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Kelly Forster

What type of employment interested you the most, and is your current employment what you were looking for?

Initially, I was interested in a role that allowed me to work on various sustainability projects. I wasn't too concerned about the industry or sector this was in, but just wanted to feel that I was making a positive difference in the work that I did. In my current role, I support the Leeds Sustainable Curriculum programme, as well as managing student and staff facing events, and part-time Student Sustainability Architects.

What does your role involve in your current place of employment?

My role involves working with academic staff and students to develop new and existing opportunities to embed sustainability into the curriculum. I manage the Student Sustainability Architects programme and coordinate the Sustainability Services’ input into inductions. I also organise the Annual Student Sustainability Research Conference and get involved with cross-cutting Service priorities.

What was the application process like?

The application form for the role itself was substantial, and this was followed by a short test and interview.

What did you do that made you stand out from the crowd? 

Prior to this role, I worked for the Sustainability Services team as PA and Project Assistant to the Director of Sustainability for three years, which gave me great insights into the team and the University. I had taken the opportunity in my previous role to get involved with as many projects as I could, training up to be an environmental management systems auditor and working on everything from communications and sustainability reporting to co-leading on developing our Staff Sustainability Architects programme. I had also worked for an environmental consultancy and third sector organisations before this so had insights and skills from across the board.

What key skills have you been able to develop since being employed?

Organisation, adaptability and resilience are key to working in sustainability, and there have been plenty of opportunities to develop them through the various roles I have had since graduating.

How is your current employment enabling you to develop on your long term career plans?

My current role is enabling me to work on projects that I haven’t had much previous experience in and it is also pushing me to work on areas that I’m slightly less confident in, such as delivering talks to huge lecture theatres of students.

What piece of advice would you give to a graduate looking for employment?

Apply for roles that resonate with what you want rather than following the crowd - exciting and unexpected opportunities can come out of this. Also, make sure you keep up your interests outside of work - you often end up with knowledge and skills that are applicable to your role.