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Career Support

MSES Career Support

MSES Students can access general career support through Northwestern Career Advancement and the McCormick Engineering Career Development Office. Both offices provide support with basic job search tasks, like resumes and mock interviews, as well as hosting job boards. The MSES Program provides a comprehensive “energy & sustainability layer” on top of these services. This includes (1) career seminars, (2) career mentors, (3) peer support, (4) access to an extensive professional network, (5) opportunities to explore industries and companies, and (6) practical experience. 

Rachel Deradoorian (MSES '21)

Sustainability Engineer
BuroHappold Engineering

Getting Started

Career support for MSES students begins even before they set foot on campus in the form of a career interest survey. Then in the first few weeks of the program students will have their first of four one-on-one career sessions with MSES staff which will result in a career plan.


Career Interest Survey

Over the summer, students will receive an electronic career survey so the team can better understand their career goals. The survey asks about their interest level in different industries, job functions, company ownership structures, company size, geography and work location. This survey informs their career plan and one-on-one career sessions throughout the program.

One-on-one Sessions

In September and October, students will schedule a one-on-one career kickoff meeting with a member of the program team. In this discussion, program staff will review the student’s goals, recommend courses, suggest other resources available at NU and build a preliminary list of potential career outcomes. Students will leave the session with a career plan template which they’ll spend time filling out on their own. Students will continue to have one-on-one meetings with program staff and career coaches throughout the year.

MSES Career Plan

Our career plan template includes students’ career survey responses, prompts about their preferences for company culture, and other job characteristics, and a tool to keep track of target companies. A calendar provides tasks that should be accomplished each month. Their first one-on-one session will help fill out the prompts and begin to take charge of the career plan. From then on, the career plan is the student's resource to utilize throughout the program.


Expert Mentors

Another key aspect of MSES Career Support is access to expert mentors in the form of career coaches and a seminar series on job search basics led by MSES Program Director Holly Benz.

Career Coaches

Each student will be given a Career Coach who acts as a mentor throughout the year, providing coaching and advice to students through three one-on-one meetings throughout the program. Career Coaches are experts in their field and are excellent listeners and communicators. They’re genuinely interested in the development of early and mid-career professionals and are superior networkers that assist students in enhancing their own networks. Ultimately, coaches help students learn how to navigate the job search so they can land their dream job. Meet our career coaches .

Career Seminar Series

Throughout the year, Program Director Holly Benz leads the cohort through a seminar series on the basics of the job search. In the Fall she leads students through topics related to exploring their interests and assessing their options: “The Energy and Sustainability Market and How to Find your Future Role,” “Networking 101 and How to Use Tools like LinkedIn,” and “Your Story – the Elevator Pitch.” In the Winter, students cover topics that help them prepare to begin applying for jobs: “Finding and Applying for Jobs in Your Field of Interest,” and “Interviews - Getting them, Prepping, and Practicing.” Finally, as students reach the “Apply & Accept” phase of their job search, Program Director Benz leads an interactive session on “Offer Negotiation.” During the seminar series, students will learn several career search skills they’ll be able to implement in future job searches. 

Peer Support: Career Interest Groups

To help students prepare for careers in their chosen industry, the MSES Program facilitates the formation of Career Interest Groups (CIGs). This is a career preparation model typically used in business schools where students work together to support each other’s progress towards internships and full-time positions in energy and sustainability organizations. The primary purpose of the group is:

  • Connect with peers interested in a similar field
  • Jointly expand understanding of the market of interest
  • Build a proactive plan to network and seek roles in a particular market
  • Provide peer-to-peer support such as mock interviews and outreach advice
  • Offer input to the MSES program on how to further support career placement in the target market

At MSES we have six CIGs:

  • Energy and Sustainability (E&S) Consulting
  • E&S Strategy, Finance, & Investing
  • E&S Infrastructure & Transportation
  • E&S Technology
  • Sustainability
  • Sustainable Food & Manufacturing


Networking is a key aspect of the job search. Students will attend a “Networking 101” session during the Career Seminar Series, but MSES facilitates networking for students through various LinkedIn Groups and by helping students secure informational interviews.

