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Hanley Sustainability Institute

Navigating the sustainability field as a young professional

By Amelia Dougherty

As an incoming civil engineering student at the University of Dayton, I felt that I had not quite found my niche. Upon my decision to switch to Sustainability with an Energy concentration my sophomore year, I was unsure what the future would hold.

Did I make the right choice? Did I throw away a chance to have an established career as a woman in engineering?

Although these doubts were swimming in the back of my mind, I had a gut feeling that this was the right path. I trusted my work ethic and never looked back.

Today, I am more than satisfied with my decision. The support and guidance I received from the Hanley Sustainability Institute (HSI) has been invaluable. When I accepted a Fellowship to work at the City of Dayton Office of Sustainability during the summer of 2023, I was looking forward to engaging with the community and accelerating decarbonization efforts. Upon beginning the fellowship, I realized that the experience would offer much more. In addition to the knowledge I have gained in the energy space under the guidance of Meg Maloney (Sustainability Manager), I have also made incredible connections with individuals in the city, community partners, and local sustainability organizations.

HSI young professional

Along with my research on decarbonization planning, I have been able to tour the Limekiln Reclamation Facility and Rumpke Recycling Plant. I have also participated in Outfall Sampling with the Water Department and attended a variety of city meetings.

During a round-table discussion on a sustainability tour of the Cincinnati Zoo, I was pleasantly surprised to be surrounded by women. It was inspiring to learn how these women transitioned into the sustainability field. All participants were engaged in the conversation, and there was an energy in the room that facilitated meaningful conversation. I greatly enjoyed this environment where all were open to the suggestions and insight of others, an important aspect of working in sustainability as I have learned. 

A burgeoning field, Sustainability offers a plethora of pathways for starting a career.

Each of these unique experiences has reaffirmed my desire to pursue a career in the sustainability sector, and I am excited to be a part of this crucial work.

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