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Sustainability Fortnight: Careers in Conservation, Ecology & Wildlife

UCLCareers15 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.

Sustainability Fortnight: Careers in Energy

UCLCareers15 March 2019

Careers in Energy Panellists

The 18th February saw Sustainability Fortnight kick off with a panel event exploring careers in the energy sector. 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.

Networking

Every single member of the panel cited the importance of networking, and several mentioned the connections they built by attending events such as this one. University career events bring professionals straight to your doorstep and make it easier than ever to engage with people in the industry. You can always reach out to them for a coffee or a phone call in the future, as many of them are happy to help and to give their advice. And don’t forget LinkedIn! Sara from XCO2, who also lectures at the University of Suffolk, reminded everyone to make sure your profile is up to date and filled out, and to use it to make connections with new contacts, as well as keeping up with old one. She estimated that 75% of her job roles came from ex-colleagues and references, so make sure you keep contact open with your professors and colleagues as you move between organisations. Charlotte, from the Renewables Consulting Group, added how useful your university’s alumni network can be. You can join UCL alumni network and find access to thousands of past students, many of whom are now offering mentorship opportunities.

Keep your goals in mind

“Follow your values”, recommended Ben, from Azuri Technologies. “Create your own mental checklist of what you want and stick to it when you’re job hunting. Keep a shortlist of the companies you’re interested in rather than jobs”. He went on to urge the importance of focusing matching your values to the organisations you’re applying to, and suggested signing up to their job feeds or newsletters, as well as attending their events.  Fiona suggested starting with research into how many types of companies there are in the energy sector, and to look at the Energy Institute and similar organisations – they often have student groups and networking events.

Sara pointed out that “Your first job might not be the one you want, but keep your ideas guiding you. Learn from each role.” She and Fiona both emphasised the importance of keeping an open mind, both about the type of company and the type of role you might be interested in. All of the panellists encouraged the benefits of “portfolio careers” and experimenting – particularly in a field as dynamic and changing as the energy sector.

Focus on your own development

“Soft skills are important”, Charlotte advised – practice your public speaking and writing skills.

Ben offered some pointers on the importance of feedback – “Feedback is golden. Ask your peers for feedback when working on group projects. Don’t take it to heart but try and develop from it.”

As always, don’t forget to tailor your cover letters! Jean-Paul, from Zenobe Energy, acknowledged that having to write them can of course be horrible – so don’t waste your efforts, and make sure they are tailored to the job and the skills.

Stay resilient

“Don’t be let down by rejection”, advised Jean-Paul. He also encouraged students to continue to go to events and to keep talking to people – you never know what will lead to an opportunity. Fiona echoed this: “Don’t take rejection personally, sometimes it’s just about timing.” Sometimes re-applying to an organisation later on might yield a very different outcome.

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

Sustainability Fortnight: Careers in Construction

UCLCareers15 March 2019

Careers in Construction Panellists

The 26th of February saw our panel discussion for Sustainability Fortnight exploring careers in the Construction sector. Our panellists were:

  • Julia Barrett, Director of Sustainability at Wilmot Dixon
  • Ali Ashpitel, Assistant Sustainability Manager at Mace
  • Jon Foster, Associate Technical Specialist at Atkins
  • Anastasios Skitzis, Sustainability Manager: Construction at Lendlease
  • Nerissa Webb, Environment and Sustainability Manager at Balfour Beatty

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 shared their wealth of experience and had plenty of advice for current students about what you can do now to get your career on track.

Values

Julia spoke of the importance of knowing your values as this is crucial to researching what type of company you may decide to work for and their values. Julia then spoke of great work opportunities for young and old at Wilmot Dixon. Knowing your values and what you believe in is a good first step. Jon agreed with this and suggested that students spend time researching various types of companies to see which ones fit best. Make use of all possibilities and any connections that you may have. Anastasios added that it is important to be honest and care about what you are doing as this will come across in any interview.

