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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  • Museums Forum

    By UCL Careers, on 1 March 2018


    Dr Danielle Thom – Curator of Making at the Museum of London (previously at V&A)

    Jack Ashby – Manager of the UCL Grant Museum of Zoology

    Stephanie O’Neill-Winbow – Family and Community Learning Officer at the London Transport Museum

    The Museums Forum was held on the 16th November, as part of the Museums and Cultural Heritage Week. The three speakers were working in various roles and at different stages of their career, and as such, there were a range of interesting ideas and views expressed.

    The panellists shared what they consider to be the most interesting and rewarding aspects of their role. Danielle, from the Museum of London, spoke about physically and emotional connecting with the past, like that time she held Michelangelo’s thumbprint. However, perhaps unsurprisingly, engaging the public seemed to be something enjoyed by all; helping someone or indeed whole families see what they see and so connect with the past.

    Stephanie shared some of the understanding she tries to impart to visitors. The London Transport Museum is not solely about transport. London has been shaped into the city it is today is because of transport. Hence, the museum is communicating the social history of London, contributing to one’s understanding of London’s development. But it’s not all about the past. Interestingly, for a museum of zoology, the Grant’s main aim is more contemporary than one may appreciate at first glance. As a university museum a primary role of the Grant Museum is to make UCL’s academic research relevant and enjoyable to the public, for example various art exhibitions interpreting current research.

    Whether past or contemporary, they also enjoy applying their creative skills as they adapt displays or create exhibitions for the public. Museums are reliant on visitors for their continued existence, and so there is an increasing need to be creative and develop new practices in their public engagement. This experimentation and subsequent learning can be very exciting. A word of warning from Danielle though; the work of a curator can be quite menial at times (crawling through cupboards, carting trolleys, etc.) so be prepared to get stuck in.

    It was suggested that the difference between those who get jobs in this area and those who don’t relates to understanding the reason why museums do the activities they do. Through some work experience one can easily learn how to write documentations, labels, school workshops, how to deliver family learning sessions etc, but an applicant needs to demonstrate an understanding of the reason and strategy behind the display or event. So when you are next visiting a museum think about why the museum chose to organise and communicate this material, and not another, in the way they did. Don’t be afraid to ask someone in the museum.

    There were further important messages around transitioning into a substantive position. Stephanie shared her challenges in securing permanent employment. While volunteering she demonstrated her determination and her ability, “if something needed to be done, I’d do it”, and so the organisation advised her to become a freelancer. There were no permanent positions but they could hire her for projects. This was not what she wanted, but she tried it out. She started out delivering school sessions, but after a time was running the whole family programme. She believes this ‘jump’ in level of role was solely down to going freelance. She believes it would have taken her years longer to get to the same level if she had of secured a permanent position from the beginning. From this experience, she was able to gain a part time role that led directly to a full-time permanent position. Danielle suggested that one should thread the fine line between being flexible and strategic. Don’t get so narrow in your specialism that you lose the ability to be a generalist. Don’t be too niche and so close opportunities off. Equally, if you don’t have a particular area of expertise think carefully about how you will position yourself. Perhaps this could be supplemented with by some experience communicating or educating the public in art, history, and so on. PhDs are not generally a prerequisite but can help (showing motivation and research skills), however you may end up working in an area outside of your topic of study. Danielle suggested that museums with more of an art focus, compared to social or scientific focus, tend to expect applicants to hold a PhD.

    Leicester museums job desk which is updated on a Thursday afternoons was highlighted as the best job site for this area of work.


    Cultural Heritage Forum

    By UCL Careers, on 1 March 2018

    So what is cultural heritage?
    Cultural heritage encompasses three main areas:

    Built environment:  man-made structures such as buildings and ruins
    Natural environment: e.g. cliffs, rural landscapes or woodland
    Artefacts: E.g. Books, pottery, pictures   or paintings



    Best things about working in the sector
    Our speakers shared with us why they enjoy working in this sector. Even though they all have different roles and backgrounds, lots of similarities were clear:

    • Variety – of objects, tasks, sites and people.
    • The opportunity to influences change – in policy, in planning decisions and in people’s opinions
    • You get to argue a case – for things that have no voice of their own

    Challenges of working in the sector
    The main issue that came up time and time again was – the competitive nature of the job. It is such a popular sector to get into. Luckily, our speakers shared some top tips for getting ahead in the race. A master’s degree is not always enough to get you in.

    5 Top Tips for Students 

    1. Don’t panic if you don’t know what job you want to go into – there might be jobs you do not know exists.
    2. Network and meet as many people in the field as you can.
    3. Think about what you can offer that is different from other people – so for example getting involved in fundraising and understanding that process or working with young people
    4. Take every opportunity for experience that comes to you, whether this is volunteering, doing field work or part-time work. This can often lead to full time jobs
    5. Have confidence and patience if your first few attempts at applying come to nothing.

