This module will guide you through some typical job profiles in the water and climate sectors. After completing this factsheet we hope that you will have a better idea of what the organizational structure of a typical water and climate organization looks like. This should make it easier to identify where you picture yourself within an organisation and what type of job you are most suited to.
- What job profiles are compatible with my education, goals, and professional experience?
- How can I fit into the organizational structure of my desired workplace?
- What value does any given job position bring to the overall organizational structure?
The titles given to job roles can vary greatly, depending on the type and size of an organization, the specific area of work, responsibilities inherent in the role, and many other variables. With this in mind, we will present you with some typical job profiles as well as the skills and experience needed to be an eligible candidate.
Let’s start by distinguishing between different job levels and how they relate to each other on an organizational level.
Describes a first level of a real job experience, usually occupied by a student, or someone who has recently finished their studies. Interns usually work for a company or organization for a short time (e.g., 3-6 months), and possibly without a financial compensation. It is an opportunity for people to get experience of a particular type of work. Having an internship experience greatly increases the chances of getting hired in the future.
Entry level is a level of a job that typically requires minimal education, training and experience. Entry-level jobs are available in every industry. Some of them may require higher academic qualifications, while others might involve specialized skills, knowledge or techniques. In some cases, entry-level employees participate in on-the-job training to gain valuable industry knowledge and experience. You can find out more by clicking on this link.
After gaining a few years of experience in a specific field, you’ll become qualified to start applying to intermediate- or associate-level jobs. At this stage, leadership opportunities will start showing up to further develop your skills in leading minor projects or small teams.
Mid-level seniority is where managerial responsibilities over entry-level employees start to become more dominant. More advanced mid-level employees are sometimes described as "mid-senior" to indicate their seniority over other middle management positions.
Sometimes called executive-level, senior-level positions require a high level of experience, knowledge and responsibility within a company. At this level, employees have the most decision-making power at a company and are meant to provide leadership and guidance to other employees, directly or via lower level managers.
Although not exactly a job type, volunteers can be seen as people who truly believe in the vision and mission of the organization. This can often provide another entry point for you to get more involved in the organization itself and potentially help you to land a job.
In the next section, you’ll learn about the typical job profiles in the water and climate sphere. You will see that many people don’t really need any prior water or climate knowledge to enter the industry. On the other hand, industry experts will need to possess highly specific and deep knowledge to be successful and do their job right.
Types of jobs
Administration and Finance
The backbone of every organization. Without a proper paper and budget management, things can get out of hand quite fast. Admin and finance employees take care of many things like procurement of products and services, support projects, deal with accounting and salary management, and sometimes they even organize events. These people need to be punctual and skilled with a set of digital tools to master all the data. Being proficient with MS Office, SAP, or similar goes a long way to skillfully finish the tasks ahead.
Although usually small in numbers, IT personnel maintain entire global digital presence of the organization. For the most part, their work is focused on network maintenance, website development and tech support for the rest of the organization’s employees. Of course, there are exceptions in which developers are there to actually code scientific apps. But this is usually done via a contractor that is being fed the data from the organization as more agile solution. Nevertheless, IT personnel plays an important part in each water and climate organization, no matter the assignments.
As the organization grows, it needs to manage its manpower through dedicated HR personnel. Many water and climate organizations operate as lean NGOs, though. As such, they try to keep their core personnel at bare minimum. This does not apply to large, global organizations, government bodies, or private sector companies where the HR specialists often work with communication department to devise creative ways how to attract new employees. HR specialists often manage databases of the organizations’ members and partners as well as participate on job events or organize employee trainings. Being a good HR specialist means to be a data driven people person able to identify the best match for any job opening.
Despite increasingly obvious impacts of water and climate related incidents, the general public still tends to somewhat ignore the voices of the organizations from the same sphere. Whether they choose to work for an NGO or a private business, marketing and communication specialists need a great deal of creativity to craft elaborate campaigns for raising awareness and attract more attention, not to mention their skillful handling of organization’s member/follower base. Despite that, the competition is rising rapidly with EU funding mechanisms providing more resources to ensure reaching 2030 goals. This alone represents a challenge for communication department to work closely with project managers when compiling the winning submissions and promoting them in the future. It goes without saying that water and climate communication specialists rely heavily on digital marketing tools to maintain and expand the organization’s sphere of influence.
