Image of Kelly Forster

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 a wide range of sustainability projects. My current role definitely allows me to do that, and no day is ever the same!

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

My current role aligns with all of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and in particular SDG 4 – Quality Education.  I coordinate and deliver the Leeds Sustainable Curriculum programme which aims to embed sustainability into all modules and manage student sustainability engagement activity. This includes coordinating sustainability input into student inductions and open days, the Student Sustainability Architects programme, the Annual Student Sustainability Research Conference and the sustainability volunteering programme, as well as being involved across a number of cross-cutting Service projects.

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. Being involved in recruiting staff at the university and seeing the number of very high quality applications we receive, its important to do everything you can to really get across your skills and experience, and show what added value you can bring that others may not have.

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 undertaken an internship with both Newcastle University Sustainability team and a placement with Student Community Action Newcastle as well as numerous volunteering roles before this alongside work in other industries 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 allow me to use my strengths and previous experience as well as continuing to give me lots of variety. In the long-term I’d like to see the work that I’m involved with having even more of an impact.

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. Don’t be afraid to apply for a role that doesn’t appear to be sustainability focused. There can be lots of opportunities to embed sustainability once you’re in a role and to create a role that aligns closely with your own interests and drivers. Finally, make sure you keep up your interests outside of work - you often end up with knowledge and skills that are applicable to your role, that can help drive things forward in new and exciting ways and can help you stand out from the crowd.