UCL Careers
  • Welcome

    The UCL Careers team use this Blog to share their ‘news and views’ about careers with you. You will find snippets about a whole range of career related issues, news from recruiters and links to interesting articles in the media.

    If you are a researcher, we a specific blog for you.

    We hope you enjoy reading the Blog and will be inspired to tell us your views.

    If you want to suggest things that students and graduates might find helpful, please let us know – we want to hear from you.

    Karen Barnard – Director, UCL Careers

    UCL Careers is part of The Careers Group, University of London

    Accurate at the time of publication
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    Asking for Reasonable Adjustments for a Health Condition or Disability

    By UCL Careers, on 9 May 2018

    Disclosing your health condition consists of two parts of a conversation: the disclosure itself and the request for support. Often, they take place at the same time, so it’s good to be prepared for a conversation regarding your needs. By ‘need,’ we mean what reasonable adjustments employers can make for you.

    In case you haven’t read previous blogs, reasonable adjustments are provided by employers to mitigate any barriers in employment you might face as a result of your health condition.

    What are reasonable adjustments? ACAS says, “Reasonable adjustments remove or minimise disadvantages experienced by disabled people. Employers must make reasonable adjustments to ensure disabled people are not disadvantaged in the workplace. They should also make sure policies and practices do not put disabled people at a disadvantage.” In simple terms, reasonable adjustments are put in place, so that you can perform the role just as effectively as anyone else.

    The word reasonable, as in ‘reasonable adjustments’ is interesting here, as what is reasonable in one environment, may be different in another.

    So, what can you to prepare yourself for this aspect of the conversation?

    What might you struggle with?

    Think about the research you’ve done into the role you are applying to. If there are aspects of the environment or of the role which may adversely impact your health, e.g. working long hours, then write this down.

    Reflect and research

    Prioritise each one – are there any issues that you are minor? Are there any that really trouble you?

    There are two factors here: what you will do to manage your condition at work, and what your employer can do to support you. Whilst the emphasis in this blog is more about the latter, how you manage yourself currently can also help you.

    For example, you may have observed facets of your condition that have affected your performance in your qualification, and consequently you have adapted the way that you work or sought support. Knowing what works or doesn’t work provides really useful knowledge to feed into the conversation. Sometimes, however, you need to be in the actual job and environment to know how you can manage your condition, which is when reaching out may be worthwhile.

    Against each of the areas of work you have written down that concern you, add a potential solution, using your experience as above, or researching what has helped others (see Resources section).

    How will I say it?

    Having prioritised your areas of concern, draw the employer’s attention to your main concerns, but offer one or two solutions for each. The conversation should be fluid and also positively reinforce your strengths, and what you love about the role. Emphasise how much more effective you’ll be with this support.

    Your research will help you stay in control of the conversation however as it is a conversation, the employer may have their own suggestions, using prior knowledge.

    Pre-empting questions or concerns

    It’s worth spending some time thinking about any questions the employer might have. They may be concerned about the cost involved in supporting you with specialist equipment but some reasonable adjustments, e.g. adjusting working hours, may be of very little cost. Remind them also of the Access to Work scheme, which may also provide funding for equipment.

    Some of your approach to this conversation is about confidence and attitude. Often, we feel guilty about asking for things before we’ve even started working and before the employer has seen what we are capable of. However, you are your best expert. The key is to reach a solution that means you will perform at your best, without compromising your health.

    At UCL Careers, we’re more than happy to talk through disclosure with you, whether you’re confused, have made up your mind or just want to do a simple role play! If you are an Undergraduate, please access UCL Careers Extra appointments; if you’re a postgraduate, feel free to book any UCL Careers one-to-one appointment and we’ll give you a steer.

