When looking at the work shadowing opportunities provided by the Careers and Employability department at The University of Chester, I was taken back by the scope of opportunity. From shadowing legal professionals at a solicitors to working with animals at a local shelter, the catalogue gives you an opportunity to investigate the field you think you are interested in and qualified for.
So when considering my own future plans I decided to look at my passions and see what it would be like to pursue a relevant career in them. I have always been interested in sustainability and being ‘green’ and much of my experience verges on working in this field, but what would a career which focuses on sustainability entail and how could you do this at a University? Do you just make sure the students recycle? As I found out the truth is much more complex and interesting than that.
My day work shadowing with the University of Chester’s Sustainability department showed me what corporate responsibility really looks like. I saw the challenges faced and it helped me with my decision to see if a career in this field would be for me in terms of enjoyment and whether I would even be qualified.
The Sustainability department is made up of two staff members. Their experience include from working at The World Wide Fund for Nature, working on energy projects and now forming their department which measures carbon and waste outputs for six University sites. Their job is to create projects and strategies to embed and improve sustainability throughout the University’s community, culture, curriculum and campus. So getting to sit with them and quiz them about how they do what they do and how they got to where they are today was invaluable.
It was a great learning experience for me, giving me the opportunity to be exposed to facts such as 43% of the University’s carbon emissions are produced by the new Science Park at the Thornton Campus leaving the other five producing the remaining 57%. This has created a priority to find alternative methods of powering the Science Park. This gave me an indication of the challenges of a career in sustainability and what kind of work is being completed in order to drive change for the University.
My day consisted of asking every and any question that I could think of while I was able read their reports and look through the sustainability strategy which will shape their sustainability report when they write one for the first time this year. After reading many of these reports when studying my Masters in International relations and Globalisation it was incredibly useful to be able to fire questions off to the people who have written them. It was also a great opportunity for self-reflection. You will very rarely get another opportunity to sit and ask people who have a career you aspire to have, ‘Am I studying the right things to qualify me for this career’, ‘where do I go from here’ and ‘have I got the right end of the stick to what this sustainability thing is all about!?’
From 2002 when the University chaired its first environmental task force to 2016 where the department is writing its own sustainability report, the University has made massive strides when it comes to being green and responsible, and the people who work in the department are really making a difference to the lives of students and staff here. So if you have the idea that working in sustainability is saving the whale and recycling, it’s much more than that. This opportunity gave me the motivation and confidence to continue to pursue a career in making the world greener and I wouldn’t have known this without my shadowing experience.
If you would like to learn more about The University of Chester’s sustainability initiatives, all the information is accessible on the website: http://www.greenchester.co.uk/about-us
If you would like to try work shadowing yourself please see the website: