This month we chat to Eilish, Alice and Olivia who are all in the early stages of their green career journeys. Hear their stories, tips and insights to inspire you on yours.

Eilish is currently on a gap year and working as a trial assistant at UCL Cancer Research Centre. She is going to study Biology at Oxford in October.

What are your 3 top tips for anyone who wants to pursue a green career?

I don’t know if I’m qualified to give tips since I’m not there myself yet! But this is what I would say:

1. Do what you love and what you are good at – they are usually the same thing – this will give you a reason to go to work and gives you the power you need to make an impact. If you truly love what you are doing- you will be a force for good. Then you can find a way to impact the planet positively with the career you have chosen.

2. Get experience. Education is important, but from what I have heard, experience is something that employers look for the most. The more experience you have, the more employable you are, and you are more likely to get that job you really want. I got experience working with the London Wildlife Trust through contacting them by email. Not everyone will reply but the more people you ask, the more likely it is someone will say yes!

3. Say yes to everything! This has been a rule of mine so far in my life! If you take up every opportunity then you will never regret anything. Obviously, there are times to say no, but when it comes to jobs, experience, things to bulk up your cv or that have a positive impact on the planet, you can never do enough!

green career

How did the Catalyse Change programme help you?

First of all, it showed me that there are so many other young women interested in sustainability and climate change, and that was really empowering. I also made valuable connections, learnt a lot about the different types of potential careers I could have, and made some new friends!
I’m also now getting involved in the redrafting of the Well-being for Future Generations Bill, which I’m very excited about!

How has your CC mentor helped you?

I love the mentor idea – it was one of the things that stood out to me when I first heard of the Catalyse Change programme. I have had zoom calls and met up for a socially distanced walk with my mentor. From the beginning, she was extremely helpful, friendly and knowledgeable. She gave me great advice on uni and life in general. She also offered to do a mock interview with me for Oxford and it really helped me feel prepared. I really enjoyed all of our meetings! She also would check up on me from time to time and it was really lovely that she remembered when my interviews were and wished me luck and then asked me how they went! She still messages me just to see how I’m doing now. I’m really grateful for all the help she gave me!

What would you say to a young woman considering joining our programme this year?

Definitely join! I have been involved in some great projects and met some amazing people this year that all stemmed from the programme I did in the summer last year.

dream green career

Alice is a Communications Officer for World Land Trust, a conservation charity that raises money to fund habitat protection in some of the world’s most threatened areas.

“My job is to tell the fantastic conservation stories from our partners to World Land Trust supporters via social media, email and web stories.”

What are the main qualifications & skills you need to do your job?

Writing experience and content creation were high-priority skills for this role – as well as a passion for protecting the environment. I did a Bachelor’s in Journalism and a Master’s in Environmental Communication which both helped boost my chances at getting this dream job.

What are your 3 top tips for any other young woman who wants to work in sustainability?
  • Try to decide which area you would like to work in and find people on LinkedIn who have your dream job and see how they progressed.
  • If you are just starting out or lack experience, make a blog or eco-conscious Instagram page to practice content creation and prove your dedication – also reach out to small environmental NGOs to see if you can help them.
  • Most importantly, believe in yourself! Don’t be hard on yourself if your current job is not in the sustainability sector just yet – you will get there.
How did Catalyse Change help you?

After my Bachelor’s I worked in a job that I hated and I desperately wanted to work in an environmental organisation – but I didn’t know where to start. I found Catalyse Change on and attended some of the workshops held by Traci which really helped me to fully understand what direction I wanted my career to go in and what actions I needed to get there. This inspired me to look at studying a Master’s and led me to complete a degree in Environmental Communication which really helped me land my dream job at World Land Trust.

Any other comments you want to share with a young woman who wants to make a difference?

If you are passionate about pursuing a green career – it will happen for you. Maybe not straight away, but if you work hard and reach out to people or attend programmes such as Catalyse Change, you will get there.

green career

Olivia is a Sustainable Waste Consultant for Resource Futures and a Black and Green Ambassador for the Bristol Green Capital Partnership.

As a Sustainable Waste Consultant, I design and undertake fieldwork in order to collect real data and numbers so that we can understand waste better. As a Black and Green Ambassador I have a monthly radio show with two of the other Ambassadors where we talk about environmental issues, actions and opportunities within Bristol. I am also working on a community development/action project looking at community solutions for clean air.

What degree did you do and where?

I studied Chemical Engineering at the University of Edinburgh. I was leaning towards science degrees and looking at options such as environmental chemistry. But I chose this degree because I wanted to make a tangible change within the field of sustainability, and if I changed my mind Engineering is still a great degree to have as it can lead down so many different paths.

This might not be an obvious choice for someone who wants to be in the green sector as a lot of graduates go into the Oil and Gas Industry, Pharmaceuticals, Food & Drink or Finance. Though sustainability is important to all of these, none are overtly green. So, that is my advice, look at the skills and what you will learn, and think how and where you can apply these – do not just look at the title and the most common graduate roles.

Engineering courses, along with many others, have accreditations which mean they are of a certain standards and should equip you with the relevant skills for a successful career in industry. So, look to see if this is relevant for you.

After that I chose my University because I loved the city. I lived there for 5 years, you need to like where you are going to be as University is a big and scary enough experience without living in a place you hate. I am from Reading, so it was also far enough away from home that my parents could not just drop in, but close enough that if I ever needed them, I could be there.

What are the main skills & qualifications you need?

I have a master’s degree in chemical engineering – this is not a prerequisite for either of my jobs, but I have shaped them both to suit my knowledge.

When looking at waste Chemical Engineering has helped me to understand both the manufacturing process, how the recycling process works, and the chemical makeup/properties of plastics.

My job is data focussed, so good analytical skills are a must.

Problem Solving/Innovative thinking is also important within the green space, a lot of the time you are trying to do things in a different or new way, or even for the first time. You are not always going to find the best or the right way, but you can find something better – that is good enough for now, and safe enough to try.

For both jobs’ communication skills are also key, and this is communication of all types. So much is about getting people to understand, and care and then act – and if you cannot talk to people that is really hard to do.

Finally, I would say passion, as part of a consultancy you are working on lots of different types of projects, so you are learning new things all the time, it is easier to do this if you care and if you are interested. It also means you are more likely to remember what you learn and then use it again in future.

What are your 3 top tips for any other young women who want to pursue a green career?

Your future job might not exist yet, so do not get hung up on the job title. Equip yourself with skills and knowledge around what you care and are passionate about, and do not be afraid of taking opportunities outside your comfort zone.

Sustainability and Green are in every part of life, so being able to work with different people and different teams, and take a multi-disciplinary approach is important, so get comfortable with that.

Don’t worry if your job isn’t a ‘green job’, nobody really knows what that means. Any job can be a green job, if you help to make the company or the people act more sustainably. So, if you have a part time job now while you are studying see what you can learn about their sustainability plans/responsibilities and try and make them better

Any other comments you want to share with a young woman considering joining our programme this year?

Do it! Having a network and support system is really important to be able to succeed. Learn from other people and broaden your knowledge base. Throughout my academic career I have always found I have learnt so much more, and the more valuable stuff outside of the classroom. Catalyse Change is this, so take the opportunity if you can. What do you have to lose?

If you would like to join our Green Career Course in May and June 2021 –

Our Catalyst Summit 2021 kicks off  with 3 days in July and followed by up to 6 months of mentoring, masterclasses & meet-ups

We have a free to provide you with more information about studying sustainability in higher education.