Josephine Billany shares with us her experience joining the Catalyse Change community and how it has shaped her career.

Like many other university freshers, I embarked upon my degree feeling anxious and excited in equal measure. I enrolled at Cardiff University to study Biological Science on the grounds that I had enjoyed the subject at school, liked the city of Cardiff and thought it was a good university. Although I had absolutely no idea what I would do with my degree once I had completed it. I, (somewhat naively) thought I would figure it out while I studied and leave knowing my exact career path.

At the start of my degree, geneticsJo Billany was what interested me most but then Blue Planet aired on Netflix, Greta Thunberg began to strike, the world was burning!

I had always been a bit of an eco-warrior, but I had never considered a career in environmentalism or sustainability.

By my second year of studying, I felt that I wanted to do my part to ‘save the planet’. I took a placement year to explore my career options and to dip my toes into the green job sphere. I landed a spot at Bristol Zoo in the conservation research department. It was an amazing experience, and I learned a lot about environmental and conservation issues, but I left knowing that a career in research was not the path for me. Back in Cardiff for my final year and I still felt lost, my peers began applying for PhDs and graduate schemes and I worried that I wasn’t doing anything. I focussed my energy on my exams and dissertation and pushed my anxieties about my future to the back of my mind.

A beacon of hope

Bristol zoo internshipProcrastinating from studying, I stumbled across an advert on Instagram for Catalyse Change’s My Green Career online course. It looked like the perfect thing to quench my career anxiety. Thank goodness for targeted ads!  In Catalyse Change I found a community of like-minded, interesting, passionate women in similar situations to me – knowing that they want to do something that makes an impact but not knowing what to do.

My Green Career course offered inspiration and insights. I particularly enjoyed hearing from different women who work in sustainability roles about their career paths. They all had been on unique journeys and many of them started out in very different fields to where they are now. I found it reassuring that there are so many different paths you can take and so many dynamic, varied roles out there. There really is something for everyone.

I finished the course feeling far less anxious. I still wasn’t sure exactly what sort of job title I was looking for, but through the sessions I had gained a better understanding of my strengths, what skills I wanted to use within a role and how to go about searching and applying for jobs. I had gained more confidence and wasn’t so worried about graduating without having a job lined up.

Mentoring changed my life

Green CareerAfter the My Green Career course, Catalyse Change then host their . It’s a few days in July in which you are paired with a mentor who will support you for 3-6 months. I sadly couldn’t make the summit, but I got very lucky and there were some unallocated mentors available. I jumped at this opportunity, and I am so grateful I did. I met my mentor about once a month, and we chatted for around an hour on Zoom.

During the 6 months of our mentoring, she helped me to quit my emotionally draining retail job, develop my CV and cover letter writing skills and connected me with an employer looking for a short term paid intern. I landed the internship and have just been offered a full-time permanent job at the company.

I owe this all to my mentor and to Catalyse Change. If you are open and willing to put in the effort, opportunities like this can completely change your life. I will be forever grateful to Catalyse Change for helping me achieve my goal of finding a career in sustainability and I am excited for my future.

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