Julia loves working within the community and likes the thought of leaving legacy. Businesses may compete, but companies work together as they believe in sustainability. This sector attracts people who want to do the right thing. Julia is an advocate of change and informed students that 95% of decisions are made automatically and this provides a big challenge when trying to implement sustainability.

Learn soft skills, show you have other skills as well

Julia spoke about being resilient and discussed the fact that students may have knock backs when going through the interview process. Growing soft skills such communication and adding experience through volunteering will help. Knowing yourself and your passion will make you stand out. Ali strongly recommended making use of your time outside studying by researching what types of companies that you may want to work for and networking at events and or social media such as LinkedIn.

Ali reported that her job as assistant sustainability manager for MACE has been very varied and interesting. Making sure that students have or work on good communication skills is key as client management is a transferable skill that many students may find themselves needing.

Nerissa spoke about her job being very rewarding and challenging. Working with clients the communication can be challenging but that it is very rewarding seeing the finished product.

Opportunities

Julia spoke about the field of construction are struggling to recruit at this time, suggested that students visit the website and do some research to see if Wilmot Dixon is of interest.

Julia also suggested Future Build. This is a big conference running for three days at Excel in London. There are free workshops, product management and sustainability. A good opportunity to do some research.

Jon spoke about the need to seize all opportunities presented, you never know what opportunities may present themselves.

The panel agreed that networking using social media such as LinkedIn has opened up many doors for students, many opportunities.

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

Sustainability in the Built Environment

Chloe JAckroyd20 February 2019

Sara Godinho Senior Consultant at XCO2 and Lecturer at University of Suffolk

(*Spoiler alert: my career path has been a bumpy one, filled with trial and error. I don’t regret a single thing as every experience was valuable but hasn’t definitely been a straight line!)

I decided to study Architecture (MArch University of Lisbon) as I was told by a high school career advisor that it would be the best way to combine my creative and artistic side with my analytical thinking. It wasn’t really! While I liked studying Architecture it never really fulfilled me. During my studies, I had a module on Environmental Design that caught my attention. It sparked curiosity and interest in sustainability and environmental design that hasn’t fade.

After graduating and working for a couple of years in my home town Lisbon, I decided to move to London. I was always very oriented to international experiences, I did Erasmus in Norway, studied in Japan for a year, so it was only a matter of time before going abroad again. I was also increasingly frustrated as an architect only focusing on design and ignoring the environmental impact. I really wanted to make a difference and work on making buildings more environmentally friendly. London was an easy choice because after living in Japan, I understood how European I am. I also had a good English level and the UCL MSc Environmental Design and Engineering programme seemed really good. Coming to the UK was a breath of fresh air! The master was a lot of hard work but one of the best years of my life. I learned a lot, made great friends, and had a real “this is it” epiphany as this was the area I wanted to be working on!

I decided to stay after graduation but had a tough time getting a job, it took me about six months and a lot of rejection. I was trying to enter this new sector and was also a foreigner. I got interviews and having UK education helped but everybody kept seeing me as an architect with no UK work experience. I decided to change my strategy and got a job in an architecture practice. It was small and specialised in Passivhaus and was a great learning experience. I got to work on site delivering one of the most demanding energy certifications in the world on a project that has now received a CIBSE Building Performance Award! At the time, the practice had also some research funding so I was lucky to work on Post Occupancy Evaluation of Passivhaus buildings and study their actual performance. It also confirmed that I was less interested in the design and more on the performance so, a couple of years in, I decided to try to move into environmental consultancy. Having now UK work experience made change easier and I finally made it into consultancy work. Funnily for my current job at XCO2 my architectural background was valuable to them as we work with a lot of architects and, being trained in their language, is helpful.

At XCO2, my role is to lead on the energy and sustainability strategies for a project, being a masterplan, new built or refurbishment. My work focuses on reducing the environmental impact of the construction industry, improving buildings’ energy efficiency and performance while promoting occupant wellbeing. Buildings are such complex and beautiful constructions and we spend most of our time inside one so it’s really gratifying when my advice contributes to improving a building’s energy performance or occupant comfort.

