What the BOW Sustainability Certificate Did for Me

By Emily Shackleton '14

 

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Emily Shackleton finished her coursework at Olin in December, and will soon begin her new job as Project Engineer with Demand Management Institute (DMI), an energy efficiency consulting firm.  Emily was one of the first graduates from Babson, Wellesley and Olin who were eligible to receive a Certificate in Sustainability for her extra work in this area. 

The Babson-Olin-Wellesley Sustainability Certificate Program educates students to make use of the skills, tools, and concepts from liberal arts, business, and engineering to address environmental challenges, and works to move individuals and society to more sustainable practices.  Requirements include an introductory course, a synthesis course and three electives from a pre-approved list.   A requirement of several of these classes is (of course!) a sustainability-related project.  

In a recent conversation, Emily shared the benefits of attaining and being able to talk about this certificate with potential employers during the interview process. 

 

I understand you were one of the first graduates from Olin to attain a Sustainability Certificate.  Can you explain what that means?

The sustainability certificate program is a tri-college initiative, and the goal is for students to explore, understand, and ultimately address real-world sustainability challenges, integrating approaches from all the college disciplines.

What made you decide to get it?

Coming into Olin, I was already interested in environmental studies, and potentially pursuing a career related to the field. I actually first heard about the certificate program before it was offered, from my meteorology professor at Babson. Then the next year, I took a class with Jon Stolk (who was involved in creating the program and teaching the introductory course) and he convinced me to take the introductory course.

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Travelling with Trevor Hooton in India after our summer internship at NRB Bearings

Do you feel it has helped you at all in the job search?

Absolutely!  I honestly think it's a big part of the reason I got the job at DMI. Having experience working directly with an outside organization on sustainability issues (during the capstone project) was incredibly valuable during the application process.   As someone looking for a career in sustainability, it was definitely one of the highlights of my resume. And I felt confident talking about the capstone project during job interviews, which in my case ended up being relevant to most of the jobs I applied to. I even used work I had done for the class as a writing sample for one of my job applications.

 

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Working with Heidi Nafis during an ADE India trip         

What were the best parts of getting this certificate?

I really enjoyed working with students from the other colleges. I think sustainability is a particularly compelling platform for collaboration across the three schools.   Students from each of the schools seemed to be equally passionate about the subject, but brought different strengths and perspectives to the conversation. It was also nice to get to know students from the other colleges who shared similar interests.

Specifically, I took someinteresting classes, like "Social Causes and Consequences of Environmental Issues" and "Environmental Ethics" at Wellesley.  For the introductory class, I worked on the 'water sector' team, and we analyzed the water use for a specific area in Wellesley.   For the capstone project I worked on a team to advise a hospital on how to reduce its energy consumption. We told them how to select the most appropriate energy conservation projects, and made some of our own recommendations. We also came up with different schemes for funding these projects, as well as programs to encourage behavioral changes within the hospital to reduce its energy consumption.

 

What kind of work will you be doing in your new job at DMI?

I'll be touring different client facilities to collect information, and then assess the various energy conservation opportunities available to the client and make recommendations based on my findings. To begin, I will be under the advisement of an experienced engineer at the company, but eventually I'll be able to take on these types of projects on my own.

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In Ghana for my semester off           

I would highly recommend any student interested in sustainability to consider participating in this program. It really wasn't a huge commitment in terms of course requirements; and the classes I took for the program ended up being some of my favorites. I also think it gave me a huge advantage in applying for jobs, especially related to the field.  And now I can't wait to start my new job, working on energy efficiency projects!

Posted in: A Broader World View, A Different Path, Making a Difference