Last Friday, Feb. 3, the Roberts Environmental Center (REC) hosted its 9th annual Green Careers Conference. The REC is a student-run research institute at Claremont McKenna College involving undergraduates in research and analysis of environmental issues.
The 2023 Green Careers Conference included a wide array of industry representatives and alumni speakers actively involved in environmental work. The conference also included an Athenaeum lunch featuring keynote speaker Stacey Hoppe, vice president for social responsibility and sustainability at Warner Bros.
In her address, Hoppe explained how COVID-19 policies changed work-carpool culture. Since people had to drive separately to social distance, more driving led to increased greenhouse gas emissions. Working through COVID-19 also forced the company to be attentive to environmental laws in other countries while shooting films there.
“It’s not what we typically think of when we think of the role of entertainment companies,” William Ascher, director of the REC and CMC professor of government and economics, said. “But all industries need to be concerned with their impact.”
REC Analyst Cahal Connolly CM ’26 found that the conference widened his scope of understanding regarding potential career opportunities in the environmental industry.
“The event was a great success,” Connolly said. “I got a deeper understanding of what a career in the environmental sector may look like, especially regarding policy, outreach and communication.”
Zoe Spinelli CM ’26, another analyst for the REC, shared the highlight of the conference for her was the informal small-group meetings with panelists, affectionately dubbed “coffee chats.”
“I thought it was really insightful to have the opportunity to speak with these professionals one-on-one,” Spinelli said. “[I got to] ask them specific questions about their line of work and how they got to where they are today.”
Ascher explained that the conference revealed the range and versatility of climate-related careers. Many panelists stressed that their backgrounds and paths were all quite different, but that a wide variety of careers exist that relate to the environment and conservation. As a student, Spinelli appreciated hearing insights about the panelists’ academic path toward their current careers.
“It was a really common theme amongst the panelists to talk about how their pathway to their career was not straight at all and [it] was actually very unexpected for them to end up where they did,” she said. “That gave a lot of students, myself included, the incentive to follow what we are passionate about.”
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