Teaching came by serendipity into my life two years ago. Through connections, I saw that the University of Suffolk was looking for a Lecturer in Technology. I applied and got selected and immediately panicked! Would I be able to do it? Instead, I absolutely loved it from day one and teaching has been incredibly transformative for my career. Being able to digest all my knowledge and experience into teaching has made realise how passionate I am about sustainability in the built environment and how much it matters to me to pass on the concepts and the skills and influence future architects. I don’t see sustainability in the built environment as an add-on but as an absolutely fundamental aspect of design. I want my students (and everybody!) to know of the impact buildings have in the environment and in our wellbeing and give them tools to thinks and create better ways of designing.

Although balancing two jobs can be demanding with conflicting needs at times, they absolutely complement each other. My industry experience means I can bring very practical knowledge to my students and teaching requires me to translate difficult concepts into comprehensible principles. It keeps me very aware of the bigger picture and my focus on improving sustainability in the built environment.

 

 

 

Insights into Consultancy for Sustainability

Chloe JAckroyd20 February 2019

Tim Curtis profile

Tim Curtis Managing Director at Ricardo Energy & Environment

What does consultancy work involve?

Like many things in life, the answer is “it depends”!  …on the company you work for, the sector you work in and the specific clients you are engaged by.

From my experience, there are some common themes in the working life of an environmental consultant:

  • Resilience is key. People in consultancy businesses work under continuous pressure. There is the pressure to deliver excellent work for a customer to time and budget.  They also need to win the next piece of work and respond to the demands of working in and across teams.  So, consultancy work is tough, but it can be tremendously rewarding.
  • Communication skills are critical. Even at the most junior level, you will be in a project team, likely to be talking to clients and will get exposure to senior management, so the ability to articulate what you are doing in an engaging and compelling way is key.
  • Contribution to the Team is paramount – that might be a small project team, a business area or the company as a whole. Work is very fluid in consultancies, and people are expected to get involved when there is a need and where they can add something.
  • Variety is energising – if you have an enquiring mind and like doing new things regularly, then consultancy can be really exciting. Projects tend to be from a couple of weeks to 6 months so you will be moving swiftly from one project to another.  And, you will often need to juggle multiple projects.
  • Environment as a topic is inspiring. People love working for an environmental consultancy because they know they are making a difference.  A couple of examples:
    • We recently completed a knowledge transfer energy project in Bangladesh. As a result, the power sector leaders and experts will be able to maximise access to electricity for the 165 million people in Bangladesh.
    • We looked at how to improve the management of surface water run-off treatment options for Southampton Airport (including a lot of chemicals used to de-ice planes). As a result, we have protected aquatic wildlife by preventing chemicals going into the local river.

What sectors does your company provide consultancy for? Can you give some examples of the issues and projects that a sustainability consultancy tackles?

At Ricardo, we work across most of the environmental areas: climate change, energy, waste, scarce resources, water, air quality, sustainable transport, agriculture, biodiversity, environmental impact, chemicals.

Our clients are many and various – national and local governments, major corporations and heavy industry, transportation providers, infrastructure and utility companies, international agencies and funders (eg the World Bank). But also smaller companies and not-for-profits.

The work of environmental consultancies is best illustrated by some examples of our projects:

  1. Combining smart grids and electric vehicles in Brighton, UK
    This project entailed creation of a charge-point roll-out strategy for EV charging infrastructure in Brighton.  A critical element was use of smart grid technology to unlock spare capacity for increased numbers of electric vehicles (automated transfer of electricity to areas of high demand).  Through this we were able to maximise the power available from existing infrastructure, hence avoiding costly network reinforcement or substation replacement.
  1. Supporting a State Government in Australia to assess the implications of transitioning to a Circular Economy (CE)
    This project looked at the implications of transition to a Circular Economy (designing waste out of the economy) across eight key sectors, identifying global trends and potential local action. This brought together key experts from the fields of waste, water, sustainable transport, energy efficiency, resource use and advanced manufacturing. The project provided global insight into actions and best practice activities from across the key sectors, identifying potential implications, barriers and enablers of a circular economy.
  1. Integrated environment programme for Liaoning Environmental Protection Board (China)
    The aim of this project was to tackle the interrelated issues of pollution abatement, economic modernisation and social redeployment within Liaoning Province.  Ricardo led the Air Quality Management component of the project that:
  • Established comprehensive emission inventories at city and provincial level
  • Delivered training and capacity strengthening
  • Developed effective ambient and source (of pollution) measurement programmes, dispersion modelling and GIS based environmental information systems
  • Developed economic models for the cost-benefit analysis and design of optimal emission control and mitigation strategies

What range of skills  and what academic subjects does your company look for when hiring for consultancy roles?

