“You have to find something to make yourself stand out.”
When asked for the single most important piece of advice that she could offer new graduates in an environmental field, that was Samantha Shulman’s response. Samantha graduated with a Masters in Environmental Sustainability from the University of Ottawa in 2019, and recently earned her Environmental Professional in Training (EPt) designation through ECO Canada.
“It’s not enough to just graduate. Your career is a long-term play, and continuing my education, whether for a future pay increase or just to excel in a job interview, having a wealth of extracurricular experience and professional development that your counterparts don’t have will make you stand out.”Like many new grads, Samantha faced her fair share of challenges after graduation. Canada’s environmental sector is rapidly growing, and while the demand for skilled employees is growing with it, so is the supply of highly-educated individuals competing for a limited number of positions.
That’s why ECO Canada designed the EPt designation. It is tailored to the specific needs and goals of new grads, and sets them on a path to become part of the next generation of environmental leaders. Through career advancement guidance, professional development resources, and ongoing mentorship opportunities, the EPt program equips young professionals with the skills and tools they need to not only succeed, but to thrive.
“Being an EPt, and being part of ECO Canada, is really like being a member of a professional family. I know that, if I ever needed support of information on an environmental topic or profession, I could simply post a request and would get a response within a day.”
Samantha has been able to leverage the combination of her education, experience, and EPt designation to secure a position with the Region of Peel’s Waste Management department, a role she describes as, “personally rewarding”.
“It’s a combination of a research and public education role. We drive around Peel assessing the contents of homeowners’ recycling bins. We document compliance with recycling guidelines, and if any home isn’t complying, by disposing of nonrecyclable materials in recycling bins, we provide them with guidance and literature to help maintain the integrity of the recycling system.”
She credits the support she receives from the ECO Canada team in helping her succeed.
“The staff at ECO Canada are always so quick to respond. Whether it’s about what stage I’m at in terms of professional development, or helping me understand the technical side of the website, they’re always so responsive.”
Recently, Samantha won the grand prize for an all-expenses-paid trip to attend ECO Canada’s Impact Awards, which was held in February 2020. This included access to the full-day Learning Session, an experience that she found immensely rewarding.
“Being at the Learning Series and Impact Awards really showed my there’s so much potential for learning from and interacting with so many experienced environmental professionals from so many different fields.”
Learning from more experienced peers is one of the hallmark benefits of the EPt program. Those working towards designation, as well as those who are designated, have access to ECO Canada’s full network of mentors, educators and professionals, as well as ongoing professional development and a wealth of resources.
“I always think long-term with my career, and earning my EPt designation and being a part of the ECO Canada family has helped with my job prospects by making me a more desirable and well-rounded candidate”.
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