Career Experiment: Emerald

I can't say enough about this woman. She's actually leans in when you give her feedback, wanting to know what she can do better and how she can grow. Thank you, Emerald, for sharing this part of your story here...and good luck in your next adventure!!

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Who: Emerald, 20

Where: Standing in front of the Capitol where I interned for the summer.

Trace the steps leading you to this moment; What were the three most pivotal experiences that led you here?

I was not interested in environmental sustainability or political science as a major until I entered college. Sustainability was simply just a lifestyle I tried to live by. I was the girl that always encouraged others to recycle and became vegetarian for the environmental benefits. However, I did not envision a career in sustainability.

As I became an intern for Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) my freshmen year, my entire view for my future changed.

Citizens’ Climate Lobby focused on passing environmental legislation and framing the environmental conversation in a way that appealed to anyone’s values. Through CCL, I saw the hope that one person can bring and the possibility of a better future for the environment and all life. After attending a CCL conference in Washington DC, where I actually lobbied members of Congress, I saw the intersection of environmental sustainability and politics.

I know I can make a great difference in the world and I believe working on environmental legislation is the best way I can do that. I interned in the United States House of Representatives for this summer in Representative Tom O’Halleran’s office in order to gain more knowledge about politics. My hope continued to grow as I saw all of the wonderful, inspiring people working on the Hill fighting for the environment. While my position did not have me working on environmental legislation directly, I was able to see the behind-the-scene work that goes into crafting legislation. I saw how important the lobbying and research from environmental organizations is when drafting legislation or deciding how the member of Congress will vote on bills.

I was surprised to learn that environmental lobbyists are truly crucial to the way a member of Congress will vote.

The research and petition signatures that groups bring to a congressional staffer legitimately help that staffer recommend how to vote to the member of Congress.

My internship on the Hill solidified my desire to create environmental policies that benefit the world.

What do you need more than insight? Outsight.

Outsight

When I went to Alaska for a post-college summer working at a B&B, I already knew I loved to bake pies.

I had no idea that I'd meet some brilliant mountaineers, wonder what the fuss about the great outdoors was all about, get over my fear of peeing behind a tree, and find myself trekking in the Himalayas three months later.

Insight said, "Yeah....I'm not a big nature girl."

Outsight said, "...yet."

"Outsight," according to the brilliant Herminia Ibarra, "is the fresh, external perspective that comes from doing new and different things - plunging ourselves into new projects and activities, interacting with people outside our daily routines, and experimenting with new ways of getting things done."

Outsight is forward-looking. It gives you access to the parts of your identity and potential that are still waiting to be discovered...or created.  

Insight, in contrast, is backwards-looking. It's based on what you know about yourself already, from your experience of everything you've been or done in the past. Insight helps you zero in on values and strengths. But basing career decisions on insight alone means basing them on your past...not your future.

In other words, don't let insight put you in a box prematurely.

There's a lot more "YOU" to be discovered by getting outside of your comfort zone.

The best part about outsight is that you don't have to wait for it; you can meet it head on. Ask for a challenging stretch project to learn about who you are in an experience you haven't yet encountered, or volunteer strategically to find out what capacities you draw out in a new working environment.

As you develop your outsight, chances are strong that you'll discover career options that you  never considered (or never knew existed!) along the way.