The kinds of skills we need are quite varied:

Environmental policy analysis Economic evaluation
Modelling /monitoring (eg air and water) Technology development (eg software products and tools)
Evaluation of technology performance Data management (eg inventories)
Engineering (mechanical / electrical / chemical) Digital resilience for critical infrastructure
Pollution incident management Digital services (IT development)
Life Cycle Assessment Finance
Health Impact Assessment Marketing

So, we have some very specialist and deep technical skill requirements, some more broad research and investigation skills, + more generic areas like economics, IT, finance and marketing.

Therefore, the range of academic subjects we recruit from is wide, and role dependent.  Most people we take on will be at Masters level, and many will have a scientific or engineering background, but not all.

What are the challenges for the environmental sector in future, and what impact will they have on consultancy work?

That is a huge question!  I am going to cheat by providing a link to an excellent slideshow that you can look at, recently produced by the World Resources Institute.

The key issues identified in the slideshow can be summarised as:

  • Tumultuous times: will geopolitics limit climate action?
  • Bracing for impacts: will climate adaptation rise up the agenda?
  • Sustainable apparel: will fast fashion slow down?
  • Deforestation: will commodity supply chains rise to the challenge?
  • Project of the century: will Belt & Road advance green growth?
  • Micro-mobility: a fad or the future?
  • US Climate action: turning the tide on Trump?

So, these are major global themes……what might they mean for international environmental consultancy opportunities:

  • Global emissions are rising……1.5 degrees temperature rise is not far away…..might be more about adapting to than mitigating climate change in the future?
  • Focus on cities/states as clients (and key actors)……when historically it may have been national governments.
  • Need for more attention on water management (eg enormous water footprint of fashion industry – 2,700 litres for one shirt).
  • China’s “Belt and Road” initiative is huge – opportunities for consultancy (and risks to environment)?
  • Biodiversity expertise needed in response to deforestation.
  • Changes to urban mobility strategies and plans in response to behaviour change.
  • Need for “blended” solutions of public and private finance across all areas.

This agenda appears to provide an enormous range of potential opportunities…….and it does.  However, there is a but………as a consultant, you can only do the work that clients want to engage you for, and global risks can take time to feed into consultancy projects.

In environmental consultancy, the topics are fascinating, challenging, enlightening and rewarding, but you need someone who has a budget to engage you to do the work.  So “thought leadership” in helping the wider world to appreciate the issues and the opportunities is key to open the conversations with potential clients. The ideal approach is to seed ideas, get their interest and then offer a solution……that is the art of being a great consultant.

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Sustainability Fortnight: What you can expect

UCLCareers8 February 2019

Sustainability is a big deal. It’s one of the most pressing challenges we face today and many of us want to get involved through impactful careers.

The UCL Careers Sustainability Fortnight is designed to give you insights into the roles, rewards and routes into this rapidly developing sector. Here can you develop you understanding of the business issues and global challenges of the sustainability sector, preparing you for career in the field.

Interested in tackling sustainability in NGOs, businesses and governments?

Employers look for graduates who can:

  • Analyse real-world situations critically
  • Understand international issues in a global world
  • Demonstrate ethical leadership
  • Work within different social contexts
  • Engage with a diverse range of people
  • Use resources and budgets wisely

If you have the skills needed to tackle global challenges, you will be well placed to find employment across the sector. Employers are looking for sustainability conscious employees  across the entire organisation – not just in ‘sustainability’ roles. Whether that’s understanding climate risks in an investment portfolio or Modern Day Slavery issues within recruitment roles.

