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Where to start  

Being interested in a career in the environment sector opens up many possibilities. It is an incredibly diverse sector which makes it exciting but also a little daunting if you do not know quite what you would like to do. However, do not despair, there is a huge amount of information out there to help you find out about different roles within the sector.

You can view and apply for current vacancies, advertised through the Careers Service in Handshake.
 

Climate change

Where to start   

Working in this area, you will be researching, monitoring or impacting climate change. You could be working in any of the following: research, policy, advocacy, education, or lobbying.

How to know if you’re suited to this sector  

Most people interested in this area of work care about climate change, and want to make a difference to the environment. You will need to think about what challenges you see yourself working on and what role/s you see yourself doing.  The Climate Change Committee can help you develop your sector knowledge on a national level and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) can provide an international perspective.  

How to get the experience to be credible

As this area of work crosses sectors and industries, career routes are diverse. Identify employers who are in the area of work that you’re interested in and find out how they recruit.  Some organisations such as the Met Office and the Environment Agency, as well as large building and infrastructure design consultancies (ARUP, Adam Smith International, Mott MacDonald, AECOM), offer graduate schemes and internships. 

Climate-KIC offers a summer school which supports students in creating and developing climate-related business ideas as well as working on their business plan and pitch.   

How to find employers or training courses  

Use the following resources:

Tips for succeeding in the application or selection process

If there are organisations that you’re interested in working for that aren’t currently recruiting, sign up for job alerts so you find out as soon as applications open.

Tailor your application for every role and ensure your CVs, cover letters and application forms are high quality, with no mistakes and highlight both your technical skills and broader transferrable skills. Research each organisation thoroughly: prove you understand what they do, what makes them unique, challenges they are facing and any new strategic directions. 

What Cambridge offers to help with this career

  • Environment & sustainability panels – listen to our past talks.
  • Engage for Change – a programme where students design, implement and evaluate their own environmental sustainability-related intervention.
  • Cambridge Climate and Sustainability Forum
  • Sustainability Essentials – online course

Other things you should know

Climate-KIC offers a summer school which supports students in creating and developing climate-related business ideas as well as working on their business plan and pitch. 

Conservation

Where to start   

Conservationists work with the natural world. They can work in rural or urban environments, marine, terrestrial or freshwater environments. Roles can include managing and monitoring a certain environment, fauna or flora, developing policy, campaigning, fundraising or research and analysis.

Your work focus could be anywhere in the world from the UK to tropical environments, working for a charity, government body, or a consultancy. You may find it helpful to read about the following roles online; ecologist, nature conservation officer, arboriculturist, marine scientist.

There are also many non-science based jobs to consider (eg marketing, HR, fundraising, environmental education officer).

How to know if you’re suited to this sector  

Reflect on how much you genuinely value protecting the environment - you will need to convince employers of this. For some roles, you’ll need to build up experience by volunteering and/or short-term contracts. Consider whether this suits you.

How to get the experience to be credible

Field experience can be essential for certain roles - volunteering for an organisation or taking on some vacation work is a good way to gain experience. For non-science based roles research the skills and experience required for the specific roles and start to acquire these whilst at University.

Further study or certification required

Some roles may require specific surveying, plant identification or GIS skills.

How to find employers or training courses  

Tips for succeeding in the application or selection process

Use your network and contacts to find out about organisations and their opportunities.

  • Tailor your application for every role and ensure CVs, Cover Letters and application forms are high quality, with no mistakes and highlight both your technical skills and broader transferrable skills. 
  • Research the organisation thoroughly: prove you understand what they do, what makes them unique, challenges they are facing and any new strategic directions.
  • Be prepared for increased virtual interviewing and testing. See our job application guides.

What Cambridge offers to help with this career

You could also stand to be the Green Officer or equivalent on your JCR or MCR.

Other things you should know

There are few graduate schemes is this area of work, so you will need to be proactive to find graduate level roles.

Renewable energy

Where to start   

Employers can include utility companies, engineering companies, windfarms, agricultural organisations, environmental consultancies, government and trade bodies, and can range from large corporate organisations to smaller specialist organisations. 

Roles in this sector can include research and development into plant equipment and technologies, project management, design and manufacture, policy making, campaigning, marketing and sales, together with various management, finance and IT roles.

