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UCL’s top tips for getting a Sustainability Job!

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8 February 2018

This week is Environmental Careers week! Sustainability is a realistic, varied, interesting and prosperous career path which has many routes in, and isn’t just for geographers! Find out for yourself by reading Green UCL's top tips for getting a job in the sustainability sector!

Why?

Because sustainability is a hot topic. Increasingly more employers, are looking for students with sustainability skills and literacy. And not just in environmentally focused jobs, but in engineering, retail, urban planning and many more! Organisations are now also seeking employees across their entire organisation to be sustainability literate, and not just in 'sustainability' roles.

Ben Stubbs, UCL Sustainability Manager (Construction & Waste)

Top Tips

  • Be enthusiastic! Demonstrate both professional and personal interest.
  • Include sustainability into your dissertation, contact us for inspiration and to research our sustainability projects!

Ben’s CV

  • MSC in Environmental Technology- dissertation on Sustainable Construction
  • Atkins – design, engineering and project management consultancy
  • Specialised in sustainability strategy development and implementing and measuring sustainability initiatives – carbon, energy, water, materials, waste etc.
  • UCL

Ben is in charge of incorporating sustainability into UCL’s 1.2bln construction program, Transforming UCL. UCL’s New Student Centre will be one of the UK’s most sustainable buildings once it’s completed and will have a 35% reduction in carbon emissions compared to Building Regulations requirements. Find out more.

Joanna Marshall-Cook, UCL Senior Sustainability Manager

jo

Top tips

  • Get experience before starting, e.g. voluntary work in the Sector
  • Make your course relevant to the environment, perhaps through your dissertation. You could do your dissertation in conjunction with a charity, e.g. BioRegional or with UCL through our Living Lab programme.
  • Intern in an area that you like or find a job doing something quite basic in the sector
  • Set-up your own project, nothing looks better on a C.V. than someone who’s taken the initiative to start something, however small.
  • Think about what type of skills you like using and are good at – for example negotiating, writing, designing or numbers and make sure whatever job you target it uses those skills.

Jo’s CV

  • Biochemistry Degree
  • Volunteered with People and Planet at University
  • Door knocking in North London to encourage people to recycle
  • Not for profit consultancy providing advice to Developers, Architects and Planners about making new homes more sustainable. 
  • Secondment working with a local council to help them assess planning applications
  • BioRegional (an entrepreneurial sustainability charity). Turned a South London suburb into a zero carbon hub 

Joanna is overseeing UCL’s transition to a low carbon institution; engaging the UCL community to self-deliver sustainability, embedding carbon reductions into the Estates Transformation programme, and integrating circular economy principles throughout the organisation.

Martin Farley, UCL Sustainable Labs Advisor

Martin's picture

Top tips

  • Sometimes the role that’s needed doesn’t exist yet – Don’t be afraid of approaching institutions and businesses with your ideas of how you can assist them become more sustainable.
  • Always consider the needs of everyone and align. Not everyone will prioritise the environment, and thus it’s crucial to consider the requirements of others to achieve your own goals.

Martin’s CV

  • Technician/researcher- where I realised labs were unsustainable
  • Contacted University of Edinburgh and created the first UK Lab Sustainability post.
  • Initiated a sustainable labs programme at Kings Collge London
  • UCL

Martin is growing UCL’s Green Impact Labs program to help departments make their labs more sustainable. In his spare time he consults with other organisations on how to achieve similar results. He’s also creating a tool to compare UK laboratories against sustainability criteria.

Hannah Biggs, UCL Sustainability Stakeholder and Engagement Coordinator

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Top tips

  • Join a sustainability-related society. There are loads of societies including the Green Economy Society, UCell, Bentham’s Farm, UCL Conservation Society and many more!
  • Volunteer as a Green Champion in your department. By following the Green Impact Workbook you can act as a consultant and make your institution greener.
  • Volunteer as a SEAL (Sustainability Engagement Action Leader) and make your halls more environmental.
  • Follow Green UCL, we offer paid sustainability internships most years.
  • Use our campus as a test bed for your ideas and research, we’ve had students design all sorts of cool sustainable technologies, we can help you bring them to life on our campus. If you want to research sustainability for your dissertation get in touch as well!
  • Attend UCL'S Global Citizenship programme!

Hannah’s CV

  • Human Geography Degree, volunteered as a Green Champion.
  • Internship in my University’s sustainability department.
  • University of Essex, Sustainability Project Assistant
  • Volunteer Sustainability Manager at Brainchild Festival in spare time
  • UCL

Hannah's role is to engage staff and students in UCL’s sustainability initiatives, to increase pro-environmental behaviour among the UCL community and to reduce UCL's environmental impact. She leads the design and coordination of a range of sustainability events, competitions and fairs and oversees the development of Green Impact and Reduce the Juice.

Alex Jones, UCL Sustainable Procurement Officer

alex jones

Top tips

  • Do something you are passionate about; your passion will show off in applications and interviews, standing out from other applicants. My passion is cycling!
  • Think about the type of role that suits you best; Sustainability covers a range of organisational functions; from engagement and communication to analysing data and report writing. What are you good at?
  • Don’t be afraid; Sustainability roles often require the right personality, not necessarily the right experience. This is particularly true for some niche roles. So even if you think you are not qualified for a role, it doesn't mean you shouldn’t apply!

Alex’s CV

  • Human Geography Degree
  • Sustrans, promoted cycling in Greenwich.
  • Graduate Job, Project manager delivering a cycling infrastructure and engagement programme for Kingston Council.
  • Camden Council, engaged residents in recycling
  • UCL

Alex leads on Sustainable Procurement, ensuring the University is buying responsibly.
This year he will be developing an innovative supplier engagement tool. This will allow UCL to see what our suppliers are doing against a range of sustainability criteria and help them become sustainable. It has already been used to commutate UCL’s updated Modern day Slavery Statement. The challenge will be getting all of UCL’s suppliers onto the tool! We have a lot!

Richard Jackson, UCL Sustainability Director

Richard Jackson

Top tips

  • Explore opportunities to widen your knowledge and experiences e.g. UCL’s Global Citizenship programme
  • Undertake some volunteering: work with groups to widen your practical experience
  • Develop contacts and networks: explore opportunities to join industry bodies; NGOs etc. as a way of widening your network e.g. TheCrowd
  • Check out environmental jobs online: LinkedIn; Guardian; Change Agents, etc.

Richard’s CV

  • Volunteered with the National Trust in Cumbria
  • Worked with Friends of Earth in Japan
  • Management consultancy experience in London
  • Climate Change Policy Manager for CBI - supporting development of UK emissions trading
  • Led sustainability team on the London 2012 Olympic Design and Construction project
  • UCL

Alex Perry, UCL Senior Communications Manager in Estates

Top tips

  • Search out internships and learning opportunities; write to companies
  • Keep in mind crossover- potential; bring Sustainability in to the other things you’re doing / take opportunity to do what you do sustainably
  • Keep at it – your passion and tenacity will come through eventually!

Alex’s CV

  • Many years working on communicating access and inclusion in the built environment – linking inclusion into sustainability of buildings at UCL
  • Have come to sustainability from my own interest but always volunteered on urban conservation projects through TCV (formerly BTCV)
  • Broad communications and engagement experience – very applicable skillset – excited to be applying my communications expertise to Green UCL
  • Will be applying access/inclusion background to UCL Estate in my role here – also communication other inclusive issues gender neutral toilets, accessible toilets, quiet rooms

Alex is communicating sustainability in the Transforming UCL programme- especially the new student centre (opens 2019) which has many sustainable features and is hoped will achieve BREEAM outstanding.