    Article written by Careers Consultant, Carla King: carla.king@ucl.ac.uk

    Resources:

    Dyslexia related reasonable adjustments

    Advice and guidance from the Equality and Human Rights Commission

    Reasonable adjustments examples from the Equality and Human Rights Commission

    Advice from the UK Government

    Advice for employers

    Telling Future Employers about Non-Visible Health Conditions: The Disclosure Conversation

    By UCL Careers, on 6 May 2018

    Having the disclosure conversation can be nerve-wracking but if you’re prepared, you will have the extra confidence and control you need, ensuring the focus is on the impact and your needs.

    Before preparing, ask yourself the following:

    • Do I have to tell my employer? (see previous blog)
    • Why do I want to tell them? (is this out of obligation or will be helpful to you?)
    • How do I feel about telling them? (whatever emotional response this elicited is very normal)

    Having a plan

    Having a disclosure plan for the conversation helps you keep the things you want the employer to concentrate on. There is also a bit of reflection and research you can do to support your plan.

    When will I tell the employer?

    This could be at application stage, at interview, before a test, after the job offer is made, when you’re in the workplace. When you disclose is entirely dependent on how comfortable you feel disclosing at any of these stages. It may be worth listing pros and cons to help you decide the timing.

    Where will I tell them?

    Think about what the conversation might look like. Will you speak to someone on the phone or will you do this in person? If the conversation is not face-to-face, how might this change what you want to say? E.g. how much time will you have with them?

    What will they say?

    Pre-empt questions or concerns. Think about how you might deal with a reaction. Two big questions they will likely have are:

    • How will this affect your work?
    • What support will you need?

    How will they react?

    There are two things to remember here – they are human and may react in a way you didn’t expect, and also that you have had time to absorb this information for a while, however they might need time to take it all in. Equally, of course, they may not react at all and take the information in their stride.

    What will I say?

    As the mainstay of the conversation, keep it positive. Remind them of what you do really well and, concisely, tell them about how you currently manage your condition at university. Highlight areas of work that might impact your condition, then focus on what support you can both put into place to help you do your job the most effectively. Think about what your employer might do to help you – are there any physical changes to your desk? Is there something about your working pattern that might help? Think about ways of working you can bring from university or what you found helped you. You can make clear whether or not this would be open information or if you would like things kept private and confidential. Remember, this is not only about what you can do, but also that employers have a duty of care to take away barriers in the workplace that exist because of your condition. They do this by providing reasonable adjustments (more in the final blog).

    How will I say it?

    Keep the conversation flowing and factual. Focus only on aspects that are relevant to the role.

    How will I ask for support?

    Once the information part of the conversation is over, if you feel this is the right time, you can move on to your needs: things that will help you integrate and help you to do your job effectively. This is the research bit – once you’ve identified areas in which you’ll need support, do some research on the sorts of things others have found very useful.

    Use your resources

    At UCL Careers, we’re more than happy to talk through disclosure with you, whether you’re confused, have made up your mind or just want to do a simple role play! If you are an Undergraduate, please access UCL Careers Extra appointments; if you’re a postgraduate, feel free to book any UCL Careers one-to-one appointment and we’ll give you a steer.

    Article written by Careers Consultant, Carla King: carla.king@ucl.ac.uk

    Resources:

    Equality Act & Human Rights Commission Contact: 0808 800 0082

    Disability confident employers registered with the Department for Work and Pensions

    Workplace adjustments: Equality Law

    Deciding Whether to Disclose Your Non-Visible Health Condition to a Future Employer

    By UCL Careers, on 3 May 2018

    The thought of disclosing your health condition or disability to someone you don’t know can seem quite daunting. ‘Disclosure’ – the very word denotes secrecy, something official.

    Man looking at computer screen

    The Equality Act 2010 states that in order to be covered by the Act, a health condition must be long-term and substantial, and impact your daily activities. Because of this, the Act covers everything from a reading and learning difficulty to chronic and terminal illness. Generally, there is no legal obligation to disclose your condition to an employer, although there are a few exceptions to this rule.

    If you’re unsure whether your condition is covered, or whether you’re obliged to disclose, do some research (see the Resources section below): are you covered under the Act? Do you have to disclose for the role you’re going for? When do you disclose?

