X Close

UCL Careers

Home

Find Your Future

Menu

Archive for the 'LMI' Category

Environmental Careers Week: UCL sustainability staff share their experiences

Weronika ZBenning18 February 2016

As part of UCL Careers Environmental Careers Week, we asked members of staff around UCL about their environmental jobs, what motivates them and what tips they’d give to recent graduates.

Evan Landy, Sustainability Officer

Evan

What does your role consist of?

My role covers three main areas of sustainability at UCL. I use the RICS Ska sustainable fit-out tool to embed sustainability into refurbishment projects throughout the estate – this involves designing in measures to drive energy efficiency, waste reduction, procure environmentally friendly materials and to maximise occupant wellbeing within refurbished spaces. I also spend time auditing and assuring both construction and occupational activities to monitor and reduce our operational environmental impacts and risks. Lastly, I am involved in driving the UCL Estates Biodiversity Action Plan to monitor and improve biodiversity on site through designing in green roofs to new building projects and incorporate biodiversity enhancements elsewhere around campus.

What got you interested in the environment?

I always enjoyed spending time outside as I was growing up, whether it was outdoor sports or wildlife watching and when it came to thinking about my career, the only thing I wanted to do was to contribute to the multitude of challenges that I began to realise were affecting the environment. I have been lucky enough to experience some of the most spectacular sights and sounds on the planet – from watching blue whales in the Atlantic Ocean to trekking up Mount Kenya and ultimately I am driven by such experiences and wanting to do my bit to protect that for future generations. I think it is important to realise that economic development is inevitable which brings challenges and also opportunities as new technologies, research and collaboration can help ensure this is done more sustainably than in the past.

What tips would you give to someone interested in this field?

I think it is really important to gain experience in all walks of life, work with and understand the needs of different people and why being sustainable might not be at the forefront of everyone’s agenda. Ultimately, not everyone is going share the same passion for the environment as you so it is critical to understand what else can drive sustainability – often there are tangible benefits such as costs and wellbeing that need to be identified and communicated effectively. Most importantly though, I would say that there is no conventional way in to a career in sustainability – although it helps to have a degree in an environmental discipline for some roles, it is often not a prerequisite and please do not be put off if you have other skills as we need talented environmental writers, artists, lawyers, economists and people across all industries to work together towards resolving the worlds environmental and sustainability challenges.

Jennifer Hazelton, Strategic Research Facilitator for the Environment Domain

Jennifer

What does your role consist of?

My role is multi-faceted and involves working with academics right across the UCL Schools, Departments, Institutes and other research groupings. I help to identify, publicise and coordinate opportunities for funding in environment-related areas, particularly where there is an interdisciplinary element which could not be provided within an individual unit. I look after the publicising of UCL Environment research, including the Environment Domain website, twitter feed, blog site and emails, keeping up to date with what is going on across campus. I liaise with colleagues in professional services such as Research Services, UCL Press, Web and Marketing, Estates and Information Services in order to support UCL’s environment-related research and the Domain.

What got you interested in the environment?

I have always loved the outdoors, having grown up surrounded by lots of open space in Northumberland. The role of the environment in the health and wellbeing of me, my family, friends and the rest of humanity has gradually become clearer; so too the impact we, individually and collectively, have on everything from our immediate surroundings to global systems. The power of nature is awe-inspiring, and humankind has shown remarkable adaptability and resilience in the face of environmental hazards, but equally we pose our own threats to the world around us. A desire to understand the relationships between people and their environment led me to study Geography as an undergraduate, and everything I have done since.

What tips would you give to a current student keen to work in this field?

I think the attributes which I have that helped me get to this position are having an interest in almost every field of study. I work with academics from all  disciplines and need to be able to broadly grasp what they do and find linkages or gaps between them. At school I enjoyed all subjects, then went on to study a degree which provides an excellent base for most environment-related disciplines. I then took a job as a Research Assistant, where I was able to study part time for my PhD, and gradually moved across from a purely research role to a professional services position when I realised that I didn’t want to be involved in a single line of research. My advice would be to remain open minded and take opportunities that present themselves, even if they differ from what you might have planned (I always wanted to be a school teacher!)

Ciaran Jebb, Sustainability Officer (Energy)

Ciaran

What does your role consist of?

In my role as Sustainability Officer (Energy), I am supporting improvements to UCL’s energy management and the energy and carbon performance of the University’s construction and refurbishment projects. At the moment I’m working to improve our energy billing and making sure we’re meeting our legal obligations for things like our buildings’ Display Energy Certificates as well as our own sustainability reporting. I’ve only just started at UCL, but I’m looking forward to helping implement energy saving initiatives in collaboration with UCL’s departments and getting started on UCL’s Living Lab project, supporting research which uses the campus as a test bed for research.