    Finally we opened up to some question from the students
    You talked about networking a lot – where can I meet relevant people?

    • On the masters programmes – your peers and academics
    • Talks by professionals – speak to them!
    • Create or join groups on Facebook
    • University open talks (look on their website/twitter)
    • Read professional blogs– and contact them with the personal touch “I read your blog about….what is your opinion about…I’d like to find out more….”

    How much volunteering work does it take to get a paid job?

    • It really depends on the organisation and what you do
    • Sadly, it is often being in the right place and the right time
    • However, think about helping with social media communications or online content which could be done at home. This is sometimes a skill that is lacking.

    Can you work in others roles, such as PR?

    • Yes! It actually has good links with cultural heritage e.g. exhibitions. It is a great area to get in.
    • You will have to have skills such as PR and administration anyway when working with a smaller company.
    • They really need people with a commercial or business head
    • You often need to have a problem-solving brain e.g. how can I build an apartment building on top of a roman boat – whilst preserving the boat and avoiding sinking the building…

    Many thanks to our speakers:

    Freya Stannard, Manager of the Acceptance in Lieu and Cultural Gifts Schemes at Arts Council England.

    Ruth Dewhirst, Education Assistant in the Charles Dickens Museum

    Dr Jane Sidell. The Inspector of Ancient Monuments for London

    Nick Bishop, Senior Heritage Consultant at Planning Consultancy Lichfields

    Working in the Arts Forum

    By UCL Careers, on 1 March 2018



    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.


    Museum careers – the freelancer perspective

    By UCL Careers, on 1 March 2018

     Emma Shepley – Freelance curator and museum consultant 

    Confession – I have been a museum freelancer for just one year. Until last autumn I had been in permanent museum curatorial and managerial roles for over twenty years. I was running a London museum, managing a team and prodding multiple projects and priorities along every day. I was also regularly recruiting freelancers for projects I wanted to do myself but didn’t have time.  My role was hugely rewarding, but when I was ready to go, I absolutely did not want to move straight to another intensive plate-spinning job, so I went freelance and started off by taking on a project from the museum I was leaving. It has proved one of the best career moves I have made.

    Museum freelancing is largely seen as an option for much later in your career – not when you are starting out. This is true to an extent – you’ve got to be at least somewhat expert and experienced to convince someone to pay you to do something! But it is good to think ahead and realise early on that you can progress your career by working flexibly around the structures of permanent jobs.

    Freelancers are most common in the fields of museum learning, marketing and evaluation – where employing external people to promote, deliver and evaluate programmes is established practice across the sector. But freelancers and contractors are also employed by many museums to develop, research and deliver galleries and exhibitions, train staff, review collections, write policies, apply for funding and provide interim support at every level. Freelancing might well be an option for you once you have:

    • Developed expertise and experience in specific areas of museum work
    • Good networks of colleagues and contacts who know and trust you
    • Identified a stream of likely work
    • Explored the personal and financial implications of the change

    My year of freelancing has transformed my professional practice and has been so positive that I’d suggest that every museum professional give it a go at some point in their career. The range of new experiences, colleagues and collections that comes with delivering work for clients as a contractor, not a permanent employee, is thoroughly refreshing.

    Another benefit if you have worked in one organisation for many years – you may feel institutionalised, only able work your museum magic because you know everything and everyone backwards. Freelancing is great for testing this assumption and gaining greater insight into the differences and similarities that museum staff experience everywhere.

    There are cons of course. The major one is financial insecurity – permanent museum jobs offer regular salaries, pensions and a range of perks from training budgets and season ticket loans to Christmas parties and a biscuit tin. You have to fund your own training as well as the risk of periods of unemployment and clearly define the fees you will and won’t work for.

    A few years in to your museum career, you may look around and realise that you need to be as flexible and dedicated to making your next move as you were in getting that first elusive first job. So keep evaluating your strengths and priorities to find out which roles work to bring your most authentic self to work, keep your passion for museums alive and enjoy the challenge.



    Steering your career towards South East Asia

    By UCL Careers, on 1 March 2018

    At the recent Global Careers Series event at UCL, we were joined by a panel of speakers who discussed their experience and tips for students and recent graduates looking to find work experience, or a more permanent job, in South East Asia.

