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After Graduation Interviews on Finding a Job in Sustainability, Part 2

In the second part of a series of interviews with my old classmates from my MSc in Leadership for Sustainable Development, I interviewed Sarah Kingston, who was one of the younger students in the course. Sarah graduated in December 2010 with a degree in Architecture from the Art College in Belfast (meaning she started her MSc before she had officially graduated from her BSc). Coming from a family involved in property–and showing great promise in practical design–architecture seemed the natural choice. I asked Sarah the following questions:

What made you choose an MSc in Leadership for Sustainable Development?

Coming out of university at the height of a recession, I knew that getting a job in architecture would be difficult. I needed to find a way to stand out as an architecture graduate. I needed to find an area of architecture to specialise in. Architecture and sustainable development are inextricably linked. Whilst studying architecture I felt that sustainable development was a subject that should be addressed more throughout the course. I felt that sustainable development would be a subject that would become more important in the future. By studying this subject for a MSc, I could boost my skill-set, my knowledge of architecture and my career prospects in the future.

Did the course fulfill your expectations? What improvements, if any, do you feel could have been made?

The course did teach me a lot about the bigger picture of sustainable development. There was a lot more associated with the term than I had initially expected. I learned about things that I had never really understood before, in particular social theory and politics. With this in mind it did fulfill my expectations. However, I feel that the course could be improved by offering teaching in specific areas of sustainability rather than giving us general information about all sectors of sustainability.

The course finished more than two months ago. Briefly outline your job hunt since the end of September, highlighting any successes you might have had.

Since I finished this course I have applied for 15 jobs from a wide range of work environments, from the local council to shops on the high street as a sales assistant. I have been on six interviews so far. I am currently waiting to hear back from four of these interviews (all of which are temporary jobs for Christmas staff).

Getting an interview for a waste education officer was one of the successes throughout the job hunt period. I was well prepared for the interview and thought I did quite well. I answered all the questions and was able to show them that I had experience organising and hosting a series of similar education workshops with my classmates as part of university project. Although I didn’t get the job, it was my first interview and I still believe it went well. I think the fact that I am only 22 holds me back a bit. Others who apply are older and have a bit more confidence and life experience behind them. Unfortunately, there’s not much I can do about this. Perhaps I should blame my parents!

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?

Unfortunately, even with the experience I gained throughout the course and various placements, experience still remains to be the main obstacle in getting any job. In order to overcome this, I need to gain more experience, however, being in university for four years is expensive. I am concerned that the only experience I can get is if I work for free. With bills and debts to pay off already, it seems unfeasible to do this. The main thing is to make sure these debts don’t increase and to keep a very close eye on the job section so I don’t miss any opportunities.

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.

Posted on: January 31, 2012, 6:00 am Category: The "After" Life of an Environmental Studies Student Tagged with: , , ,

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