A few years ago, I went back to school and then totally pivoted my life from working in art-tech and tech start ups to working (mostly, volunteering) on climate and climate change-related issues. I run a community compost hub, do tons of writing and education, landed my first book deal (just wrapping the first draft now!), and have been going full-steam... but not making any money. :)

I am looking at the landscape around me and wondering:

- How do I start being more deliberate about pursuing a career in this field?

- Do I need to go back to school officially? (I've gotten certifications through local colleges, etc., and learned by doing tons of volunteer field work)

- What does a career in this field even look like?

- Are any of you out there working in climate or for cool climate companies?

I'm trying to rebuild my network from scratch and connect with others in climate, activism, policy, etc., but don't even know hwere to begin. Any thoughts, advice, companies I could check out... all would be warmly welcomed!!

congrats on all that you've accomplished in your career to date :) career pivots are not an easy things to do! Couple of questions for you- what function would you like to go into? I understand you are making an industry switch , but are you also making a role switch? A career in climate can look like a LOT of things ie if you want to be in a BD, sales, ops, or technical role, it won't be any different than at a tech startup (in any field) as it will mostly depend on the product, the buyer's profile etc.- what degree would you want to get? i think it's more important that you get some experiences even if it's freelance than put yourself out of the job market for 1 year or 2- i invest in climate companies, lots of cool ones popping up like - you might like the bloom it's a newsletter focused on social impact / tech for good
All great questions! Ha! I do presume my strengths in my old tech life would still apply here (building mission-based orgs, brand/community, content) - but in context of orgs focused on climate. Not sure, re: degree. It seems like there's a range that give you credibility in the field, but I'm also not sure if that credibility is needed. I've heard about people getting hired as Sustainability Officers with no specific background (but who often end up having no idea what their job is meant to be). So cool that you invest in climate companies! Do you have a venture firm or are you a partner at one? I will check out Concentro! And also Bloom. Thank you so much for these tips.
Hi! So you'd say you're more in the content side of things? I guess I am curious what type of key words would you be inputting when doing a search? Like for instance would this role be a fit (grant writing etc) recommend doing more research on the degree front - what do you want to get out? For what type of roles (hence my above questions)? ie do you need technical experience in which case getting a master's or even a doctoral degree would help but then what does the opp cost look like? Another one for you for jobs in climate! And a combo of both - I run a venture firm!
I am a great writer, but my understanding of grant writing is that it's a specialized kind of skillset - one that I unfortunately do not have experience with. (Although I could gain that experience, as this is something foundations and nonprofits etc really need!) Since my experience is with very early-stage startups, I am very jack-of-all-trades-y (blessing and curse). I'm great at filling in the gaps when a team is like... two people and the founder... and I am also happiest doing that. I don't really have the specialization, unfortunately, to go for a full-time marketing or comms or brand role somewhere. (I don't think.) I signed up for climate tech list, though! Seems so ideal for me and what stage of company I operate best in. Thank you so much!And very cool, re: venture firm. :)
Makes sense! Given that context and where your skillsets lie, you most definitely will need to network your way into and talk to people to "sell" your skills IRL and then maybe find other ealry-stage opportunities! My observation is the traditional foundations and more standard climate organisations are optimising to fill roles with people who have done that same role before (especially in today's market)
That's really exciting! Since you have experience in art and writing, could you pivot into the industry by working for a marketing team at a climate positive companY?
I hope so! Haha
Good luck to you!
- How do I start being more deliberate about pursuing a career in this field? I think that depends on how you best show up in the world, what your core values are, AND the health of your self-worth. You pivoted and are passionate about your current pursuits for a reason. Once you can understand those reasons as they relate to YOU, it's easier to recognize the value exchange of what you do/provide for those that see value (and pay you for it), and lean into sharing your gifts in exchange for currency. - Do I need to go back to school officially? (I've gotten certifications through local colleges, etc., and learned by doing tons of volunteer field work)In this day and age I love how so many are creatively navigating how to leverage education and/or experience to pursue their passions/careers. I think