Massachusetts Green Career Conference

17 Oct

On October 4th, I attended the Massachusetts Green Career Conference in Marlborough and had an overall great experience. I was a little hesitant to go because I am from the West coast and though I am trying to keep my options open, staying in MA after graduation does not always sound appealing. But I decided to register and even found two other students to carpool with. The conference sounded amazing – looking through the website, there were a large range of speakers, resources, and a raffle for attendees.

The day started with a keynote panel with six different speakers from a range of backgrounds. The speaker that stood out the most to me was Greg Watson, an expert on agriculture in Massachusetts. He explained the basic system of farming in New England and then went on to praise the great efforts of small Massachusetts farmers. I was impressed by how much he knew about agriculture in this area and by how complex farming can be when you try to be sustainable. Watson did a great job of showing how local farmers have promoted themselves to be key players at the state and national level because they have found new ways to innovate their practice; everything from promoting buying locally, preserving lands, to establishing youth programs to get the youth excited about farming. He also touched upon how farmers have found ways to be part of the clean energy movement by installing wind farms on their property or building methane digesters to produce bio-gas.

After the initial introduction speech, I attended a session titled, “Sustainability, Building, Energy, Farm & Food Systems.” It started off a little slow with a presentation on the Sustainable Energy Program at Greenfield Community College, but it was interesting to see how a school with fewer faculty resources  and a different student demographic than Smith is able to create a program that is so successful. The last part of this session was a presentation by Rebecca Owens. She started off by explaining her background as a student and new graduate and then went on to speak about the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and their work on college campuses. I had the honor of sitting at the same table as Owens during lunch and got to hear, in more detail, about her path to where is now. She also gave me many ideas and advice on things that can be done on the Smith campus to improve student involvement and increase awareness.

One of my favorite parts about this conference were the coaching sessions. For no extra charge, you could sit with a career coach for twenty minutes and talk about anything that you personally needed help with. I did my session with Amanda Peters, an MIT Career Counselor, and  it was a great help. I walked in with a few general questions about grad schools and internships and my resume on hand. We talked a bit about what possible direction I could take with my current interests and possible internships that I should apply to. I mentioned an internship that I was thinking about and Amanda got right on changing my resume to fit the internship and highlight my strong points. I was surprised by how much she cared about increasing my chances to get this internship.

Overall, I am very glad I attended this conference because it showcased jobs and possible options for me that I did not know existed. It was a very good resource in just general job and grad program searches and, especially helpful in searching for green careers. I know I got a lot out of my attendance and would like to thank Joanne Benkley and CEEDS for not only providing the information on this conference, but also providing a way for Smithies to attend.

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