This year’s fall Sciences Career Fair had 49 companies present. Out of the 49, the career fair had 20 companies labelled as “environmental” firms. However, upon further research into the companies’ policies and practices, only nine companies were focused mainly on environmental or geological work while the fair had the rest concentrated in various other sciences. Of the nine left, four drilled for oil or worked with the oil and gas industry, remaining with only four companies that focused mainly on environmental work that had sustainable practices.
The lack of sustainable companies at career fairs is a significant problem, and students who desire a well paying job that aligns with their values deserve more options. Chemical engineering senior Astrid Guerra shares this concern with many of her fellow engineering students.
“It’s really disheartening going up to a recruiter and knowing that emphasizing your interest in sustainability could hurt your chances at getting a job,” Guerra said. “There should be more opportunities for members of my generation to apply their education to addressing climate change.”
Engineering students, like those studying under the college of science, may be presented companies labeled as environmental. However, upon further research, it is clear that most of them are not sustainable. In the Student Engineers’ Council website under career search, there are 45 companies associated with the critical word “sustainable.” Yet once again, many of the companies are not related to actual environmental work or are large corporations with a history of wrongdoing.
Misleading labels like this are frustrating and allow the university to defend itself against people who argue more options are needed. Students should be able to apply their knowledge and well-earned degrees towards a career they are passionate about, which is extremely difficult when the career fairs present such few options. Biomedical sciences senior Sangeetha Puthigai knows the struggle of looking for a well-paying job that will not force her to go against her principles.
“[Students like me] want the opportunity to do meaningful work that will help people and the environment,” Puthigai said. “We feel an internal conflict when choosing between working with companies that are largely responsible for the climate crisis or not being able to support ourselves.”
A&M has a large and top-ranked petroleum engineering department, which is the fact that opposers always bring up when discussing sustainability at the university. Of course, it will be a gradual and challenging process for A&M to distance itself from fossil fuels, but that is no excuse not to have more sustainable companies at career fairs. Sustainable companies can still be invited to recruit students without taking up the space of Exxon Mobil or Chevron.
Major corporations that environmentally conscious students are opposed aren’t going away any time soon, and there are plenty of students who strive to get a spot at one of these companies. However, the career fairs should not present them as the “best choice” or number one option for which all students should strive. Students interested in sustainability deserve to have just as many options with high paying companies as students interested in oil and gas careers.
Including more sustainable companies will only benefit all students in the long run. In a few years or decades, many of the current oil and gas jobs will likely be in decline. Green jobs are on the rise as renewable energy improves. If more sustainable companies were present, students would be able to gain the skills they need to keep working in a changing world.
A&M has equipped Aggies entering the career force with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed. However, students cannot realize their full potential unless the university gives them to do something about which they are passionate. Degrees are costly, and the university owes it to the students to provide options where they will be able to live comfortably after while still following their principles. As Puthigai said, “We should be offered the opportunity to work in a field that promotes the future we hope to see.”