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Sustainability Fortnight: Careers in Conservation, Ecology & Wildlife

Joe SSprecher15 March 2019

 

Careers in Conservation panel

The 20th of February saw our second panel discussion for Sustainability Fortnight exploring careers in Conservation, Ecology & Wildlife. Our panellists were:

We heard from each panellist about their career path and the decisions that led them to their current roles – to hear their stories, you can read their biographies and view the event recording.

The speakers had plenty of advice for current students – and what you can do now to shape your own career.

Get involved

Gwen Buck, Policy Advisor at the Green Alliance, found her career after becoming interested in the politics around the environment and conservation. She found that involving herself in events and networking opportunities in the local area enabled her to find out about companies and career opportunities she might not have found otherwise.

“Make sure to ask people plenty of questions!” – Gwen Buck, Policy Advisor at Green Alliance

Clare Pugh, Senior Ecologist at Atkins, also recommended joining the Ecology Network as another way to broaden understanding of the industry and access contacts and career opportunities.  Both panellists were keen to point out that even though experience might not be in the form of a formal work placement any experience can still be greatly beneficial.

David Kirby, Associate Ecologist at WPS, finally added that “gaining any kind of experience is a good idea”.  This can be particularly useful in gaining practical experiences such as surveying and gaining a surveying license; these are necessities of the roles at his firm and can be gained whilst still a student.

Attitude

Jonathan Brauner, Logistics and Business Liaison at Wildlife for All, was keen to stress the importance of a positive attitude when working in this area.  “All of the staff at our organisation are voluntary” he stated.  “This means that it is vital that anyone looking to work with us has the right attitude, both in giving their time and their approach to the work”.  Gaining work experience in the industry can often be temporary, unpaid or physically exerting and therefore anyone looking to participate should be positive they are willing to take part and happy to do a range of tasks.

Persistence is key

Francesca Trotman is the Founder of charity Love The Oceans and was keen to point out that persistence has been a key trait which her career has benefitted from.  “I always knew what I wanted to do but setting up a charity which works in Mozambique has plenty of challenges”, she said, “but I’ve been told I won’t be able to do something 1,000 times and have always managed to do them so far”.  She also felt that being flexible is a real benefit, particularly due to the atypical types of opportunity that come up to someone looking to work in the industry.

Potential growth areas

The panel were asked about potential growth areas which students may see increased opportunity in for the near future. Clare discussed areas within her work in sustainability for large consultancies and pinpointed biodiversity net-gain (improving biodiversity rather than simply offsetting losses) as an area that is being increasingly promoted within her field.

David added that there are increases in the use of new technologies, for example in the collection and analysis of data, which is also growing and is an area which students should look to understand and develop new skills in.

Want to learn more? You can find event recordings and resources from previous Themed Weeks on our website.

Have you thought about targeting local SME businesses for your job search?

IrrumAli15 July 2014

So, you’ve decided the big corporate world is not for you.  You would much rather work for a smaller company – an SME, where you can make your mark, take on responsibility, get to understand the whole business not just a fraction of it, and potentially rise to the top.

The next stage is to work out what SMEs are out there and how to target them?

 One way might be to think about what is on your doorstep.  Students based in London have a plethora of businesses to target and the majority of them are SMEs.  According to the Federation of Small Businesses and Department for Business, Innovation & Skills there were 841,000 private sector businesses in London in 2013.

From data that we collect through the Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey we can see that during the last 5 years after graduation 827 UCL students had graduate level roles in SMEs across London with 294 UCL students in businesses based near UCL in the WC1 area.Careers Fair

In just one year (2012/13) 395 UCL graduates had graduate level positions in SMEs throughout London six months after they graduated.  Of those students 35 were based just near UCL.

By targeting local businesses to UCL you can build up a relationship with an employer while you are still a student.  The employer is likely to know UCL, might be extra keen to engage with UCL students and could be willing to offer you the opportunity you have been looking for.

Once you have your target list of SMEs you will need to contact them to see what opportunities they might be willing to offer – you could ask if they have a summer internship scheme or you may find it more fruitful to ask if they would be able to have a short informal chat with you about the work they do, or perhaps could they offer work shadowing for a day or two.   As they will be local they may be more willing to offer you something and the hope is that the initial thread can ultimately lead, perhaps via one or two more interactions, to something more robust.

To source opportunities with SMES register with our shortlisting service UCL Talent Bank.

For UCL students wanting more help with sourcing SMEs in relevant sectors and locations, and for general guidance on approaching businesses speculatively book an appointment with one of our Careers Consultants.