    Once you’re more informed about where you stand legally, you’re likely to still have some reservations as to what to do next, particularly if your condition may not be immediately obvious. In fact, you may be tempted not to say anything. The following may help you in your decision-making.

    If you’ve read this far, you’re probably concerned about the consequences of telling an employer about your condition. Essentially, you would be passing sensitive information to someone else. You won’t know how they’ll react, what they’ll do with this information or how they’ll perceive you. It’s completely natural to feel this way. Appreciating that there are employers that don’t deal with disability in the fairest of ways, we also know there are many that do. You’ll have to have some leap of faith in this scenario, however you also have something else on your side: the Equality Act.

    Employers have a duty of care to take away barriers in the workplace that exist because of your condition. They do this by providing reasonable adjustments (more in another blog). The Act kicks in from the moment you come into contact with the employer in a recruitment process right through to leaving a job. However, you won’t be covered unless you disclose.

    We’ll deal with reasonable adjustment in our final blog, however some reasonable adjustments don’t cost much and make the world of difference in helping you manage your condition in the workplace.

    You’re probably concerned about who the employer will tell. If they are a medium or large organisation, and depending on who you are disclosing to, they’re likely to have an HR Manager, who will likely be the first person they’ll inform. The senior manager may also be told. They tend to be the only exceptions. You have the right to ask for confidentiality. This means you can control the flow of information and can tell colleagues if you want to.

    Moreover, by telling the employer, you’re taking control of the information they receive about your condition and about the way this impacts you. If your condition worsened or your performance were affected and then you chose to disclose, a later disclosure may damage some of the trust you have worked so hard to build. Transparency with your managers may build trust and creating this partnership can be very enabling.

    Woman writing at desk

    It’s also natural to worry about how an employer will perceive you when they learn about your condition, particularly if you strongly feel that it does not have a bearing on your capability to do the job. The reality is that if you’ve been offered an interview or receive a job offer, the organisation deems you to have potential to, or already be capable, of performing the role.

    You may also have concerns about being treated differently because of your condition. Let’s turn this around slightly by using an example. If you are dyslexic and would perform effectively in a psychometric test by being given more time, then this would be crucial to your succeeding to the next stage of the recruitment process. In this case, it would be about removing obstacles to ensure you are on a level playing field with other candidates. So, it’s not about giving you an extra advantage; it’s actually about giving you the same opportunity as everyone else.

    If you’re apprehensive about particular aspects of doing the job, we’ll look at preparing the disclosure conversation in the next blog.

    I’d like to leave you with these questions, which I hope will help you hone your decision:

    • If you tell your employer about your condition, what is the worst that can happen? What will you gain/ lose? How would this affect you?
    • What would happen if you didn’t tell them? How would this affect you?
    • What is holding you back from telling them? What would make you feel more comfortable?

    Whatever your decision is right now, build in some flexibility as you may want to disclose in the future. At UCL Careers, we’re more than happy to talk through disclosure with you, whether you’re confused, have made up your mind or just want to do a simple role play! If you are an Undergraduate, please access UCL Careers Extra appointments; if you’re a postgraduate, feel free to book any UCL Careers one-to-one appointment and we’ll give you a steer.

    This is the part one of series of three articles regarding disclosure. The next two deal with the disclosure conversation and requesting reasonable adjustments.

    Article written by Careers Consultant, Carla King: carla.king@ucl.ac.uk

    Resources:

    Video on the benefits of disclosing

    Video on the Pros & Cons of disclosing

    Equality Act & Human Rights Commission Contact: 0808 800 0082

    Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) helpline Contact: 0300 123 1100

    Focus on Management 2018 is now open – APPLY NOW!

    By UCL Careers, on 13 April 2018

     

     

    Taking place on Tuesday 5th & Wednesday 6th June, this year’s Focus on Management course is now accepting applications.

