Professional Development

The Earth Institute Professional Development Program helps students and alumni achieve their career goals. The program offers skill-building seminars, networking opportunities, and tools that, together, better prepare students to pursue job opportunities in sustainability and related fields.

The Earth Institute's Professional Development Program helps students prepare for sustainability-related careers. The program complements existing services such as resume and cover letter review that are provided by Columbia University's career service offices.

Earth Institute Internship Program

The Earth Institute Internship Program links Earth Institute, Columbia University students with internships in sustainability and related management, policy, engineering, and science fields. The participating organizations are committed to offering paid internships each year to students in the Earth Institute's education programs. The Earth Institute too, provides paid internships at Earth Institute research centers. While all positions are paid, the duration, requirements and pay rate of each internship varies by employer.

How Does it Work?

Employers join the program by committing to offer at least one paid internship opportunity each year to a Columbia University student in any of the Earth Institute’s education programs. The internships are advertised to students as they become available throughout the year. To learn how to be come a partner, or to find out about current openings, please email us


       CDP Driving Sustainable Economies

Sustainability Skill-Building

The Sustainability Skills Seminars offer students and alumni practical skills that are specific to sustainability and environmental careers. The half-day, non-credit seminars are free. Past seminar topics have included Life Cycle Analysis, Geographic Information Systems, and Green Building Design.

Sustainability Skills Seminars Spring 2016

FEBRUARY 6, 2016, 10:00AM-2:00PM

No matter how dynamic or charismatic your personality, if your presentation content doesn’t resonate with your audience, your presentation will fail to engage, persuade or inspire. How to create a compelling presentation is the subject of this interactive master class that goes beyond delivery techniques and focuses on the inner architecture of great presentations. It will give you strategies to win over skeptics and become a masterful presenter. Participants will be provided with worksheets and a workbook that they can use to remember key concepts from the training and to help plan their next presentation.

You will learn:
  • The single biggest mistake made by even seasoned presenters – and how to avoid it
  • Counterintuitive insights from the world of neuroscience that you can use to make concepts “sticky"
  • How to order and structure your presentation for maximum impact
  • How to overcome audience barriers and manage counter-arguments
  • Why creating your slides should be the last thing you do
  • The surprising results of one of the few studies every done on PowerPoint  -- and what it implies for the “best practice” of using slides and visuals

FEBRUARY 20, 2016, 10:00AM-2:00PM

This workshop is dedicated to helping you to research the sustainability industry, find employers, and develop your strategy for approaching, interviewing and negotiating with employers. We will look at strategies and sites that will help you to optimize your job search and begin your networking process. Your resume and other marketing materials got you in the door; now let’s look at how you create a professional image through the interview and negotiating stage so that you will land the jobs that you want. Resources to help you to continue to build your career planning skills and search jobs will be also be discussed.

MARCH 26, 2016, 10:00AM-2:00PM

You’re an expert in your field, you know your material better than anyone, but how do you communicate it effectively to an audience that might not be familiar with words like ‘sustainability’ and other substantive theories or buzz words that are the foundation of your field.

In this interactive seminar, we’ll use the tools that journalists rely on -- taking your material and altering it for whatever audience you might need to address in your career.  The innovative aspect to this seminar is that you will be asked to present material and we’ll be videotaping you and as a group, playing back the material to critique it together.  Through our discussions and feedback, you’ll walk away from this seminar with the following skills:

  • What are the important questions you need to ask yourself *before* getting up and speaking.
  • Strategies for addressing an individual or group that persuades them to your viewpoint.
  • What makes someone a good public speaker at an office meeting; an interview or a speech.

Due to the individual feedback necessary to make this seminar successful, it will be limited to 10-12 students.

APRIL 2, 2016, 9:00AM-5:00PM


In today’s competitive environment, nonprofit organizations must have multiple streams of financial support. Learn from a nationally recognized expert about what is available from foundations and corporations, and how to build a portfolio of private grants. This workshop will provide concrete information on how to initiate and maintain private sector fundraising. The data shared is derived from interviews with grantmakers.

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand the winning process that must be used in outreach to grantmakers
  • Learn about grantmaker due diligence
  • Have an in-depth understanding of what grantmakers look for in all segments of the grant proposal: cover letter, narrative and appendix
  • Recognize the importance of researching the grantmaker’s interests
  • Know the tools available for research and how to analyze information provided
  • Learn how to prioritize prospects
  • Understand how to build a relationship with the grantmaker

APRIL 16, 2016, 10:00AM-2:00PM

This seminar will provide a broad overview of U.S. environmental law. It will introduce the principal federal statutes -- the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, the Superfund law, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, and the Endangered Species Act, as well as their state counterparts.  It will discuss the role of EPA, Congress, the courts, and state and local governments.  The laws relevant to climate change and to environmental justice will receive special attention.

Students and alums may register for these events through the Earth Institute Job List. For more information please email us.


Past Earth Institute Sustainability Skill Building Seminars:

  • Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG)
  • Sustainable Agriculture
  • Product Lifecycle Assessment and Carbon Footprinting
  • Green Building Design and LEED training
  • Consulting 101: How Consultants Win Work
  • Networking and Interviewing Skills Seminar
  • Sustainable Smart Technology and Controls Seminar
  • Climate Adaptation Planning Seminar
  • Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Seminar
  • Sustainability Metrics
  • Greenhouse Gas Protocol's Corporate GHG Accounting and Reporting Standard
  • Public Speaking — Communication Strategy and Delivery

For more information, please email us.

