Welcoming Jess to the team!

Hi everyone! My name is Jess, I’m a student here at Kent studying Environmental Social Science, and I have just begun my work placement year with the University Sustainability Team, as Sustainability Projects Officer. I have always loved nature, and been passionate about conservation and sustainability, so I knew this role was a perfect opportunity for me. I admire the team’s hard work and all they have achieved and can’t wait to get involved and contribute my ideas. Through my placement I hope to gain valuable experience of environmental sector work, and the challenges and rewards this can present. I’m excited to practice skills I have learnt throughout my degree so far, and to be able to develop my abilities in other areas, for example biodiversity monitoring and surveying wildlife on campus.  

Reflecting on my first week in the role, I honestly feel so welcomed, and already feel that I am helping to make a difference by engaging other students with the various environmental initiatives and projects currently taking place at Kent, such as the creation of a Diamond Jubilee Orchard- where 300 fruit trees will be planted to celebrate 60 years of the university and the class of 2025. After a couple of days of training and settling in, I attended the Welcome Fair with the team, where we had stalls promoting the orchard and introducing new students to the Kent Community Oasis Garden (KentCOG)- explaining the work we do, opportunities for volunteering, and helping them plant herb seeds to take home, encouraging a passion for gardening and homegrown produce. We also had a guess the weight of the pumpkin competition– harder than it looks! 

Going forward this term, I expect to be spending lots of time at KentCOG volunteering and coordinating other volunteers, as well as organising events and helping to run social media accounts and campaigns for the team- something I really enjoy. I’m so passionate about raising awareness of issues such as the climate crisis and biodiversity loss and the actions that need to be taken, but I am also very mindful of the negative effects of eco-anxiety. I feel that projects like KentCOG can be so beneficial in helping to alleviate that stress, by allowing people to regain a sense of connection with nature and work together as a community to make a positive impact. 

As well as helping with events, social media and KentCOG, I hope to use my year to liaise with various student societies within the sustainability network, with the hopes of helping each other with shared goals and working together to make the biggest impact that we can. I aim to work with the SAC Sustainability Working Group to support their initiatives for wellbeing, greenspaces, food and curriculum, and also engage with and recruit more staff sustainability champions, as they are vital in implementing any organisation-wide change.  

So, I have lots of goals for this year! But a little bit about me- I absolutely love animals of every kind, being outside in nature, spending time with friends and family, travelling, cooking veggie and vegan food, and art. I also love chatting to people, and especially about anything environment or sustainability related, so please reach out if you want to talk about anything or suggest any ideas that I could help to implement this year! Email me at sustainability@kent.ac.uk. 

A career in Sustainability

Guest post

According to the Office of National Statistics, over 220,000 people were employed in in low carbon and renewable energy jobs in 2018 and this is expected to continue to grow over the next decade as we transition to a net zero economy. David Brown, Technical Director at Energy and Carbon Consultancy Longevity Zero gives some advice for those looking of you that may be looking for jobs in energy and sustainability in the future….

As a graduate (longer ago then I care to imagine), I know how hard it can be to figure out what to do as a career. If you are reading this blog, I am assuming you are interested in a career in environmental protection or sustainability. So that’s a great start.

It’s a great time to be considering this field – it may not feel like it with the impact of Covid-19 and the economic situation. But even now I see many clients looking to adjust to a low carbon economy. The UK also has ambitious targets (granted not as tough as they need to be).

Here is my advice for those of you thinking of a career in energy or sustainability. My advice comes from hiring experienced professionals and recent graduates.

  1. Jobs for everyone

Jobs in energy and sustainability require a range of skills from financial, data analysis, graphics, marketing and communications. It’s true we need engineers for energy efficiency and renewable technologies but there are roles for everyone. Don’t ever think you haven’t the right skills. Soft skills are hugely important especially communication of plans, results or instructions. I’ve known some brilliant engineers who have really undervalued this. Whether you are  graphic designer, data engineer, a marketeer or a mechanical engineer there are roles for everyone.

  1. Passionate counts, a lot!

Sometimes people think (wrongly) they have they wrong skills. When hiring someone or in meeting, enthusiasm accounts for so much. Energy (no pun intended) excites people and engages them. This is hugely important in an area as emotive of sustainability. Bring your passion to the table and it will count for so much.

  1. Network

This is really underutilised by so many people. The number of times people have said to me “I don’t like networking” is pretty much every time I directly talk about networking. Of course, networking is partially about talking to strangers at events or Meet Ups, but it’s so much more. It’s connecting with people on LinkedIn, Twitter (you can follow me here) and even Instagram. It’s even writing on a student blog :-).

  1. Be prepared to always learn

What did you do in lockdown? Binge on Netflix or do a micro-course to learn a new skill? There are so many energy and sustainability courses online that with a bit of time and dedication you can acquire new skills to position yourself as a highly competent individual. In a highly competitive and changing world this is hugely important. Your education doesn’t finish with your degree it continues for as long as you want to stay employed or running your own business.

  1. Showcase yourself

Write blog posts, take pictures, post on LinkedIn, volunteer. Do whatever it is that is relevant to what you want to do. The internet allows you to become recognised as competent in your chosen industry or profession. Don’t forget that.

  1. Find a mentor.

I have thrived from finding competent people I respect and learn from over the years. There are many wise (and not so wise) people willing to share their advice. Seek them out. Even experienced professionals need mentors.

  1. Don’t forget to have fun.

I expect to be working into my 70’s. It may even be longer for you. That isn’t meant to depress you. Make sure you enjoy what you do. If you enjoy work then your life is likely to be much richer in both senses of the word.

If you have any questions then get in touch. We’d happily give you some career pointers!

Longevity Zero amongst other things help businesses buy green energy and reduce their energy usage – find out more at our energy consulting page.