What’s on:

  • Panel talks and lectures from sustainability experts and professionals
  • Q&A sessions so you can have your questions answered
  • Bike sale and maintenance events
  • UCL Sustainability tours
  • Hot-topic discussions
  • Business forums

What you will learn:

  • How do organisations define sustainability
  • Inform yourself with the chance to challenge business representatives at panel and networking events
  • What Corporate Social Responsibility really means
  • How to be an Environmental Auditor
  • What skills you need to be competitive in the sustainability job market
  • The future trends for the energy or construction markets
  • How different sectors are moving towards a sustainable future

Sustainability is a realistic, interesting and prosperous career path with has many routes in. With a broad range of roles available, there will be something to suit anyone with an interest in the sector.

Find out for yourself at one of our events!

  See what’s on and book your place today!

 

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

Top 5 Green jobs sites: How to find a role in the environment/sustainability sector

Weronika ZBenning4 February 2016

Looking for a career that benefits the planet? With sustainability top on the agenda right now for every kind of organisation – from national governments to global corporations – there are more and more opportunities to find a career that aligns with your values.

The Green Economy has hit £122bn, according to The Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) and, in 2013 employed more than a million people. And that’s just for specialist companies that make up what the government has called the Low Carbon and Environmental Goods and Services industry, and so doesn’t appear to account for the many opportunities to work in sustainability roles in charities, NGOs or companies that are trying to reduce their carbon footprint.

So where can you find these ‘green jobs’? Well, as well as attending UCL’s Environment and Sustainability Week, which starts on the 8th February and gives you the chance to meet professionals from a whole range of organisations, from Carbon Plan to the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC), you might want to check out these job sites and recruitment agencies:

The University of London’s Jobonline also has lots of environmental type roles that are aimed at students and graduates, in it’s ‘Natural resources and Environment’ sector. To keep updated, sign up for UCLAlert!

Here are some of the current roles:

UCL Careers’s Environment & Sustainability Themed Week takes place from February 8th – 11th.

Careers in Energy & Sustainable Resource Forum round ups

ManpreetDhesi25 February 2015

Did you miss the UCL Institute for Sustainability and the UCL Energy Institutes Careers forums during our Environment week? Fear not, Laura Firmin from UCL Careers has written a round up for you:

Institute for Sustainability Careers in Energy Networking Event

A wide variety of speakers from sustainable energy consultancies and SMEs working within the sustainable planning and architecture arena each invited the audience to look back with them through their career journey that has led them to where they work now.

Some top career tips from this event:

  1. Use an analytical mind-set to break apart your current or previous work experience to decide exactly what it is you did/ didn’t like about that role. Was it the working hours? The people you worked with? Were you using your strengths? The manner in which your efforts were recognised? Use these insights to assess the suitability of the job you’re applying to.
  2. Weigh up your interest in the sector with what the job is actually asking you to do day-to-day.
  3. If you’re a researcher, or doing a PhD, start building your network by proactively approaching companies who may be interested in your research and offer to present what you are working on to them. Many companies run lunchtime lectures in which you could do this and you can achieve many outcomes at once:
    1. You get to practice your presentation skills in preparation for your poster talk/ VIVA
    2. You are effectively promoting yourself, the university and your work to interested employers in the area
    3. If you are feeling stuck in a rut – having to put something coherent together and getting out of the office may spark new insights.

This networking event brought together many London businesses working towards a sustainable future – especially around the built environment. This is a pressing issue for London and environmental jobs are not just out in the countryside; for those of you who want to continue saving the planet whilst living in this city – there are plenty of opportunities locally which could fulfil both these desires.

Careers in Sustainable Resources Thursday 12th February 2015

A great introduction by professor Paul Ekins created a focused atmosphere with an injection of humour and warmth.