LinkedIn Groups

MSES Staff maintains three LinkedIn groups, one for the current cohort, one for Northwestern alumni who are energy and sustainability professionals (across all schools, programs, and graduation years), and one for just MSES alumni. The platform offers a space for MSES staff, alumni, faculty, and supporters to share intern and job opportunities in real-time and offers an easy way for students to network. 

Informational Interviews & Introductions

MSES staff can connect students with several companies that are part of the MSES/ISEN network. Where appropriate, we’ll help facilitate informational interviews and introductions between students and companies.

Exploring Companies & Industries

Through traditional recruiting presentations and more general Industry 101s seminars, students will have ample opportunity to explore all the energy and sustainability fields have to offer.

Virtual Company Presentations

Throughout the program, we’ll invite several companies in the energy and sustainability industries to present to the cohort about their company and potential opportunities for MSES students upon graduation. These will be opportunities to learn about companies, industries, and job functions while also networking with recruiters.

Industry 101s

MSES hosts a series of “Industry 101” presentations about selected energy and sustainability industries given by current professionals working in the selected industry. Presenters typically cover (1) the definition and over of the industry (types, sample companies), (2) hierarchy and compensation, (3) pace, work-life balance, and travel, and (4) a “day in the life” snapshot. Past presentations have covered Consulting, Energy Technology, Sustainable Food & Manufacturing, Sustainable Transportation, and more.

Practical Experience

One of the best ways to stand out as an applicant is to have practical experience in energy and sustainability on your resume. MSES provides several ways for students to achieve this, including through their capstone course: ISEN 498 – Project Practicum, but also through the NU Sustainability Fellowship, and helping students find internships and externships.

ISEN 498: Project Practicum

The culmination of the MSES Program is ISEN 498: Energy & Sustainability Project Practicum. It’s a practical course focused on experiential learning, providing students with real-world project experience. The course is almost solely centered on a 10-week, team-based consulting project for a corporate, non-profit or government partner of Northwestern University. Students gain “on the job” training on how to successfully manage and deliver a project, exposure to leading companies and organizations, problem-solving abilities, formal presentation and collaboration skills, and teamwork experience. Learn more about the project practicum, including examples of past projects here.

NU Sustainable Fellowship

SustainNU and The Institute for Sustainability and Energy at Northwestern (ISEN) jointly run the NU Sustainability Fellowship program, with a mission to support student funding, contribute to thought leadership in energy & sustainability, and support the local community.  In groups of 4, students selected for the fellowship will spend 10 weeks exploring a “big topic” in energy and sustainability for a real client. Operating similarly to the Project Practicum course, the fellowship builds practical experience in energy & sustainability and offers a $3,000 tuition grant to each student who participates. Learn more about the fellowship here.


MSES Students frequently participate in internships during the program. Internships are often secured through opportunities shared by the MSES Program in the cohort LinkedIn group or by individual searches. Given students’ academic responsibilities, they can typically handle 10-15 hours per week from January to June for an internship. In the past, internships have turned into full-time positions for MSES Students. 

McCormick Engineering Career Development Office

The McCormick Engineering Career Development (ECD) office enhances each student’s unique career plan by offering both students and employers a mutually beneficial means of connecting with the world beyond the classroom. Its mission is to provide all McCormick students with the tools necessary for lifelong career management and to forge relationships with employer partners for this end.

As a McCormick student, you can take advantage of all the ECD has to offer, including:

  • Career Advising (both by appointment and walk-in)
  • Career Fairs, Workshops, Networking Sessions, etc.
  • Resume Support and Interview Skills Training (I.e. mock interviews)
  • Job Search Training, McCormick Connect, Handshake

Northwestern Career Advancement

The mission of Northwestern Career Advancement (NCA) office is to foster excellence in career development, preparation, and professional opportunities for all undergraduate and graduate students and alumni, by providing comprehensive services and programming and by promoting strong partnerships with employers, academic departments, and the university community.

NCA has a range of resources for students and hosts several career events throughout the year. Information is available on their website. Of special interest is the Northwestern Externship Program (NEXT), a one-day shadowing program that provides Northwestern students the opportunity to accompany alumni on the job to learn more about different professional fields. Students spend time observing and often working alongside their alumni hosts to gain insight into the practical aspects of potential careers. NEXT is co-sponsored by the Northwestern Alumni Association and Northwestern Career Advancement.