What got you interested in the environment?

I have always been interested in renewable energy, and while studying Chemistry as an undergraduate I worked on developing new materials that can be used to improve solar technology. I’m a keen cyclist, even in London, and I believe there should be no difference between living comfortably and living sustainably. I want to help create positive environmental change and for the last two years I’ve been an active member of my local Green Party. This gives me the chance to talk to lots of people about living sustainably, and how that can improve their wellbeing and our shared environment.

What tips would you give to a current student keen to work in this field?

My advice is not to be afraid of changing your mind and taking a non-direct path to do what you want. After graduation I worked in accountancy for several years, before deciding to pursue my interest in sustainability. And although it’s been a big change, the skills I developed have been really useful in my current role – I still deal with a lot of numbers. I can’t emphasise enough the importance of getting experience. Because I started on a non-environmental career path, the volunteering I did outside my job was essential in allowing me to make the jump into an environmental role. And remember that sustainability is an incredibly broad area, and increasingly opportunities will appear in organisations and industries that would never have considered it important before.

UCL Career’s Environment and Sustainability Week took place in the week commencing 8th February. Make sure you join us next year for a similar programme of events: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/careers/events/getinto/environment

UCL Alumna Profile: Christina Sparks, Primary Teacher with ARK Teacher Training

ManpreetDhesi16 April 2014

 Christina graduated from UCL in 2011 with a degree in English. She is currently training to become a primary school teacher at Reach Academy with ARK Teacher Training. Here, Christina takes some time to talk about her experiences at UCL, how these have helped prepare her for her career, and how she is able to make a big difference with ARK Teacher Training.

Christina Sparks photoAfter she graduated, Christina worked for a major global investment bank. Between her second and third years of study, she successfully completed an internship with the bank who offered her a job upon graduation. There, she worked as a Document Management Analyst, managing client relationships and contracts. Despite this being an interesting experience, Christina felt that there were other ways in which she’d like to be challenged, including making better use of her English skills.

Throughout her time at UCL, Christina worked as a student ambassador taking part in school visits and showing students aged between 14 and 18 what life was like at university. It was this experience that first piqued an interest in teaching, especially when she discovered that some children have had a very different experience of education compared to hers. ‘I was always pushed, and we were told that we could be whatever we wanted to be’ she recalls, ‘but it seems that there are a lot of young people out there who aren’t getting that encouragement’.

She left the bank after a year and joined Reach Academy as a teaching assistant, and this was where she discovered ARK Teacher Training. She had spoken to colleagues about becoming a teacher, and they mentioned ARK’s highly supportive programme. ‘The programme sounded great. It looked really tough, and it is, but the multi-layered support from ARK has been fantastic. I meet with my mentor (also a UCL alumnus) really frequently and get weekly training from ARK’s experts. The course is also academically very rigorous’.

The rewards are also great: ‘I love teaching primary. There is more fun, more joy in the classroom. It’s an amazing experience when you teach a Year One child to read and they turn round and say “I can’t believe I’ve just read something!”’

Looking back, Christina recalls UCL’s impact on the success of her teacher training year: ‘my time at UCL prepared me very well for teaching. The emphasis on self-reliance and self-motivation from UCL is vital to teaching and training with ARK, because there is a huge amount to get done and it is very much down to you to sort it. That said, I have had a huge amount of support from ARK, and the excellent mentoring arrangements they have feel similar to the relationships I had with my tutors at UCL.

‘My degree from UCL has also equipped me with some useful skills for the classroom and work more generally. We were always encouraged to be inquisitive, and this really helps when dealing with small children since quite often, if something is wrong, they can’t really explain what or why. My self-awareness and communication skills were also really improved by my time at UCL.’

Christina’s main advice to current UCL students thinking about their careers is to do their research before applying for a role; ultimately it is something they will be doing every day and they should be motivated by the organisation’s mission and ethos. Equally, students should remember that if they outgrow a role, they will have plenty of transferable skills to take forward to a new job or even career, as Christina herself experienced!

ARKTeacherTraining logoARK Schools is an education charity and one of the country’s top-performing academy operators. Its aim is to create outstanding schools that give every pupil, regardless of their background, the opportunity to go to university or pursue the career of their choice and they are taking part in UCL Careers’ Employability Summer School – a 2 week programme running between 2nd – 13th June.