A manger is a pivotal figure in the task of creating wealth or keeping an organization relevant and staying true to its strategy. There are rapid changes in technology, methods of production, marketing techniques, financial set up and the manager should be competent enough to cope with these changes. The managers perform their work at different levels and they are called by different names. In case of water and climate industry, the most common variations are business, strategy, network, private sector, or project manager. Obviously, each one is focusing on a different segment of business, but you can see a pattern, hinting that managers in this industry are usually there to maintain the course of actions, nurture the partners base or lead a particular project to secure additional funds.
Water and Climate Specialists
Undoubtedly the most important people in the team, forming the very essence of an organization, water and climate sector-wise. These highly trained experts primarily conduct research or construct products/services, focused on topics like water quality, pollution mitigation, river basin management, groundwater, hydro morphology, wastewater, GIS and many others. The spectrum of specializations is then further expanded by specific conditions under which the organization operates. In the EU, it is common for an organization to have a Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) or gender and social inclusion specialist to address latest policies and globally acknowledged standards. In conclusion, it doesn’t matter whether you are a hydrological engineer or an integrated water resource management expert. A plethora of opportunities is present in the whole EU region that tirelessly seeks new professionals, ready to advance humanity’s efforts towards sustainable future in water and climate sphere.
Using our differences – why is one specialist more suitable for the position than the other?
An increase in the focus on diversity within organizations gives a chance to anyone to present their unique set of qualities that make them stand out when talking about specific job roles. Let’s imagine there’s a new hi-tech job opening in an organization building water turbines that is trying to expand their presence in a new region. However, they lack any knowledge about the people and mood in that particular region. This presents a great opportunity for potential candidates from that region or the ones that have any prior experience with the local culture.
Another example of utilizing one’s differences is special skills that can separate you from the rest of the candidates. Imagine the company is looking for a communication specialist with entry-level digital marketing experience. You, however, are also a web-developing enthusiast. It would be wise to mention such skills that relate to the job position, as this can set you apart and greatly increase your chances for success.
The moral of this is to never rely solely on your basic education. Always seek opportunities that can give you an upper hand. What you can influence most – and what is usually the most valuable – is additional knowledge/experience. The best way is to get it via internships, online courses, volunteering, or participation on various projects. Be one step ahead and follow your preferred organizations to scout for any potential opportunities to become the best version of yourself and help change the world for all of us.
Special job positions
There are times, when organizations require to create a very specific job, e.g., Knowledge Specialist, in order to meet certain goals. The position is quite unique, offering niche focus, usually related to a product, service, or a project. Organizations tend to value these positions more, therefore, the compensation is higher.
Acquiring such a position gives the employee a boost in morale as they realize how much the organization appreciate their skills and experience.
It is not uncommon for such positions to come in a form of a time constrained contract. It’s usually tied to a specific thing, after all. However, since these are high value employees, the contracts are usually prolonged, or the scope of the position shifts, based on the employee’s qualities or the current organization’s needs.
Keywords to look out for when searching for a water and climate related job:
- SDG (Sustainable Development Goals)
- IWRM (Integrated Water Resource Management)
Task Group or Task Force is a popular term among European water and climate organizations these days. One can understand it as a form of a consortium-like group of specialists with various background, joined by a single purpose (e.g., combating plastic pollution, working towards flood mitigation…). These specialists usually come from different organizations and their agreement can expire, once the task is done. To be a part of such Task Force is perceived as a unique opportunity to show one’s value. Especially within huge networks, the Task Force members are the top experts, most suitable for the job.
Understanding your role in the organizational structure and acting accordingly speeds up your adaptation and works towards your perception of potential as well as limits of the resources at your disposal.
Getting to know the standard industry requirements of your chosen position helps you to see how can you expand your potential based on the balance between the market demand and your preferences.
Whether your goal is to design new hydrological solutions or promote it via catchy communication strategy, always strive to be the best at what you do and success will come along.
Check your online presence by simply typing your name in any browser. Try to find out how much personal information you can find on the internet. Summarize the information and reflect on the results to see if you are presented as a potentially suitable candidate on the web.
Knowing what people can find out about you can help you to prepare for surprise questions during interviews.