Kelly Forster

Kelly Forster

What did you do immediately after graduating?

As part of my course I had completed a 10-week placement, and the company I worked for offered me a full time job at the end of it, which I took. After working for the Leadership and Legal teams for 7 months, I was offered a role as a Sustainability Consultant at the same company.

How did you find the process of your job search?

The process of searching for jobs has been straightforward and only really limited by my preference to stay in the Leeds area.

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 combine being a PA with working on various sustainability projects, combining skills I learned in past roles.

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

My role is extremely varied and depends on the support that the Head of Sustainability requires at any one time. There isn't really a typical day, but some of the things I am currently involved with include creating a new Sustainable Food Standard, leading on the production of the first annual University Sustainability Report, assisting with the development of a new staff training module and working with Commercial Services to embed sustainability across their operations. I also get involved with organising meetings and events, research and recruitment.

What was the application process like?

The application form for the role itself was fairly substantial, but this was followed by a short test and an interview which was straightforward.

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

The consultancy project placement I completed as part of my Master's degree really helped me to gain experience working in Sustainability and to stand out from others who had studied similar courses. Prior to doing my course, I volunteered for a number of organizations, including Student Community Action Newcastle and Friends of the Earth, and also completed an internship with the Sustainability team at Newcastle University.

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

Multi-tasking and organisation are both key to my role, as is adaptability and the ability to solve problems quickly. Resilience and the ability to step back and take a look at the bigger picture is something that is required for working both in sustainability and as a PA, especially in such a large organisation as a University. Additionally, I have developed an understanding of how sustainability applies in a business context in practice.

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

My current employment is enabling me to work in areas and on projects that I haven't worked on before, and the organisation is much larger than others I have worked at, giving me a different experience in that respect too.

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

Don't be afraid to accept a role that isn't exactly what you think you are looking for at first, and follow what resonates with you rather than what everyone else is doing - exciting opportunities can come out of doing both of these things. Also, make sure you keep up your interests outside of work - you may end up learning things that can be applied in your role, and it's good for reflection and keeping things interesting.