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The Green Life: Quiz: Which Green Career is Right for You?

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March 18, 2013

Quiz: Which Green Career is Right for You?

Green career

It's never too early or too late to launch a new career. Whether you’re a student stumped about your post-grad future or a professional stuck in a mid-career rut, our green career series will help you find your path. This week, we’ll outline job requirements and highlight training programs and internships that can help you build the skills and network you need to jump-start your career.

Still not sure which professional path to pursue? Take our short quiz to learn which eco-friendly gig might be the best fit for your personality.

Quiz: Which Green Career is Right for You?

  1. Close your eyes. Imagine your ideal work environment. What are you doing and how are you dressed?
      a. Backpacking through southern California’s San Jacinto mountains, in full hiking gear, chronicling your trek through a video and blog post.
      b. On a rooftop garden or greenhouse, wearing your trusty jeans, t-shirt, tennis shoes, gardening gloves, and sun hat.
      c. Bobbing on a boat out at sea in a t-shirt, shorts, and sandals, studying orca social structure.
      d. In a corporate office advising business executives, wearing a button-down shirt, skirt/slacks, and dress shoes.
      e. In your office, dressed in a smart suit as you write a legal brief for your latest case, this time involving a group of families with asthma caused by a local coal plant.

  2. Quick! Classes are filling up, and you can only squeeze one elective into your schedule next term.  What do you sign up for?
      a. Journalism/communications
      b. Agriculture/botany
      c. Biology/ecology
      d. Business/marketing
      e. Law

  • You’re most likely to be caught reading...
      a. Sierra magazine’s Explore blog
      b. Fine Gardening
      c. National Geographic/Audubon
      d. The Wall Street Journal
      e. Mother Jones

  • How do you spend your downtime?
      a. Editing a video of your kayaking trip down the Rio Grande for your travel vlog.
      b. Getting your hands dirty in your vegetable garden.
      c. Bird-watching at your local park.   
      d. Staying up-to-date on stock prices.
      e. Advocating to shut down a nearby toxic waste plant.

  • You’re at the mall on a Saturday, and a grassroots campaigner approaches you. You stop and listen intently to his/her pitch because it’s about...
      a. A new travel website featuring guest bloggers.  
      b. A service project to plant fruit-bearing trees in a low-income neighborhood. 
      c. An initiative to designate a local whale breeding ground as a marine sanctuary.  
      d. A new start-up company that spends a portion of its proceeds on planting trees. 
      e. A petition to stop a company from dumping hazardous waste in local waterways.

  • Congratulations! You’ve won the lotto. How do you spend your money?
      a. Film a documentary on gorilla conservation efforts in Tanzania.
      b. Plant a community garden in an inner-city vacant lot. 
      c. Build a rehabilitation center for injured and orphaned animals. 
      d. Buy a hundred shares of Tesla stock.
      e. Donate a million dollars to EarthJustice’s Visions of the Arctic campaign to suspend Arctic ocean drilling.

  •  How would your friends describe you?
      a. A storyteller. You love sharing your adventures through a broad range of media, from writing to video.
      b. A plant lover. Nothing says heaven quite like a morning spent kneeling in the soil, planting seeds and pulling weeds.
      c. An animal nut. You want to protect Earth’s precious creatures and their habitats.
      d. A confident people-person. You enjoy assessing situations and helping others decide what action to take. And you actually enjoy giving presentations.
      e. A debater. You speak quickly and eloquently, and you always argue for what’s right.

  • What gets on your nerves?
      a. People who have no interest in learning about other places or cultures, or important issues.
      b. An inner-city neighborhood devoid of grocery stores selling fresh produce.
      c. An ocean filled with trash that can choke or strangle animals. 
      d. Big corporations that don’t invest in sustainable practices, like recycling e-waste.
      e. Power plant companies that don’t care how their emissions affect the health of nearby residents.

  • Who is your eco-idol?
      a. John Muir, Sierra Club founder
      b. Jessica Alba, sustainable living activist
      c. Jane Goodall, world-renowned primatologist and anthropologist
      d. Paul Freundlich, founder of Green America: Economic Action for a Just Planet
      e. Brenda Mallory, General Counsel – Chief Legal Advisor to the EPA

  • You flop onto the sofa and flip on the TV.  What channel do you turn to?
      a. National Geographic Channel
      b. HGTV
      c. Discovery Channel
      d. Bloomberg TV
      e. Court TV
  • Mostly a’s: With your knack for telling a good story, you’ll probably find success as an environmental journalist. Shrinking newsrooms mean that journalists nowadays need to know how to tell stories across multiple platforms, from online to video. And in today’s digital landscape, they should also have a willingness to learn and experiment with new technology. But amid this changing landscape, storytelling remains the core of good journalism. Journalists see stories where others don’t, informing and engaging the public about people, places, and issues that they might not otherwise notice. The world needs journalists who can translate complex environmental issues clearly and engagingly to a general audience. Read more about environmental journalism.

    Mostly b’s: A career in urban agriculture might fit as snugly as your favorite gardening gloves. Urban farmers grow, process, and distribute food around a city. Urban farming can also involve raising animals for food. Thanks to urban farms, cities can have relatively easy access to fresh, seasonal produce, without relying on trucks or other diesel-guzzling, exhaust-billowing forms of transportation. They can play a crucial role in improving food access and security in underserved communities with few grocery stores. Often grown on rooftops and patios, they also brighten up city hardscapes, cool the air, and reduce harmful runoff. Read more about urban farming.

    Mostly c’s: With your strong sense of stewardship toward animals, a career in wildlife biology might be just for you. Wildlife biologists often study animals in their natural habitats, learning about their feeding, mating, and/or social habits. They collect field specimens for laboratory analysis and, like other scientists, publish their research in academic journals. They might also teach at universities and educate the public about conserving wildlife and preserving their habitats. Read more about wildlife biology.

    Mostly d’s: Apply your business- and people-savvy as a sustainable planning consultant. These consultants give businesses the tools and information they need to reduce their environmental impact. They help evaluate sustainable development requirements and develop and implement strategies to help companies go green. For example, a sustainable planning consultant might help a company choose an alternate form of energy, like solar panels, or start an initiative to reduce the company's carbon footprint by 25 percent in five years. Read more about sustainability consulting.

    Mostly e’s: Your compelling oratory and sharp critical thinking skills could make you a brilliant environmental lawyer. Environmental attorneys focus on litigation dealing with a wide variety of concerns, from air and water quality to wildlife protection. These lawyers develop policies and engage in lawsuits to halt environmental damage, compel waste cleanup, tighten regulations, or compensate individuals for harm due to environmental contamination.  They’re crucial advocates, preventing the government and corporations from engaging in practices that could hurt the environment and local residents.  But an environmental attorney might also represent government agencies and businesses by working on environmental impact planning and sustainable growth and development. Read more about environmental law.

    This week we'll profile each of these eco-professions and provide tips for getting your foot in the door.

    Image by istockphoto/Igor Mojzes

    --Melissa Pandika with help from Brittany Johnson

    HS_Melissa_BLOGMelissa Pandika is an editorial intern at Sierra and a graduate journalism student at Stanford University. Her interests include environmental health and justice, urban environmental issues, and conservation biology. She has a soft spot for cetaceans.


    HS_Brittany_BLOGBrittany Johnson is an editorial intern at Sierra. Her interests include social and environmental justice specifically among underrepresented and disadvantaged communities. She majored in Global Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, taught English in Tanzania and answered phones in various offices before joining the Sierra family.

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