average annual salary of employees in the Environmental, Health, Safety, and Sustainability field is approximately $100,000, with 45% making more than that amount, and there has been an upward trend in recent years. Employees with master’s degrees earn approximately 10% more than those without. The value of a master’s degree accrues over time, becoming increasingly valuable with age, easily exceeding $250,000 over the course of a thirty-year career. Learn more on our blog: 

Career and Professional Development Resources

  • Resources and services provided by Kerry Spitze (our lead career advisor) and Virginia Tech's Career and Professional Development
  • Sustainability career information and networks
  • Sustainability job boards and job search tips

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