    We were lucky enough to hear from:

    • Shamini Darshni Kalimuthu, Executive Director of Amnesty International Malaysia (and currently on sabbatical at SOAS);
    • Peter Gibbinson, Regional Head of Standard Chartered;
    • Yong Chaulet, UCL Alum (Previously Thai Embassy, ExxonMobil Thailand, Bangkok Public Relations);
    • Amy Wong, UCL Student with previous internship experience at the Singapore Government; and
    • Ally Hawley, Ex-Student Recruitment in Malaysia.

    Here’s what one of our panellists said about their top tip for finding work in South East Asia:

    “My top tip for students looking to work in South East Asia would be use your network – I found my job in Kuala Lumpur through an ex colleague I stayed in touch with. As a student here in London you’re likely to have classmates from South East Asia who you’re studying with right now. Use their knowledge and experience of the region when applying for roles. Also remember to continue to develop your network throughout your time at university and after you graduate, make use of your university’s alumni platform and LinkedIn, both can be used as an excellent resource when seeking work in a particular region!” 

    Expanding Your Network at UCL
    As our panellist said, if you’re interested in finding out more about working in South-East Asia, make sure you utilise UCL’s strength as a university with tens of thousands of alumni based all over the world.

    Have you started to take advantage of UCL’s alumni mentoring network? If not, consider signing up and looking for mentors in countries and industries that appeal to you. There is a whole range of knowledge and advice to be gained from using this system. You can find out more and sign up here.

    Want to learn more about this region?
    Luckily, there is a range of useful websites out there to help you. For example, Goinglobal (which UCL subscribes to) contains guides to finding work and making applications in Singapore and Vietnam. Another useful resource, Prospects, contains guides to Malaysia and Singapore.

    Additionally, Gradlink have a dedicated section for South East Asia, including advice for working in different sectors in Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, and Singapore.

    Jobs Boards

    • JobsDB job listings in Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, and Hong Kong
    • Indeed Malaysia internships in Kuala Lumpar
    • JobStreet for jobs in Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Philippines, and Indonesia

    Other considerations
    Working abroad can be an enriching and exciting experience, but there are a few things you might like to think about before embarking on a trip of a lifetime. Will you be comfortable with being away from familiar surroundings and your established support network? Will you be able to adapt to a different culture? You might find it useful to look at a website such as Just Landed to gain an insight into the expat experience in your chosen destination.

    You’ll need to be careful that your entry visa covers any work you may do while in another country, guides such as Internations  can be a useful starting point, but make sure you also check official sources such as the embassy website of your intended destination.

    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.”


    Working in International Development – Top Tips from Industry Experts!

    By UCL Careers, on 21 February 2018

    If you’re considering a career in international development, you might already be aware that this is a competitive sector to break into. As part of International Development Week we have asked some of our themed week contributors, with experience in this sector, to tell us some of their top tips.

    1. Joshua Adams, Europe Policy Analyst, UK Department for International Development.

    ‘Make sure to use the full breadth of your experiences in applications – formal and informal education, training and learning, workplace experience, sports groups and social collectives. I’ve seen a range of examples from touring rock bands to UN youth panels used in applications. As long as the narrative from situation to result, and what was learnt in between, is well formed, you can easily demonstrate the transferability of important skills. This is particularly relevant for competency based applications!’

    1. Alexandros Yiannopoulos, Humanitarian Coordinator covering Middle East, North and Southern Africa in Oxfam’s Global Humanitarian Team.

    ‘There is no substitute for experience, this is a catch 22 situation which frustrated me when I set out at the beginning, but now looking back and making decisions on who to employ at whatever level of seniority, experience counts and becomes the litmus test.  There have been times when I have made a decision when someone had done an excellent interview, not to recruit them because they did not have the right level of experience for the role.  For entry level roles, get voluntary experience that is relevant, this shows that you have commitment and drive towards the role you would like and are applying for.’

    1. Katie Bisaro, Careers Consultant and Deputy Head, UCL Careers, and former Programme Manager at Save the Children,

    ‘My biggest recommendation for working in the sector, or more specifically when you are breaking your way into the sector, is to stay on people’s radar- the sector moves rapidly and opportunities can come up very quickly, so keep yourself at the forefront of your contacts’ mind’

    1. Soha Sudtharalingam, International Development Consultant, PwC.

    ‘You can’t change the world on day one, whilst the work is exciting, be prepared to get your hands dirty when you first join. There’s a lot of admin that needs to be done, i.e. reporting as donors require them.’

    Follow the news and be aware of political changes, political economy is key in decision making and this cascades down to every level of work you do.

    Be prepared to be humbled, it’s a humbling experience when visiting the field. Don’t go in knowing it all.

    Network, network, network! You only broaden your insights if you talk to people outside your circle who bring new ideas and ways of thinking.’

    If you missed our International Development Week events then visit http://www.ucl.ac.uk/careers and look out for themed week event recordings.


    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:



    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.