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Millie’s Guide to Geography Degrees & Sustainability Careers

Millie’s Guide to Geography Degrees & Sustainability Careers

Article written by Scarlet Kim based on Millie’s Guide to Geography Degrees & Sustainability Careers.

Are you interested in exploring the interaction between the environment and humans? Find out how you can turn that interest into a career.

Millie spoke to three professionals in our panel “Millie’s Guide to Geography Degrees & Sustainability Careers about their experiences as students and industry experts in the field.

Our panelists were:

  • Anya Bukshi: Development, Geography & Environment (MSc) at London School of Economics & Political Science (‘17), Strategy Consultant at Accenture Strategy
  • Claire Leone: Sonoma State University (‘19), Sustainability Analyst & Verifier at Apex LLC
  • Julia Higson: Geography & Anthropology (BS) at Schreyer Honors College at Penn State University (‘18), Landscape Designer at Jones & Jones Architects + Landscape Architects + Planners

How do you start studying geography/sustainability?

Entering the field of geography/sustainability cannot be defined as a fixed path. You may start studying it during university or in graduate school or even encounter it for the first time in your workplace.

Julia entered university with a passion for the environment but without deciding on a major. She spent her first year taking various elective courses to find one that suited her interests and ended up taking a geography class that ticked all of her boxes.

Anya, who studied PPE during her undergraduate, initially took up consulting. She realized that she was interested in sustainability and decided to “reset the tone” of her career and pursue her passion by studying Development, Geography & Environment at LSE.

What are some interesting aspects of geography/sustainability?

As all of our mentors agree, geography/sustainability is a broader field than most people expect. Students have an infinite range of knowledge they can acquire, not only in their major but also in related areas such as cartography and anthropology.

Claire shared that this aspect of geography/sustainability leaves students with an immense breadth of career choices. Geography/sustainability is a field that merges the quantitative side and the social elements of the world. Depending on your perspective on how you wish to apply your knowledge to the world, so many different career paths can be generated.

“Depending on how you want to apply your knowledge to the world, so many different career paths can be generated.”

What are some common misconceptions about geography and sustainability?

#1. Geography is basically physical geography.

Not at all! Some people think that geography is simply about studying topography and remembering the names of the continents and countries of the world. However, there is more to geography than these. The human side of geography explores cultural and ecological aspects of the world and how these interact with the physical elements.

#2. It is hard to get a job with a geography degree.

No. This misconception arises from the fact that geography is a broad subject. The reality is that the breadth of geography makes it even more accessible for students to discover their niche and specialize in their own career paths. Claire, for instance, worked in the fields of data analysis, fashion, and verification.

#3. Working in sustainability means that you are always outdoors.

This isn’t true! Although we immediately visualize people going on environmental rallies and demonstrations when we think of sustainability careers, there are so many different professions people can take, even within the field of sustainability. Some examples are sustainable fashion design, renewable energy engineering, and environmental consulting.

#4. Anyone can get into sustainability, even without professional knowledge.

This is a misconception arising from the fact that many people think sustainability is an area they can enter purely with passion. Although this is about half correct, as you do need to have a lot of love for the field, you still have to get a lot of education and experience before becoming a sustainability professional. These can be earned through formal education or self-studying.

“Geography/sustainability students have an infinite range of knowledge they can acquire.”

What are some careers in geography/sustainability?

Here are a few career paths in geography/sustainability that you might consider:

  • Government: One of the largest demands for geography/sustainability experts comes from governments. They are in constant need of people that would ensure that their plans align with the environmental policies. Some examples of jobs available would be urban planners or landscape architects, environmental consultants, and arborists.
  • Non-profit organization/NGO: This is another go-to for people seeking a career in geography/sustainability. Many non-profit organizations and NGOs focus on the environment, which makes it appealing for those interested in purely working for the environment, amidst many other associated careers in geography/sustainability.
  • United Nations: Intergovernmental/International organizations like the United Nations continuously seek sustainability professionals, as protecting the environment is a task that cannot be achieved by a single nation alone. UNEP - UN Environment Programme is a division that specifically concentrates on sustainability.
  • Energy: Renewable energy is slowly moving into the limelight of companies and governments wishing to seek a sustainable yet environmental-friendly source of energy. Renewable energy engineers are hence becoming one of the most wanted professions, even in the engineering field. If you studied engineering and would like to get into sustainability, you should definitely consider this option.

Before you leave, make sure you watch the full panel for more helpful advice.

If you would like to start exploring the majors and careers in geography and sustainability, book a free consultation today to explore what your options are.