Access to Sustainability Practitioners

The Sustainability Speaker Series features talks by leading practitioners, who discuss their work and their organizations, and who offer career advice. Networking events among students and alumni also provide a setting for learning about the job market from colleagues in the field.

Upcoming Sustainability Speaker Events:

These events are held from 12:00-1:00PM at The Earth Institute offices, located at 2910 Broadway, in Hogan Hall Conference Room A. To RSVP please email us.

Practicum in Innovative Sustainability Leadership:

In the spring 2016 semester, the Practicum in Innovative Sustainability Leadership will host the following sustainability practitioners. The talks, which take place 6:10–7:00PM in 717 Hamilton are open to students and alumni. Space is limited.

  • 1/27/16- The New Climate Economy, Stefan Knupfer, Senior Partner, McKinsey & Company, Inc
  • 2/3/16 - Trailblazing in Green Building, Douglas Durst, Chairman, The Durst Organization
  • 2/10/16 - Changing a Company from the Inside #1, Bill Barry, Macmillan
  • 2/17/16 - Changing a Company from the Inside #2, Raghusimha Sudhakara, Manager of Strategy, Con Edison
  • 2/24/16 - Banking as a Sustainability Driver, Camilla Seth, Executive Director, Sustainable Finance, JPMorgan Chase & Co.
  • 3/2/16 - Community-based Social Marketing for Sustainability, Michelle Vigen, Senior Energy Planner, Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection
  • 3/9/16 - Using Metrics to Change Communities, Hilari Varnadore, Executive Director, STAR Communities
  • 3/23/16: Protecting New York’s Water, Paul Gallay, President and Hudson Riverkeeper, Riverkeeper
  • 3/30/16: Creating a Market for Renewable Energy, Curtis Probst, Managing Director, Rocky Mountain Institute
  • 4/6/16 - Innovation in Building Energy Efficiency, Dorian Dale, Director of Sustainability and Chief Recovery Officer, Suffolk County
  • 4/13/16: Making Cities Healthier, Resilient and Sustainable, Emily Maxwell, New York City Program Director, The Nature Conservancy
  • 4/20/16: Procurement as a Sustainability Strategy, John Cheetham, Global Senior Procurement Manager, Tea & RTD, Unilever
Past Sustainability Speaker Events:
  • Lori Ardito, First Deputy Commissioner, New York City Department of Transportation
  • Howard Buffett, Executive Director, Howard G. Buffett Foundation
  • Cynthia Cummis, Deputy Director, GHG Protocol, World Resources Institute
  • Katherine Gejewski, Director of Sustainability, City of Philadelphia
  • James Gowen, Chief Sustainability Officer, Verizon
  • Alana Libow, Environmental Sustainability Manager, Dannon
  • Paul Polizzotto, President and Founder, CBS EcoMedia Inc.
  • Will Sarni, Director and Practice Leader, Enterprise Water Strategy, Deloitte Consulting
  • Beth Strommen, Director, Baltimore Office of Sustainability
  • David Walker, Senior Director, Beverage Productivity at PepsiCo

Networking events among students and alumni also provide a setting for learning about the job market from colleagues in the field.

For more information, please email us.

All Ivy Environmental and Sustainable Development Career Fair

The annual All Ivy Environmental and Sustainable Development Career Fair attracts top organizations from the private, non-profit, and public sectors to the Columbia campus. The Fair is open to undergraduate and graduate students from all Ivy League schools, as well as Earth Institute alumni.

For more information, please email us.

Job Search Tools

Sustainability Job List

The Earth Institute Job List contains employment opportunities in the field of sustainability. Students and alumni may upload resumes and cover letters, which the Earth Institute makes available to potential employers; they may store job application documents and job searches, as well as receive notifications for jobs that match their employment profiles. The Earth Institute Job List provides some 400 current opportunities at any one time, including a diverse mix of full-time, part-time, and internship opportunities. Access to this online resource is password protected. For more information, please email us.

Free Access to Glassdoor

We are pleased to offer students and alumni free access to Glassdoor provides access to millions of company reviews and ratings, salary reports, job listings, interview reviews and questions, and more. By using these tools in conjunction with the Earth Institute Job List and other campus career resources, students and graduates are able to make more informed career decisions.

Research Assistantships

The Earth Institute's research centers and programs offer paid research assistantships. Research Assistantships gives Columbia University and Barnard undergraduate students a valuable opportunity to collaborate on substantive matters of inquiry and a chance to gain meaningful insight into various fields of study and the research process as a whole. Examples of past projects include researching the impact of temperature and precipitation on malaria transmission; identifying natural hazards and risk management strategies for the Dominican Republic; and researching the impacts of infrastructure improvements in rural Africa.

For more information, please email us.

Earth Institute Alumni Network

The Earth Institute also has an extensive alumni network consisting of graduates from all of its education programs. Throughout the year, the Earth Institute organizes alumni activities, including talks, networking events, and social gatherings. To learn more, please visit the alumni website email us at