you KNOW, deep down, what the answer is to this, FOR YOU. I have a tool that helps people understand their responses to these kinds of questions, and you use the information from those responses to better understand how to make more aligned decisions going forward. I'm happy to share if that feels helpful (just let me know). - What does a career in this field even look like?Do you see anyone actively living this out? Do you want your path to look like those that have gone before you? What inspired you to shift into this line of work? Do you feel more inclined to create it your own way (while preserving the pieces that ARE relevant and necessary)? I can think of several things from urban farming to National Park roles to companies and initiatives addressing climate issues that all come back to one focus - creating better stewards of the Earth through action AND education. Where do you feel drawn? Where are you hoping to "land" (or feeling guided to)?- Are any of you out there working in climate or for cool climate companies? I'm not. I've talked with an environmental scientist who developed a process for removing PFOS from water, as well as a National Park Ranger who excelled at educating others through connection with local ecosystems AND by using story. I've seen art exhibits that speak to the waste and pollution of the clothing industry (and share how to shift this and what efforts are being made). I've watched documentaries that show how some are courageously disrupting how we consume, and taking a lot of what we do back to a more intentional way of living, in order to bring harmony back to the planet. A lot of people are doing a LOT of really cool things. Is there a specific geographical area, initiative or long-term objective that speaks to you?(P.S. There are also volunteering platforms where you can exchange room and board for your hands-on assistance, and the opportunities can be filtered by geographical location or initiative if you prefer). - Networking..... It's interesting how often we make WHO we connect with more of a priority than actively sharing what we do with so much passion and intention that OTHERS help us build those connections. David Meltzer talks a lot about this - Allowing others to provide value instead of what might feel like a cringy ask/connection.
hi! Would LOVE to see the tool you mention, re: decision-making and people's reactions to questions about school. One of the big struggles in my arena is that ... nobody really pays any money. I've looked into roles at NPS and even what it would be like to become a working scientist, and it's crazy how little the pay is and how extremely competitive the few opportunities that exist are. It's honestly demoralizing. Sometimes, it feels like the only way to make a living is to become a TiKTok influencer and get brand deals (blah, not for me). I guess my primary concern is how to make a living right now. And I'd love to try and do that while working in at least a vaguely aligned way with my values. I am doing the work that I feel drawn to and have been for about four years now - working with soil, educating people, writing, helping my community. I just am not making *any* money and have been operating at a loss while living on a razor margin budget. Maybe part of pivoting into this career is just accepting that?
I'll message you the tool I mentioned!I HEAR you on the "not for me" part. I'm the same way. The belief that "nobody really pays any money" isn't helpful. And it's something that stems from something well before your time, I'm sure. Scarcity mindset and the "starving artist"........ Are you in any spaces where you are witnessing abundance, especially in the areas you've mentioned (climate change, activism, policy)? We generally find/experience what we focus on - What if the focus was shifted?
Love that you are asking the question about being deliberate about pursuing a career. Simply by asking that question - you are already becoming deliberate. One of the things I like to start with on this front is getting really in tune with what you want from the career, how does it look, how does it feel, what kind of impact are you making through the work. With this clarity, you can understand better the next steps you need to take. As Marie mentioned below - You already know the answer to the question: "Do I need to go back to school for this?" It's inside of you. Networking is going to be the best way to start to understand what a career looks like - look at things from a very broad range, because you might be surprised what you find. Check out Insignia Environment as a company ( I work with them on the Leadership Development through both group coaching and one-on-one coaching. They do something that I never considered as being part of the conversation around climate and might interest you. I also know they are hiring for amazing people. And if you are interested in talking to someone over there about their experience and career path - let me know. Happy to make an introduction.
Jamie, thank you so much for this wonderful response—I really appreciate it. This company looks incredible. If there is somebody over there willing to have a conversation with somebody with a lot of experience, yet somehow still getting started (ha), I would be insanely grateful. Thank you so much!