State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

Passion for Recycling Propels CC Graduate’s Career

By Noah Morgenstein

SpencerSoon after graduating from the Undergraduate Program in Sustainable Development in May 2009, Spencer Silverstein was hired by SBM Site Services LLC, a company that provides custodial and recycling program management to Fortune 500 companies across North America. Silverstein landed the job through a family contact who was impressed by his studies in sustainable development at Columbia University. “The networking and referral path has been critical, not only in [helping me to gain] experience, but in countless other instances,” said Silverstein regarding his post-graduation job search.

Spencer majored in anthropology while at Columbia University and completed the special concentration in sustainable development. For the past two years, Silverstein has worked as a site sustainability manager at SBM, managing the recycling and solid waste program at Amgen’s corporate headquarters in Thousand Oaks, Calif.

When asked if he is able to utilize the skills and knowledge he learned in the sustainable development program, he replied: “My time in the classroom has provided a thorough framework around what the challenges to sustainable development are, and it also works to motivate me to work in the commercial sphere to further the sustainability agenda and provide real, tangible solutions to our clients and beyond.”

“What I enjoy most about my job,” said Silverstein, “is the satisfaction I get out of knowing that my efforts to drive Amgen’s recycling program yield results that have a direct effect on our planet, by reducing the amount of material sent to landfills. The challenge is generating innovative ways to bring value to our client and drive results in a cost-effective manner.”

Noah Morgenstein is an intern for the Office of Academic and Research Programs at the Earth Institute. He attends Columbia College and will graduate in 2015 with a degree in economics and political science.


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Recent record-breaking heat waves have affected communities across the world. The Extreme Heat Workshop will bring together researchers and practitioners to advance the state of knowledge, identify community needs, and develop a framework for evaluating risks with a focus on climate justice. Register by June 15

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