Professional Development

Helping students and alumni meet their professional goals is a top priority of the MPA-ESP program. Both students and alumni have access to a wealth of professional development services from SIPA and the Earth Institute, Columbia University. These services emphasize sustainability skill building, access to leading practitioners, career networking, and specialized job search strategies and tools.

Skill building
The Sustainability Skills Seminars comprise half- and full-day, free, non-credit seminars that help students gain specialized, technical skills, which are in demand in the job market. Recent seminars have included the following.

  • LEED Green Associate Exam Preparation Seminar
  • GIS Workshops
  • Sustainable Smart Technology and Controls Seminar
  • Networking and Interviewing Skills Seminar
  • Climate Adaptation Planning Seminar
  • Product Lifecycle Analysis and Carbon Footprinting
  • Sustainability Metrics
  • Greenhouse Gas Protocol’s Corporate GHG Accounting and Reporting Standard
  • Public Speaking – Communication Strategy and Delivery

Career Networking
The program’s 741 graduates provide dynamic and varied professional contacts across numerous sectors. Each summer, we survey our alumni to be able to provide comprehensive, up-to-date information about their careers to alumni and to current students. Every fall, the MPA-ESP program hosts an alumni reception where current students can mingle with alumni from all previous classes of the program. Students also have the opportunity to participate in the annual SIPA Career Conference in Washington, DC, where they are able to network with SIPA alumni. Graduates may also join the SIPA LinkedIn group of over 3,000 members from around the globe.

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 email us at

Career-Fair-600x400The 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.


Access to Leading Practitioners
Many of our faculty members are also leading environmental and policy practitioners, who provide students the benefit of their expertise and experience.  Students also benefit from consultations with their assigned faculty advisors.

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.

Past Earth Institute Sustainability Speaker Series:

  • David Walker, Senior Director, Beverage Productivity at PepsiCo
  • Paul Polizzotto, President and Founder, CBS EcoMedia Inc.
  • Alana Libow, Environmental Sustainability Manager, Dannon
  • Will Sarni, Director and Practice Leader, Enterprise Water Strategy, Deloitte Consulting
  • Cynthia Cummis, Deputy Director, GHG Protocol, World Resources Institute
  • Howard Buffett, Executive Director, Howard G. Buffett Foundation
  • Lori Ardito, First Deputy Commissioner, New York City Department of Transportation
  • Katherine Gajewski, Director of Sustainability, City of Philadelphia
  • Beth Strommen, Director, Baltimore Office of Sustainability

Professional Development Seminar
All SIPA students are required to take part in the SIPA Office of Career Services Professional Development Seminar. Through this seminar, they learn about resume techniques, interview tips, and best practices for job searching and interviews. Additionally, students are encouraged to take advantage of the Office of Career Services career coaches and advisers. The Office of Career Services sends weekly bulletins and hosts dozens of workshops, interviews and information sessions throughout the year.