    If you want to…

    • Tackle a variety of real-life business challenges through case studies
    • Gain commercial awareness from some of the top graduate employers
    • Network with various graduate employers and managers from their departments
    • Begin the transition from university student to working professional

    … then Focus on Management 2018 is the course for you!

    Focus on Management is a two-day course packed full of activities, which will give you an interactive and rewarding immersion into the world of business. Your team-working, problem-solving and presentation skills will be put to the test. You will work in teams, facilitated by a team manager, on business case studies from graduate employers.

    You will have the opportunity to meet and learn from different companies, including Amazon, the Civil Service and GSK. More organisations to be announced soon. Previous years have included PwC, P&G, Capco, Wellcome Trust, ICAEW and WaterAid.

    See what students said about the course on YouTube

    Go to http://www.ucl.ac.uk/careers/focus for more details and application instructions

    If you are interested in this course, you may also be interested in graduate opportunities available from our sponsor Amazon. In particular, their Leadership Development Programme is suitable for aspiring managers. Once you complete Pathways, all kinds of opportunities open up for you across the full Amazon ecosystem, including Retail, Kindle, AWS (web services), and more.

    Previous Pathway graduates are now:

    • Directors of Fulfillment Centers
    • Speciality businesses, such as Prime Now
    • Customer Service Directors
    • Senior Managers of Transportation Optimisation
    • General Managers

    But of course, as a global ever-evolving company they have numerous opportunities throughout Europe across their operations, corporate to technology business areas. See below chart for both graduate programmes and internships available in Europe.

    Working in the Arts Forum

    By UCL Careers, on 1 March 2018

     

    Panellists

    Victoria Hogg – Co-Founder, Duck Duck Goose Improv

    James Baskerville – Junior Specialist, Christie’s

    Jo Knox – Learning Assistant, Royal Academy of Arts

    Jenny Cooper – Freelance Arts Facilitator

    Daniel Slater – Head of International Collection Exhibitions, Tate

    Dr Marquard Smith – Programme Leader, MA Museums & Galleries in Education, Department of Culture, Communication & Media, UCL Institute of Education

    Bryan Cooney – Director of: Exhibitor/Marketing/Brand/Sponsorship/Guests, MCM London Comic Con 

    The Working in the Arts Forum was held on the 14th November as part of the Museums and Cultural Heritage week. Seven speakers from various different roles in the Arts came to give students an overview of how they started out in their field of work, how their work has progressed and general helpful tips of how to get in to the industry.

    The panellists discussed that it is advantageous to always make the most of all opportunities that you find come your way. The first job that you may find may be a volunteering role (an example) at a small local gallery once a week. Be flexible and open to the possibility of working a part time or internship job with a job that you find less interesting to pay the bills. This opportunity may lead in time to a full time position in an industry or employer that you are keen to work for. The panel also discussed that volunteering may prove problematic for students who financially are unable to volunteer full time to gain experience. Part time volunteering was suggested. It was also discussed that the first role found may not necessarily be a role that is a first choice, however it may get students in to the industry, gaining experience and meeting people who may in the future higher for roles that maybe of interest.

    All of the panellists agreed that networking was a great way to expand opportunities, be it online or networking face to face. Opportunities may present themselves at the time or through a connection that students have made by building relationships. Using tools such as social media. Twitter was discussed as good way of keeping up to date with events within companies.

    It was discussed that it is easy to become deflated, especially at the beginning as students may receive no responses to opportunities that they have applied for. Keeping up persistence and knowing that they may not be successful immediately in the beginning. Discussions were also given to knowing how crucial it is to know the sector. There is no excuse for not knowing this in 2017. The internet is a huge resource.

    The panel discussed the need to be proactive. If students are not sure about how to apply, finding out by contacting the place of interest. When applying think about using any transferable skills that may have been accumulated already, such as any work or volunteering, even if you think it is not relevant to the job that you are applying for. Skills will have been built throughout university such as, leading on projects, teamwork and communication skills.

