Could I get a job to save the world?

Bunny disguised man on a sunset landscape

© The Shortlisted

I was 20 when I finished my Science degree at a university in Australia, with no real work experience but big dreams.
I was wide-eyed and idealistic about the way Science could find the answers and help us save the world.

Biodiversity, my big passion, can specifically help save the myriad of amazing diverse uniqueness from the destruction of habitat, pollution and exploitation – this amazing diversity… from the species up to the ecosystem, from the cell out to the bio-region!

Anyway, getting a real job wasn’t as easy as I had thought.
I applied to technical jobs, bumbling along through the requirements for government jobs, having never written one before, and getting politely but firmly rejected.

No one had ever prepared me for this; I was well trained and ready to start working, I hold that piece of paper saying I knew my stuff well – who wouldn’t want to hire me to help save the planet?!
I spent the following couple of years working part-time in the hospitality industry, while also studying further and volunteering in my field; at the time it felt like an eternity of waiting; an eternity of feeling disappointed that I hadn’t started applying my education to find a proper job.

My self-esteem was at an all-time low, and I felt baffled.
Some time later, as I was studying an Environmental Management course at a community college, we had to complete a compulsory work placement, so I started feeling more confident, and I started applying for jobs again.

Et voilà! This time I finally got a good job – and in a big city, too!
I packed up and moved to Sydney without a moment’s hesitation – this was my big chance, an environmental educator role, working on the Northern beaches doing state of the environment reporting, community and school education!

But while on the job, I realised that I was required to compile a giant report all on my own with data from right across the organisation, and it all had to be totally accurate and make sense?!
Little did I know that no one would read it (gallows humour there – it’s actually true).

Eighteen months later, a colleague of mine helped me get a job that was more policy; I applied, and I got it.  And on it went with a few more roles here and then until I finally got a job in a sustainability research institute.

This turned out to be a great choice – I got incredible diversity… I got to work with literally hundreds of organisations, on many different projects that spanned research, policy, strategy, consultation, education, network development, the transformation of sectors, and across topics of spanning water, waste, energy, built environment, international development.

Under each of those, there is so much I could tell you! About ideas, about projects, about sectors, about locations. I travelled, I wrote stuff, I brainstormed, I presented; I got to learn theories and technical things, and always watch and learn about interpersonal dynamics and about what people say and don’t say, how they express themselves, what their passions and talents are, what they see in themselves and what they don’t, what creates harmony in teams and what doesn’t. The diversity was staggering.

Meanwhile, I had been studying art therapy and starting to get interested also in life coaching. I tried juggling the two, but at the end of the day, I finally left my job in October 2015 and I started a second career with my art therapy coaching business.
Looking back at it now, it all makes so much sense to me – a paradise of being able to flit between things and learn and teach others, a job that was actually many many jobs all sitting under the one job title, challenging, applied – and all about saving the world!

★ Liked this story and need more inspiration? Also try The Graduate Dream, how to decide what to do after school and tips on how to get your first job

About The Author

Art therapist & life coach

Jade Herriman is a creative art therapist, artist and certified Barbara Sher life coach based in the Inner West of Sydney. She loves using art therapy and coaching to help people see themselves and their situations in new ways, and helping others create, connect and work towards their dreams.