Kristy Drutman epitomizes today’s socially conscious multi-hyphenate: working at the intersection of media, diversity, and environmentalism, she’s an activist, educator, content creator, and all-around badass. Now, the 27-year-old known as Browngirl Green also runs Green Jobs Board, a trailblazing platform to help job seekers, especially candidates from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds, find their own niche within the environmental space.
Read our Q&A with Kristy, lightly edited for clarity and concision.
Ben Kassoy, Repurpose: I’d love to know the origin story of the Green Jobs Board – what inspired you to start it and how you got things off the ground.
Kristy Drutman: For many years, I've been really passionate about mentorship and also bridging gaps, especially for young people of color to find good-paying jobs in the environmental field. Most of the internships and jobs that I did in undergrad were unpaid. I was pretty exploited and I've heard so many other people having awful experiences.
As a platform, Browngirl Green is all about storytelling about who belongs in this field and this movement and this world. I figured, why don't I include jobs and career opportunities as part of that. So I started posting green jobs as posts on Browngirl Green, and it was starting to blow up and people were getting so excited about it. They're like, “Oh my God, I've been waiting for jobs like this for a while!” And I didn't realize it was going to perform that well or get such high engagement. It got to the point where it had such a high volume of requests and inquiries and excitement from companies and organizations and users that eventually my team was like, we should just create our own separate platform outside Browngirl Green. So we launched the Green Jobs Board officially in March of 2022.
BK: Tell me a little bit more about your experience as a young woman of color trying to navigate these industries, and how you put opportunity and access at the forefront of the Green Jobs Board.
KD: It was almost impossible for me to be able to easily find a job when I graduated college, and I graduated from UC Berkeley with a dual degree, honors student, all these things. I was getting ghosted by so many different environmental nonprofits and companies that I was applying for. I was going on really general job websites and there's just not really great resources. And then even with career counseling, the work that I wanted to do was pretty niche when it came to marketing and communications in the sustainability field. Back in 2017, there were not that many jobs for that, honestly. So it was just a really competitive and weird landscape where it was really hard to find opportunities.
Now as someone who runs a job board, I'm like, how can we make this the lowest barrier to entry for someone to be interviewed or for someone to search for a job and for employers to find prospective candidates. I realize that's a big gap, and if that doesn't get filled, we’re going to continue to see the green economy fail to expand to the extent it needs to. For me, it's always about how to make an intuitive platform using social media and building a community around jobs, not just a board.
BK: It sounds like you’ve had an amazing response both from employers and from job seekers. Can you talk about why you think the response has been so enthusiastic and why, beyond our urgent climate needs, this is such a good time for young folks to pursue jobs in the green economy?
KD: It's so important to know that the green economy is expected to be worth trillions of dollars and hundreds of millions of jobs in the near future, so the more that young people can get equipped with skills and opportunities to be able to be plugged into that, the better. We can diversify the workforce. We can build a new generation of people that are rethinking how these fields can look and what leadership can look like in this space.
BK: What’s been the most gratifying part of running the Green Jobs Board? Any highlights you’re particularly proud of?
KD: My team is really incredible. I don't even necessarily fully run the Green Jobs Board, it's all operated by the people I work with [Jocelyn Gee, Usman Fahimullah, Caitlin Arnot-Copenhaver]. We're a small but mighty team of four people. We're always innovating and giving each other feedback, always improving our processes. All of us are deeply invested in making this a valuable resource for the community. So the people I get to work with are probably the most impressive part of the work, because we're all very new to this landscape of navigating what it means to build a resource like this, that we feel hasn't really existed before, but we're all really in it together.
We can build a new generation of people that are rethinking how these fields can look and what leadership can look like in this space.
BK: Can you tell me about your goals for the Green Jobs Board? What does success look like in the next year and beyond?
KD: Our goal is to definitely build out more programming at different educational levels. So supporting pathways for young people, to be able to get into the field and have their work sustained. Again, we don't want to just be a job board. We're a bigger platform that's about being a community resource that rethinks the green economy, and is able to provide community spaces and discussion spaces and places where people can connect with each other.
BK: Considering how lean your team is, if there are other folks who are passionate about this work and want to help, what kind of support are you looking for, and how can they get involved?
KD: Our entire platform is user generated. So we're really looking to find more companies and organizations to put their jobs on the board. The board is only as useful as the jobs, so if people are a part of networks where people are looking for places to plug their jobs and opportunities, we're really, really looking for that support. Also, mentorship. I'm a young entrepreneur, and building this as another business has been a lot of effort. Anyone who is interested in mentorship and supporting a young woman of color who is trying to get into the climate tech startup world would be really helpful as well.
BK: What other advice do you have for young folks seeking green jobs, especially people of color, queer identifying folks, job seekers with disabilities, and other candidates from historically underrepresented backgrounds?
KD: My advice is that you need mentors and you need support systems and networks. There are so many people who want to help you out and want to help provide those resources and to make these spaces more inclusive and accessible. Unfortunately, a lot of these companies and spaces are not, so it requires mentorship and support to find people who are looking out for your best interest to give you recommendations on places that might be a good culture fit, that are going to support your full diversity and range of what you bring to the table.
BK: Is there anything else that you want to add?
KD: The last part is just a message to actual companies about why it’s valuable that they put their postings on social media. The emerging workforce is all on social media; they don't want to be spending hours digging through files, and the fact that we make it really streamlined and accessible, is ultimately getting people jobs. It’s really advantageous for more companies and organizations to be posting on the Green Jobs Board to directly reach their ideal candidates.