    The panellists then discussed that some people are lucky, they know what they want to do. Many people are not sure. Learning is the key, learn what you like. If you are not sure what you like, try a variety of different options. Some of the panellists discussed that they did not know what they wanted to do after leaving university. It was discussed and advised that it is really advisable to think about what you are good at, what are your best skills? One panellist discussed that he had no plan when he left university and that he spent his first year of work doing everything for experience, working in galleries, internship, working manual labour.

    Closing thoughts were be strategic, try to plan, pursue what you love.  Finding out what you love and figuring out how to get money from it. Every job you do is a pathway, everything will help, be adaptable to situations. Thinking outside the box, thinking and talking about art and creative ideas even when you are not at work.

     

    By UCL Careers, on 1 March 2018

    We had 15 organisations involved in International Development Week including governmental departments, charities, NGOs and private companies which shows the scope of opportunities which exist if you decide this is the sector for you.

    Our week started with a panel discussion bringing together representatives from Care International, Department for International Development (DFID), Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), Oxfam, PwC and was chaired by Dr Priti Parikh, Programme Director for MSc in Engineering for International Development.

    Our panellists working in diverse capacities from a humanitarian co-ordinator to a consultant shared their experience and insights to give students an insiders’ perspective of what to expect. Read Top Tips from Industry Experts on how to stand out.

    Laying the foundation for an understanding of the sector, Dr Callum Leckie presented an overview of the types of roles available, qualifications required, and how and where to gain experience. We were joined at the event by UCL alumni who’ve worked at British Pakistan Trust, The Hummingbird Foundation, MSF, Plan International, Save the Children, Wateraid and The World Bank for informal networking to answer questions on a one to one basis.

    Read Breaking into International Development and Working in International Development – Alumni Case Study.

    The Week drew to a close by highlighting graduate schemes with DFID, Charityworks and Mott MacDonald who also offer internships. A consistent message throughout has been the importance of volunteering and this can be undertaken in the UK via Volunteering Service or overseas with VSO.

    A student has summed up the Week: “It was directly focussed at our current stage in life as students and encouraged me to think about next steps. I have really enjoyed International Development Week and am looking forward to now seeking out more opportunities to find out more and get involved.”

     

    Breaking into International Development

    By UCL Careers, on 14 February 2018

    What do you imagine when you think of working in International Development? Maybe you envisage working on the ground in a remote, developing part of the world to address issues such as poverty, disease and education. This image of front line work provides the visible and public face of International Development but have you considered the wide range of roles and functions required to support the successful execution of projects on the ground? These support roles may be less visible but could provide a good foothold into International Development. For example, policy, advocacy/outreach, human resources, finance, IT.

    If you’re considering a career in this rewarding sector you will probably want to start preparing yourself sooner rather than later as International Development is a competitive field to break into.

    Here are a few tips to help you with this.

    • Have a clear idea about the kind of development work you want to do. This is likely to involve investigating the different roles within International Development and considering which of these roles might be a good fit for your academic background, experience, skills and career interests.
    • Think about specialist or technical skills/qualifications/experience that might be required and consider how you might acquire these.
    • Gain experience and build networks/contacts through volunteering activities, involvement in fundraising or campaigning activities, blogging etc…
    • Commitment to/experience of International Development is essential and it’s unlikely you’ll be able to secure a graduate position without having relevant experience (voluntary or paid) on your cv.
    • Consider gaining relevant/transferrable experience and qualifications outside the International Development sector. It’s not unusual for professionals to transition from the commercial sector into international development a few years into their career.

    To find out more about careers in International Development, including opportunities to meet employers and alumni working in this sector, please visit:

    http://www.ucl.ac.uk/careers/about/what_we_offer/events/themed-weeks/development

     

    Five top tips for launching your career in the charity sector

    By UCL Careers, on 6 February 2018

    Anjali Dwesar manages Charity Apprentice  – an online course run by international development charity Child.org. Charity Apprentice is a free 10-month course that anyone can do in their spare time to gain the skills needed for a career in the charity sector. A combination of online learning and real-life challenges, the course has been designed by charity professionals and covers topics ranging from effective advocacy to social enterprise to fundraising strategy to sustainable development.