Top tips to come from the night’s speakers were as follows:

  1. Nick Lakin, Group Head of Government Affairs at Kingfisher suggested that many graduates entering the sustainability sector are likely to have big ideas for the future of their world. His advice is to balance ideas with practicality. Change is not always easy as holding a belief in a particular approach – so be pragmatic and be ready to adjust your idea so that you can collaborate with others.
  2. Joshua Davies, Graduate Sustainability Consultant at URS-AECOM reminded the audience of the importance of gaining varied work experience. If you are looking to get into consulting – your variety of work experience and expertise will enable you to work on lots of different client projects. Stay proactive to avoid limiting your knowledge bank.

Many multi-national companies run consult on environmental and sustainability issues and have whole departments dedicated to the sector. However, even if you are hired to work in that department, you may also be required to work in other areas of the business where need occurs. So, be open-minded and consider whether your green values are matched throughout the business.

Environment week 2015 round up

ManpreetDhesi20 February 2015

This post looks at the events organised by UCL Careers during our Environment Careers Themed Week. If you didn’t manage to attend these sessions, we’ve captured some of the key points we took away to report to you. Our previous blog post also features some tips for getting into the environment and sustainability sector from the UCL Institute of Sustainability.

The Effective Networking workshop – or ‘Connecting with people who want to talk to you’.

Right from the first icebreaker, the UCL Careers seminar room was humming with energy and chatter as students threw themselves into task of mandatory mingling. Asked to discuss the benefits and potential barriers to networking, it was clear that while everyone agreed that it was a good way to make inroads into a sector such as the Environment, the idea makes most people weak at the knees.

Imagining rocking up to a formal networking event, clasping a handful of business cards in sweaty hands, and having to deliver a perfect elevator pitch to a room full of disinterested senior people who have far more important things to do than talk to you, it’s not surprising most people shy away from networking.

Despite these fears there are many reasons someone at a networking event might want to meet you (finding talent or just getting a chance to talk about themselves for example) – it’s all about asking simple, open questions about their work lives that get them talking.

The message from this workshop, delivered by Dave Carter of UCL Careers, was that networking doesn’t have to be daunting. Given the number of people who hung around after this workshop chatting, it seems networking can even be fun!

The Writing a CV for the environment sector workshop

“If you want to catch a fish, you have to think like a fish”.

This was the ethos behind the workshop, which gave students an opportunity to see through the eyes of a recruiter when scanning and scoring CVs for a researcher role in the environment sector.

Under tight time-restraints and with a pile of CVs to sift through, it was very quickly clear what makes a CV stand out, or fall out for a recruiter’s pile:

Tricks such as using plenty of bullet points, highlighting key skills from the person specification and putting the important information at the top were a winner; while long, wordy paragraphs and irregular formatting were very much considered turn-offs when you had a lot to sift through.

Finally, it is important to tailor your CV to every job application. Unfortunately, no CV is one-size-fits all!

The Sustainability Leadership workshop

Participants at this revolutionary session were thrown straight into the deep end when their first task in groups was to share their burdens and take them out of their metaphorical rucksacks. This involved each participant listening to their peers in turn with respect and patience. Greta Rossi, co-founder of Ākāśa Innovation took our potential future leaders in sustainability on a journey, introducing tools to help them harness their leadership ability. By the end of the session, each group of students had connected with each other in a meaningful way.

The Case Study: The London Olympics – The Green Games

Richard Jackson, Head of Sustainability at UCL shared his tips for ensuring that sustainable initiatives run throughout an enormous event such as the London 2012 Olympic Games.

  1. Have clear strategic objectives: these must be in place right at the beginning and you must stick to them – even if plan A does not work – you must ignite plan B in order to meet those green objectives. If a material does not function as planned – can you produce one that does? When your site is audited – you will need to be able to say that you have delivered your objectives.
  2. Get your people energised and inspired about the initiative. A prize as simple to produce as a pin badge for excellent engagement really encourages participation – especially if you have only produced a limited number!
  3. Know your supply chain – every step of the way – be credible
  4. An international event such as the Olympic Games is not the place to TEST innovative energy-saving ideas. Can you factor these tests into a trial part of the site beforehand?

To find our more information about Sustainability Careers, head on over to Careers Tagged.