How to know if you’re suited to this sector  

You will need an interest in renewable and sustainable energy: the Energy Institute and The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) can help you develop your sector knowledge. Engineering and Science backgrounds are a natural route in but not the only route. Think about the role/s you’re interested in pursuing.  

How to get the experience to be credible

Some of the larger employers attend our Engineering, Science and Technology event in Michaelmas. Take this opportunity to speak to them and identify suitable opportunities. Follow sector news to identify smaller, specialised organisations, identify and speak to contacts in the industry and consider making speculative applications. 

How to find employers or training courses  

Tips for succeeding in the application or selection process

Thoroughly understand the industry area to which you are applying - the Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology provides an overview of the various forms of renewable energy and clean technology.

  • Tailor your application for every role and ensure CVs, Cover Letters and application forms are high quality, with no mistakes and highlight both your technical skills and broader transferrable skills. 
  • Research the organisation thoroughly – prove you understand what they do, what makes them unique, challenges they are facing and any new strategic directions.
  • Be prepared for increased virtual interviewing and testing. See our job application guides.

What Cambridge offers to help with this career

  • Engineering, Science and Technology Fair
  • Green Careers Fair
  • iTeams – some projects are sustainable energy related.
  • Annual Cambridge Carbon Challenge
  • Annual Environment panel – listen to the podcasts of previous sessions.
  • Student Switch Off (SSO) - a sustainability competition run in Cambridge colleges.
  • You could also stand to be the Green Officer or equivalent on your JCR or MCR.

Other things you should know

Larger organisations may offer annual graduate schemes, but this may not be the case for smaller organisations - a proactive speculative approach may be needed for these.

Sustainability

Where to start   

Sustainability is about how organisations can improve the social and environmental impact of their activities by making sure that their products, services and processes are developed and delivered in ways that consider people and planet alongside profit. Roles are varied and can be found in the private or public sector or in charities. 

How to know if you’re suited to this sector  

You may find it helpful to refer to the UN’s ‘17 sustainable development goals’ to reflect on how you define sustainability and where your career thinking fits into the sustainability landscape. Think about what issues you want to work on and what role you want to play in these. The Guardian and the Cambridge Institute for Sustainable Leadership can help you develop your sector knowledge.  You may also find it useful to read about the role of a Sustainability Consultant.  Visit our Self-reflection toolkits to audit your current skill set and identify how these suit specific roles.

How to get the experience to be credible

Seek out opportunities both inside and outside of your study to build your experience. The University's Living Laboratory for Sustainability provides students with opportunities to carry out research and projects across the University to improve its sustainability. Becoming involved may help you develop skills for future roles. 

Sign up to Handshake notifications to be alerted about careers events, employer visits, and skills sessions.

Sustainability Essentials for Business 2020-21: FREE online course

The Cambridge Institute of Sustainable Leadership (CISL) is once again offering a FREE online course in partnership with the Careers Service for undergraduates and Masters students who are interested in pursuing a career in Sustainability. A limited number of licences is available with a deadline for completion of 6 September 2021.

For further information and to express your interest, please email sustainabilityessentials@careers.cam.ac.uk, stating when you will be able to complete the course.

How to find employers or training courses  

Acre

CharityJob

Environment Jobs

Sustainability Jobs – The Guardian

There aren’t many graduate programmes specifically for sustainability. Those that do exist are normally found within consultancies or the large building and infrastructure design consultancies (ARUP, Adam Smith International, Mott MacDonald, AECOM).

Tips for succeeding in the application or selection process

  • Tailor your application for every role and ensure CVs, Cover Letters and application forms are high quality, with no mistakes and highlight both your technical skills and broader transferrable skills. 
  • Research the organisation thoroughly – prove you understand what they do, what makes them unique, challenges they are facing and any new strategic directions.
  • Be prepared for increased virtual interviewing and testing. See our job application guides.

What Cambridge offers to help with this career

  • Green Careers Fair
  • Sustainability and Environment panels – listen to the podcasts of previous sessions.
  • Engage for Change - a programme where students design, implement and evaluate their own environmental sustainability-related intervention 

Other things you should know 

PwC, Corporate Citizenship (part of Chime Comms Group) and Carnstone Partners offer graduate roles and internships. 

General sector links

Finding Vacancies

Institutes, directories and research councils

Environmental conservation and management

Environmental protection & control

Sustainable development and renewable energy

Environmental law

International environmental co-operation

Organic agriculture

Pressure groups