    Anjali is here to give you her five top tips for launching your career in the charity sector.

    1. It’s all about the skills and experience
      The charity sector is extremely competitive, and landing a job in the sector isn’t based on good intentions unfortunately. In order to stand out amongst the other candidates, it’s really important to build up your skills and experience during your time at university and beyond. You need to demonstrate to employers that you’re qualified for the role and that you’re going to make a success of it. Of course, you must demonstrate passion for the cause of the charity – but ultimately, it’s your skills and experience that will get you the job.
    1. Find out what you’re good at
      The sector is hugely diverse, and there are such a wide variety of jobs available. Saying that you want to work for a charity is not enough – you need to think carefully about your skill-set and what you can bring to the sector. It’s not just campaigners, fundraisers or volunteer managers that the sector needs – there are jobs in designing, coding, project management, and many more. Explore the team page of charity websites and look at the kinds of jobs available – you might surprise yourself!
    1. Be impact-driven
      I’ve met some of the most passionate and inspiring people in the charity sector. Yes, it is a lovely place to work but that doesn’t mean it’s easy! If you’re working in the sector, your job is to make the world a better place and that’s hard work. You need to demonstrate in your applications that you’re driven by the question: how can I make the most impact in my job?
    1. It’s not what you know…
      Don’t rely on the big charity recruitment websites – smaller charities might not have the budget to post their opportunities on there. Make sure you’re using lots of different tools to find out about job vacancies, both online and offline.  Use LinkedIn, Twitter (#charityjobs), Facebook groups, attend charity networking groups, events etc.
    1. Don’t give up!
      You might not get your dream job straight away, but all experience you gain will be valuable. Say yes to opportunities and work hard – you will get there!

    To find out more about Charity Apprentice, visit  charityapprentice.org.

     

     

    Employer case study: Love the Oceans

    By UCL Careers, on 5 February 2018

    by Francesca Trotman

    How did you get into your role?
    My name is Francesca Trotman, I’m the Managing Director and Founder of the non-profit marine conservation organisation called Love The Oceans. We’re based in Mozambique, I have my residency there so live there most of the year. I come back to England periodically for recruitment and to visit family.

    I’ve been obsessed with sharks since I was eight years old. I learnt to dive when I was 13. I knew I always wanted to do something to do with the oceans at University so I chose Marine Biology as it was an obvious choice and did it at University of Southampton. I did the integrated Masters course there (four years). At the end of my second year I went on holiday to Mozambique for diving and saw my first shark killing which was very emotional given my attachment to sharks. I soon realised that it was the shark fin industry as a whole I needed to be angry at, not the individuals doing the killing since the education level is so low in our area, the fishermen have no idea about the damage they’re doing.

    I went back to uni and found a supervisor who would support me to go back to Mozambique and work out how bad the shark fishing problem is there. I found Ken Collins, who gave me a lecture slot to the year below where I recruited three research assistants to come and spend four months with me and the fishermen over the summer of my 3rd year to collect data for my 4th year (masters) dissertation. When I was writing up the results for my dissertation back in England they were pretty much what you’d expect in terms of sustainability of shark fishing and the potential negative implications for the local marine ecosystem. However, my stats weren’t significant because I didn’t have enough data which meant I couldn’t publish my paper or do anything about the fishing going on. I began to look at how financially I could continue my data collection and build a team to help out. I started researching NGOs and the conservation volunteering space and that is where Love The Oceans was born from, I founded it November 2014. The sole reason we’re not a charity is that I founded it whilst I was still doing my masters and charities are a load more paperwork than non-profits! I recruited my first batch of volunteers whilst finishing my masters and ran the first programs summer 2015. And the rest, they say, is history…

    What are the best things about working in your role?
    It’s an incredibly rewarding line of work. Working with the local community is very uplifting and of course I get to scuba dive and snorkel with some truly amazing animals, including whale sharks, humpback whales and manta rays.  I also am continuously keeping up to date with new scientific studies and methodologies which is also exciting. All the research we do is the first of its kind in the area so it’s incredibly satisfying. I find what we do endlessly interesting and I’m never bored.

