Year studied MSc Environmental Sustainability & Green Technology

2012/3

Undergraduate degree

BSc Applied Environmental Science & International Relations from Keele University

Current employment

PhD student, University of East Anglia, Norwich, "Governance of social practice for sustainability"

What did you do after graduation and how did you get this job?

After graduation, I ended up back at home living with my parents and looking for jobs. I spent time temping to make ends meet but I was always looking for the higher-end jobs that I really wanted.

Sharon (George, Course Director) kept telling me I should try a PhD, that I’d be good at one. I’d not really considered it before but I went on to FindaPhD.com and I found this one “Governing Social Practice for Sustainability”.  It read like the Further Work section of my MSc project, so it seemed to be written for me! 

In the meantime I got on to a recruitment centre weekend with Ofgem and ended up doing a series of interviews with them. While the prospect of living in London and fighting the good fight on energy appealed, eventually I decided to go to UEA. I’d never really considered myself an academic, but I keep coming back to it so now I’m doing my little bit to save the world from Norwich.

What does your job involve?

Mostly reading - the first year is mainly getting acquainted with the subject matter. While I’ve been interested in this sort of field for years I’ve never really studied it in depth before so that’s the first step, learning what’s around, theoretically speaking, so you can find a gap and push on.

It feels a lot like wandering in the dark much of the time, but I’m told that’s normal, so if you’re looking to do a PhD, don’t worry!

Right now I’m looking into a research gap around Social Practice Theory, which is an alternative framing for social behaviour, and governance. Basically the two have never really spoken to each other so it’s my job to set up a meeting. 

What did you learn on the MSc Environmental Sustainability & Green Technology which helped you get the job, or helps with your role now?

The MSc ESGT taught me what I was capable of. It also taught me that working really hard on something you’re passionate about pays off. When I arrived I was expecting to just scrape along with the minimum of grades and get a few letters after my name to take back into an increasingly unfriendly job market, but I threw myself into it anyway. Who knew I’d walk away with a Distinction… I certainly wouldn’t have called it.

I audited or attended every module but one and that gave me a very clear message. We need to do something about the future. It’s all very well saying it’s all doom and gloom but we’re going to have to live here so it’s everyone’s fight to make sure it’s as good as it can be. The other thing I learned though, is the power of our capacity to innovate, both in terms of novel technical solutions but also looking to the past for better ways of doing things.

Do you have any advice for current/prospective MSc Environmental Sustainability & Green Technology students interested in a similar career?

Oh, far too much to go into here. The main crux of it though would have to be to find what you are passionate about within the subject. Take a hard look at your life and decide what really matters to you. Once you’ve done that, go for it, keep your chin up, and don’t stop.

Honestly, I’d never really considered academia as a career choice, so I had no idea what to do to get a job here, or any tricks there might be, but those are the things that got me where I am. That you’re looking at this course and reading these case studies means you’re already on the right track, Keele is a wonderful place and this MSc was one of the best things I’ve ever done, I’m sure you will feel the same, the very best of luck to you.