opens IMAGE file “So, what would you like to talk about today?” asked Caroline, my college career counselor, as I walked into her office one morning at the beginning of my senior year.
I didn’t really know how to answer.
I came to her office because I wanted to start planning my job search, but I didn’t even know what kind of job I wanted to look for.
I told her about my goals and fears about starting my post-graduation life, and eventually brought up my predicament. “I want to start planning my job search but I don’t know what kind of job I want,” I confessed, to which she responded with some great advice. She told me to stop focusing so intently on roles and titles and to pay more attention to finding an exciting organization.
I took this advice with me to the UMass nonprofit and social enterprise career fair and went over to the organization that looked the most interesting; the Center for EcoTechnology. Over the past few months, I had begun to garner that I was interested in working in sustainability in some fashion and after speaking to the EcoFellows at the table, I knew I had found a good opportunity.
The EcoFellowship seemed like a great way to combine my interest in sustainability and the environment with the communications skills I had learned in my liberal arts courses and the internships I had in college. It has certainly lived up to my expectations!
My Role as an EcoFellow
As an EcoFellow, I spend a good chunk of my time creating written and visual content to promote our work, services, and products on our social media platforms and website. My communications and marketing tasks include social media management, blog writing, creating ad campaigns, and graphic design.
Additionally, I am responsible for creating and presenting webinars. My fellowship started a few months after we stopped all of our usual in-person outreach events due to the pandemic, and my co-EcoFellow Ozette and I have been tasked with moving all of our outreach online.
We’ve spent a lot of time looking into how to create engaging virtual events and webinars, and we’ve been tasked with implementing the visual and procedural best practices that we’ve learned to the entire organization.
One of my favorite parts of the program has been creating and working on my own projects. It’s really gratifying to be trusted with such big and impactful projects so early on.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I like to start working at 8 so I can take more time for lunch, and my early morning usually consists of creative projects. I usually use this time slot to write or edit blog posts, do research for webinars, write ads and captions for social media, create our weekly e-blast newsletter, or work on a slide deck.
As the day moves along I usually have a meeting or two about upcoming outreach projects, marketing strategy, or a team check-in. My afternoons usually consist of doing home energy assessment verification work for our energy team, using Canva or InDesign to create visuals for marketing campaigns, answering customer questions on social media, optimizing our Google ads account, or working on any long-term projects that I have at the moment.
We also occasionally have introduction meetings with board members on CET’s Board of Directors and EcoFellowship alumni, and we’ll also have the occasional training with a different team within our organization.
Have you enjoyed working remotely?
I’ve enjoyed it more than I thought I would. It’s obviously a bit of a bummer that I haven’t had the opportunity to meet my colleagues in person, and that I’ve missed out on events and random chit chat with people throughout the day but I think CET as a whole has adjusted to the situation as well as they could have.
In lieu of random encounters around the office, CET has organized new hire meet and greets with other teams so we’ve had the opportunity to meet other co-workers despite spending most of our work time with the small Community Engagement team. We also recently got to know CET and our coworkers a little better by attending our virtual all-staff annual meeting.
Our organization is also very interconnected through email, Slack, and Microsoft Teams so it’s always easy to reach out to anyone with any questions you might have. I’m also impressed by how CET’s friendly and welcoming attitude has shined through despite the remote environment.
Working from home also has some major advantages. It’s really nice to not have to commute every day and to have access to your own kitchen for lunch and snacks. I’ve also taken advantage of the remoteness and have lived in four different locations over the course of the past few months.
What skills have you gained during your fellowship?
I’ve gained lots of different skills over the course of my first 5 months that can be applied to many different roles. As a communications and outreach fellow, I’ve (obviously) developed really strong communications skills. I’ve improved my already strong written communication skills, but I’ve also been able to work on visual communications for the first time, and I’m really surprised by how much I enjoy it.
Also, as I mentioned before, I’ve gained really crucial organization and project management skills through my varied work responsibilities and long-term projects. I’ve also been able to build my sales and community building skills working with our outreach program.
Why is this fellowship a unique experience?
There are many things that make this experience unique, but my three favorites are the emphasis on professional development, our ability to lead our own projects, and the EcoFellow network.
Professional development has been really important for me as despite knowing that I’m interested in sustainability and communications, I still don’t entirely know what I want to do for the rest of my career.
One of the things I love about the fellowship is that this attitude of searching is not only accepted but encouraged. We are encouraged to seek out new opportunities within the organization that interest us, and we can take paid work time every once in a while for professional development.
Every EcoFellow also gets matched with a mentor at CET who helps guide you along during your fellowship. I have check ins with my mentor every other week and we discuss my progress, career goals, interests, and new projects that I may be interested in working on.
I’ve also really enjoyed the opportunity to lead my own projects. Most entry level positions don’t offer the opportunity to suggest and implement an idea within your first few months on the job, but I’ve already had the opportunity to do so. So far, I’ve really enjoyed the big picture presentation and virtual outreach redesign project that I’ve been working on and I’ve learned a lot about project management along the way.
The EcoFellow network is also an invaluable part of the EcoFellowship. It’s really great to have 40+ likeminded people to reach out to and ask for career advice. We have monthly meetings with EcoFellow alumni and I’ve really enjoyed learning about the many different opportunities and career paths that will be available to me at the conclusion of my time at CET.