In a way, it’s
comforting to know that I’m not the only one struggling to find work in the current job climate after graduating with a MSc in Leadership for Sustainable Development. But I take no joy in hearing that other people are having a hard time of it. I thought it would be interesting to ask the same questions of other classmates that I’ve been asking myself and find out if they are also in the same situation, while offering other recent sustainability grads some perspective as they pursue careers in the field. This interview is the first in a series of four that I will conduct over the coming months. Let’s hope someone has brighter news to report!
The first classmate I interviewed is Daniela Cavaliere
. Dani first graduated in 2005 with a degree in International Politics and, having realised that she wasn’t going to change the world through political means, looked towards the field of sustainability instead. I asked her the following questions:
What made you choose an MSc in Leadership for Sustainable Development?
I was made redundant from my job in banking and decided that if ever there was an opportunity to return to academic study, this would be it. I felt that sustainable development was an area with the potential for jobs and something I would be interested in. I have always wanted to make a difference in whatever career I choose and felt that I could achieve this within sustainable development.
Did the course fulfill your expectations? What improvements, if any, do you feel could have been made?
Certain areas have fulfilled my expectations. I knew nothing about sustainable development before I began my masters, but at the end of the year I have accumulated a vast in-depth knowledge of many of the key areas and concepts. My report writing and essay skills have greatly improved also, and I have confidence in my own ability to produce work of a professional standard. I now have a belief in my ability to work on collaborative projects and presentations alike. I have found a genuine interest in the subject matter that has honestly transferred into my everyday life.
On the flip side, although I have confidence in my ability, I do not have any professional accreditations to back it up. I believe my course would be greatly enhanced if I was certified in a specific area of sustainable development with a recognisable qualification, e.g. BREAM, EIA etc.
The course finished a few months ago. Briefly outline your job hunt since the end of September, highlighting any successes you might have had.
I left university on a high, full of confidence and enthusiasm. Following an attempt to pursue a self-employed consultancy route, I realised that I needed practical work experience in the field before heading in the self-employed direction.
I have applied to a variety of jobs so far, all linked to sustainable development. The jobs have been in a variety of locations throughout the UK, but still with no avail. It is disheartening to read job descriptions and know my own ability and strengths only to be rejected, or, more often than not, receive no response at all. I appreciate the difficult economic climate, but it is nonetheless disappointing.
What do you feel are the biggest obstacles preventing you from getting a job within the sphere of sustainable development? How can they be overcome?
Work experience. The work placements that formed part of the masters were very useful and I learned a lot, but there is often the requirement of x number of years in a similar role to the job being advertised. In addition to this, given the economic environment, there can be a large number of applicants applying for a job that is already earmarked for somebody else. There is no way of knowing this when applying which essentially means that I am wasting my time on a job that I will never get.
I am considering the option of an internship to overcome these issues, although the financial consequences may make this unfeasible. If, however, I did try this approach, I know I can prove my worth in an organisation. In essence, I need to demonstrate to the organisation that it would be a huge loss for them not to employ me!
Freddie Harris has an MSc in Leadership for Sustainable Development from Queen’s University in Belfast, Northern Ireland. His undergrad is in Tropical Environmental Science. Freddie writes about his experiences beyond graduation, giving others an insight into what is perhaps one of the most interdisciplinary subjects out there. He has recently started a sustainability consultancy business and has high hopes for the future!