    There are lots of different areas involved in our work so you build a multitude of skills in the field. Since we have zero funding, our motto is always to ‘make a plan’. Something doesn’t work? Make a plan. Car broken down in the middle of nowhere? Make a plan. Ran out of paint? Make a plan. You gain some really great life and survival skills that are incredibly useful in Mozambique but completely useless in a developed country.

    We meet a lot of different people from a lot of different backgrounds and I love inspiring people to get passionate about marine conservation and pursue their dreams. A perk of the job is that I get to live on a beautiful beach for 70% of the year. Pretty cool. I love my job.

    What are the biggest challenges you face in your work?
    Money. We have none. We’ve been running three years and it’s incredibly difficult to make ends meet in this industry and still be ethical – we don’t want to turn into a money guzzling machine that operates in 100 countries and has no specific goal to achieve. I live in a straw hut in Mozambique and I stay with my parents when I come to England. It sucks not being paid. As a UK company abroad to get anywhere there are a HUGE number of hurdles to overcome to run an organisation – we spend about £4k on insurance alone annually and we can’t even afford to pay our staff, it’s a killer. Hopefully one day soon we can get paid but right now the organisation runs on people’s good wills, family and friends’ support, and most of us have a main job and do LTO tasks on the side. I’m the only full time worker for LTO. But, at the end of the day, I really love what I do and so I don’t mind going without.

    In Mozambique we struggle with trying to encourage people to think more sustainably, see the bigger picture, and take action. Women’s place in society is something that we constantly address. Encouraging women to seek careers is something we feel passionately about. Typically in our rural location local women start their periods, get married, have kids and that’s it. Average family size is 10 kids, men can have more than one wife but wives may not have more than one husband. As three women running a conservation organisation it’s tricky, a couple of times I’ve caught a look of complete shock when I’ve done something that typically a woman would never do in their culture, it’s kind of depressing but also fairly entertaining and satisfying to blow stereotypes out of the water.

    What top tips would you pass on to a student interested in this type of work?
    Don’t go into conservation science if you want to make money. You won’t. Go into conservation science if you’re extremely passionate about what you do. Find a great team to do it with, make sure you get on with your co-workers. Working in a remote region can get pretty intense. If you want to work in the field, make sure you’re OK living without makeup, straighteners or a hairdryer. We’ve been building a magnificent LTO team over the last three years and we’re now at a point where I feel the individuals that make up our team are so awesome that there is nothing we can’t do. Everyone is so passionate about LTO, making a difference and meeting our goals. It’s awesome.

    If you’re researching organisations to work with, I would recommend digging. Just digging, digging, digging to get as much info on them as possible and check their ethics. There is SO much legislation in the UK surrounding health and safety abroad but absolutely nothing regarding ethics abroad. Don’t go with organisations that work with animals in captivity, support elephant riding, or let you work for long periods in orphanages. Research the ethics around each activity you’ll be doing. We’ve got some info on ethical volunteering on our website and the questions to be asking if you want more info.

    When I look at a volunteer or staff’s application, I immediately first go to their qualifications. If you want to work in science you need a degree. A masters will make you much more desirable, a PhD even more so. After this I look at scuba diving qualifications and the number of logged dives they have. I then go and look at how passionate and enthusiastic they are. We only want the most passionate and enthusiastic individuals working for us. It’s really important to get this across in an application.

    Generally, I’d recommend while you’re at University to grab absolutely every opportunity you can. I built up my CV as much as I could before I left uni and then founded my own organisation anyway. I’d really recommend just grabbing life and making every second count.

