SW22: A Day Long Career (Af)fair

By Tanvee Kanaujia

Repost from The Graduate Press.

The Sustainability Career Fair took place virtually on 24 March 2022 from 09:00 to 18:00, as part of Sustainability Week (SW) Geneva, organized by the Graduate Institute and the University of Geneva. Medha Manish and I, representing the Environmental Committee, worked closely with Career Services for over three months to curate an eclectic list of organizations in the field of sustainability to participate in our SW Career Fair. In the end, over 11 organizations joined us. They included international organizations like FAO, UNEP, UNCTAD, and ADPC, non-governmental organizations like WEF, think tanks and research organizations like CIES and IISD, impact investing firms like AlphaMundi and Symbiotics, as well as other organizations promoting innovation and cooperation in the environment sector, namely SDG Solution Space and Geneva Environment Network. 

Coming on the heels of the UN Career Days, the format of each SW Career Fair session included a presentation from the organization for about 20 minutes followed by a Q&A session, where participants were strongly encouraged to turn on their videos and microphones to have face-time with the organizations. The presentations provided an insightful window into the diverse work being carried out by their respective organizations in the field of sustainability, and the latter’s close interconnections with nearly all aspects of life, such as trade, technology and innovation. 

In addition to providing an overview of the skills that prospective applicants should possess, the presenters shared many valuable lessons for young professionals hoping to carve a niche for themselves in the field of sustainability. For instance, the director of the FAO in Geneva, Mr. Burgeon, reminded students that it is key to take  the mandate of the organization into account when applying to jobs and to be passionate about it, as the work organizations do will touch many lives in different parts of the world. The representatives from the World Economic Forum, namely Mr. Monkelbaan, Ms. Verghese and Mr. Gygax, stressed the importance of taking initiative at the workplace and seeing your work to completion while collaborating in a multicultural environment. However, it was the message of Mr. Maillart, speaking on behalf of  SDG Solution Space, that resonated the most with me. He said that as youth in the field of sustainability, we must carry out a gentle rebellion and bring our innovative solutions to the fore. 

A recurring line of questions posed to the speakers in different sessions pertained to how they deal with eco-anxiety, when much of their work exposes them to the constantly deteriorating state of the environment and the seemingly irreversible effects of climate change. I was simultaneously surprised and motivated by the responses, with many speakers emphasizing that we must not be bogged down by the negativity. Instead, we must channel this anxiety towards finding solutions to environmental problems, and be hopeful that our solutions will come to fruition.

I would be remiss if I did not mention that participating in a career fair can also be discouraging, as you realize, one session after another, that landing an internship or your dream job is going to be no easy feat. Some sessions can be repetitive in reiterating the required skill-sets to work at these organizations, some of which you may not yet possess. However, I do believe that these sessions can turn into an opportunity to learn more about these organizations, be informed about their policies, and decide for yourself if the organization is the right fit for you, as opposed to you being the right fit for the organization. 

If you have any feedback on the SW Career Fair, please do not hesitate to reach out to Career Services, or me. I must admit, although it was time-consuming, organizing the SW Career Fair was a highlight of this semester for me, and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did! 

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