Careers series – Graduate Level

As it is Sustainability Careers Week, we are going to be writing a series of blogs, one from each member of the team to share our experiences, how we got where we are today and offer some advice about establishing a successful career in the sustainability industry.

We are going to start with a blog from our newest recruit, Jane Smith – Graduate Management Trainee

  • Tell us a bit about yourself…

Hello QM! My name is Jane and I am a recent graduate (July 2016) working in the Sustainability team. My role involves individual project work, currently I am investigating Education for Sustainable Development at QMUL, as well as offering support to the wider team with planning and engagement. As a management trainee I have the opportunity to work in various departments within Professional Services and gain skills and experience in various departments within the Higher Education sector.

  • What was your first job?

My first ever job was working in a local kennels for dogs and cats. I got the job by volunteering on Sundays whilst I was in high school and as I enjoyed the role I was taken on as a paid employee over the summer holidays. My main tasks included cleaning the kennels, feeding and exercising the animals and grooming. As my boss was a Bernese Mountain Dog breeder I got to spend a lot of time playing with the puppies which definitely made up for all the kennel cleaning!

Just in case you were wondering…
  • How did you get to where you are today?

Since moving to London I have worked various part time positions e.g. student ambassador, club promotion and in QMSU. Working whilst at university developed my organisational skills, balancing uni work with my job, and also meant I could treat myself to the occasional night out whilst still paying the rent on time!

I got my first taste of the 9-5 by interrupting my studies for one year to undertake a placement at GlaxoSmithKline, Stevenage. At GSK I refined my presentation skills and learned to perform under high pressure situations, and most importantly learned how to work in a professional environment, (a valuable graduate attribute).

I also used my time at university to travel, working at a summer camp in Cape Cod, (MA) in my first year, and backpacking around South East Asia in my second summer. Travelling helped to develop my project management skills, e.g. budgeting, organising travel and accommodation.

All of these experiences have contributed to my current role by helping me to write an attractive CV and develop sought after transferable skills. What’s more important is I had a lot of fun in the process and was able to try out different career paths before graduating!

This is actually me!


  • What is your educational background?

I am from a traditionally working class area in Greater Manchester where I attended a regular state high school. I have always loved science so took on extra Biology and Chemistry GCSE’s in my final year just for fun!

Going into sixth form I was lucky enough to secure a science scholarship at a private boarding school in Fleetwood. This was completely different to my previous school as most of the residents were from overseas and I learned a lot about different cultures. I opted to study the International Baccalaureate (IB) as this allowed me to take 6 subjects which had to be varied across the disciplines. I chose Chemistry, Maths, English, History, Biology and French, (mais maintenant mon francais est tres terrible!)

After such an eclectic mix of subjects I was unsure about what to study at university, but in the end chose Chemistry as I found it the most challenging. Initially I opted for the 3 year BSc however I quickly realised my flair for the subject and upgraded to the combined Master’s degree. After 4 years I finally graduated QMUL with a first class degree, and since I love the university so much I’m still here!


  • What extracurricular activities do you do/have you done in the past?

When I get the chance to visit my parents I enjoy spending time outdoors walking my dog and riding my horse in the countryside, (though this is weather dependent). Here in London I make the most of the incredible music scene and go to as many gigs as possible. As far as sports go I enjoy playing basketball, and supporting my home team the glorious Manchester United- Come on you reds!

What a season!
  • What do you want to do when you grow up/in the future?

Having just started out in the great, big world of work it’s difficult to think that far ahead. As my role is currently non-specific I hope to have developed my career in the HE sector with a strong incorporation of sustainability in my future role. If money was no object I would love to open a dog shelter in London to rehome all unwanted dogs and provide a free kennel service for lost dogs until reunited with their owners. I would also offer a free puppy cuddling service!

  • What are you top tips for students who want to establish a successful career?

Use your time at QM wisely- it’s the old cliché but your university years really are your best ones!

Be prepared to work hard.

Don’t take on too much at once-  remember quality not quantity!






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