    Employer case study: How I got into the environment and sustainability sector

    By UCL Careers, on 5 February 2018

    I am Costanza Poggi, policy adviser in Green Alliance’s political leadership theme. My team focuses on political advocacy and building alliances to impact the biggest policy decisions on the environment.

    1. How did you get into your role?

    After my masters in Environment, Development and Policy, it took a year to get my first job. I did two short internships, some freelance contracts for environmental organisations and a stint of nannying when I couldn’t find anything else. But when ‘Environment Sector graduate scheme’ finally appeared in my email alerts, I applied instantly.

    I hadn’t heard of Green Alliance before, so I went straight to their website, staff page and blog, which gave me a sense of what the organisation did, and I got more of a feel for the organisation by reading their opinion pieces.

    With masters and undergraduate degrees mostly focused on international politics, I didn’t know a huge amount about UK environmental politics and policy. By doing my research I was able to perform well at the interview and be honest about what I did and didn’t know. I was clear that I could apply lots of what I already knew to a new context. The good thing about a graduate scheme is that employers are much more interested in your demonstrable drive and passion than your knowledge in the field, which they know you’ll develop on the job.

    I was surprised and pleased to be offered the job and started as a policy assistant, along with four others, on a year-long graduate scheme. After about eight months, my team went through some changes, and I found myself gradually taking on more responsibility, and when a policy adviser role came up, I was in a great position to apply.

    1. What are the best things / biggest challenges about working in your role?

    Politics is a cross cutting theme at Green Alliance, so, unlike some of the other teams, I work on many different topics. In order to respond to political opportunities (in an increasing unpredictable landscape) we often have to be able to draw on expertise of colleagues or get up to speed on new topics –  anything from air pollution to fisheries or land management very quickly. The variety is great but it also means being a very reactive and strong communicator.

    The best thing about my job is having the time to think about who we’re trying to influence and how we’re going to do it. This means talking to people right across the environment sector and partnering with businesses and NGOs. We target the most senior decision makers in the country, so I get to see first-hand the effect and influence what we do has on politicians and their work – like seeing our work cited in the government’s 25 year plan for the environment.

    Following the political cycle has its downsides though, as a lot of our planning and strategising is at the mercy of rapidly changing political events. What is key is knowing how to prioritise and to accept that you might have to drop whatever you’ve spent the past five hours working hard on.

    The real perk of the job is feeling fulfilled and passionate about what I do. The political events of the past 18 months and the media narratives that accompany them can be disheartening at times, but seeing that what we do can directly influence political decisions and bring positive change gives me great hope and satisfaction.

    1. What top tips would you pass on to a student interested in this type of work?

    Get involved: There’s so much you can do to demonstrate your interest in the environment and sustainability. You can volunteer for a local wildlife project, start or join a campaign or sign up to a society at university, all of which will make it easy to demonstrate your interest in your application and give you a feel for different types of jobs you could do.

    There are lots of opportunities to talk to people – think tanks and institutes hold lots of events, so add yourself to their mailing list if they have one to find out more about them. Networking is obviously helpful, but so is experiencing how organisations in the public, private and third sector interact in the same sphere. You might also get a better idea of which part of the sector you might want to work in. Businesses, government, media and NGOs are all very different.

    Get the basics out of the way – look at the kind of jobs you want to apply for early on, read the skill requirements and then take up any opportunity you have to develop the ones you don’t have whilst still at university – this might mean writing a couple of blogs to prove your ability to write for more than academic audiences, or helping out a charity with some admin or event support – so you won’t be held back when you’re ready to start looking for work.

    Do your research – you can understand so much about an organisation like mine from its social media, events and publications, follow them and look them up beforehand. This will also help you understand whether or not it is the right place for you and the direction you want to go in – which is the most important thing.

    Relax – there’s no set path to follow, and you might do lots of different things before you find out what suits you, but stay keen and willing to learn and it will show.