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UCL’s top tips for getting a Sustainability Job!

15 February 2021

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

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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

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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

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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 Projects Lead

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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 Sustainability Ambassador and make UCL more environmental.
  • Follow Sustainable UCL, we offer paid sustainability internships for most years.
  • Use our campus as a testbed 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 leads UCL’s sustainability behavioural change programmes, campaigns and communication channels, whilst supporting the organisation’s commitment to increasing biodiverse space by 10,000m2, and to embed sustainability into the informal and formal curriculum.

Alex Jones, UCL Sustainable Procurement Officer

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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 works on managing and delivering UCL’s Environmental Management System, which includes identifying environmental impacts, supporting measures to minimise them, and engaging with departments to support the system. Alex also works closely with the central procurement team to ensure the goods and services that UCL purchases are responsible and have a low environmental impact.

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

Since taking up his position at UCL in 2011, Richard has been leading the development and implementation of UCL's environmental sustainability strategy. This has included the development and management of UCL's Sustainability Team and its work to embed sustainability throughout UCL: working with the UCL Estate team to incorporate sustainability standards and targets into their refurbishment and maintenance activities; to encourage the UCL community to contribute to the sustainability objectives; and to integrate sustainability into research and teaching.