‘Network, network, network’: One youth’s advice after the “Green Jobs are for Everyone” Workshop Series

May 10, 2021

Headshot of Elina smiling at the camera, she says you should network

Up to 70% of jobs aren’t posted on job boards, according to this CNBC article.

Elina Shahmirian’s advice?

“Network, network, network,” she said. “Attend conferences, participate in workshops, reach out to professionals on LinkedIn, learn about your field and the different opportunities. Listen to people who are in the position you want and learn from them.”

Shahmirian, from Toronto, Ontario, is a mentee in Project Learning Tree Canada (PLT Canada)’s Green Mentor Program. Shahmirian studied psychology during her undergrad and got her master’s degree in forest conservation with a collaborative specialization in environmental studies at the University of Toronto. While the two majors seem completely different, Shahmirian sees a connection that she wants to explore in her career. The mental health aspect of psychology is connected to urban forestry, which is important for cognitive development and overall health.

But she has met some people who are skeptical of her career pathway. They have the old-school mentality that you should stick with one field until you retire.

“It’s not like that anymore. People change their careers so many times. And that’s not a weakness. That is a strength,” said Shahmirian. “You can bring new ideas, and that’s where innovation comes from.”

Shahmirian attended PLT Canada’s “Green Jobs are for Everyone” Workshop Series and Career Connections Fair in March. One of her biggest takeaways from the event was that everyone’s journey is different, and your path will change because you might encounter opportunities you never knew existed.

And she had a suggestion for Green Jobs employers.

“Give newcomers to the field a chance,” she said. “Everyone has something to offer; just keep in mind that not everyone might have the full package of education and experience. But everyone needs to start from somewhere. If someone’s motivated, they will work really hard. They want to be there. They’re willing to learn, they’re willing to develop their skills, and they’re just looking for that chance. During the hiring process, look for those qualities, not necessarily the black and white on a resume.”

Shahmirian said she thinks anyone with an interest or passion for Green Jobs should be able to pursue one. And Green Jobs can look many different things—it could be in the field, but it could be an office job like HR too.

“I think that making Green Jobs accessible to everyone will be very beneficial since the green sector is multidisciplinary and is growing really rapidly,” she said. “Including that diversity will just make the sector stronger.

And Shahmirian had one final piece of advice for youth: take advantage of the programming offered by organizations like PLT Canada.

“I’ve seen myself grow,” she said. “I still have a lot to do, don’t get me wrong. But I find that my confidence to reach out to someone and ask for advice has grown. I wouldn’t do that before, and I’m finding myself doing that more and more.”

Watch the youth and employer learning sessions below:





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