Careers series – Mid Level

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Welcome to the third blog in our careers series! Today we are going to be meeting Louise Sinnott, the Sustainability Engagement Manager at QMUL.

Tell us a bit about yourself…

Hello! I’m Louise Sinnott, the Sustainability Engagement Manager. My main role is to project manage the sustainability engagement campaigns across the university, using social media and events to drive behaviour change amongst staff, students and the wider community.

What was your first job?

I actually had two jobs as soon as I turned 16, one as a kitchen porter (washing dishes) at my local pub and one at a local coffee shop on a Sunday! Working from 16 gave me a really strong work ethic and improved my confidence as I had to meet lots of new people and talk to members of the public, all valuable and transferable skills in any job.

How did you get to where you are today?

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I was very lucky in that I always knew that I wanted to work in the environmental sector – as a teenager I wanted to “work for an environmental charity and save the world!” – I managed to achieve half of that goal by the age of 22 and I’m still working on the other half…

Originally I wanted to work in conservation, then be an ecologist and then finally work in the organisational side of sustainability. This transition happened by gaining experience in ecology and doing unpaid work experience in my local council as a biodiversity officer and realising that actually, ecology wasn’t for me. Luckily, the sustainability and environmental sector is broad and there are multiple paths that I could have gone down.

I went straight into my first graduate job whilst I was still writing my masters dissertation, the job was at Groundwork Suffolk – an environmental charity where I worked as an Environmental Business Advisor. My job role was more technical than my current role and involved undertaking free energy efficiency audits at small businesses in Suffolk and Norfolk, calculating their carbon footprints, recommending energy efficiency projects and calculating the savings and payback periods. I also worked on community engagement projects which gave me the experience for my role as Sustainability Engagement Manager at QMUL.

What is your educational background?

I did well in my GCSE’s but lost interest in education during my A-levels, I subsequently did not get in to my first choice university (Leeds University) and had to apply through clearing. Luckily, I got offered a place at Liverpool John Moore’s to study Environmental Science and regained my interest and enthusiasm in academia. I graduated with a first class honours degree and was fortunate enough to get a full scholarship from the European Union to study an MBA in Environmental Management at Bangor University which was also externally accredited .This allowed me to graduate with a Merit in my MBA and also an Associate membership to the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment.

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

Taking pictures in Suffolk and the cloud forest of Costa Rica

I was brought up in the Cheshire countryside and my dad is a keen naturalist, therefore lots of my childhood was spent on walks. I gained an interest in wildlife from a young age and learnt about wildflowers and birds. I combined my interest of wildlife and photography and I now spend a lot of my free time taking pictures of birds, insects. mammals and plants which you can see on my website.

What do you want to do in the future?

I am incredibly ambitious and set clear career goals for myself. In 5 years’ time I would like to have a senior position within the sustainability department at a large organisation, ideally managing either multiple people or a small team. I would also like to be a full member of IEMA, working towards “Fellow”. I would like to continue my professional development and continue to attend training courses to enhance my career opportunities as much as possible.

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

  1. Be proactive – email companies that you are interested in working for and ask if they have any opportunities available.
  2. Volunteer – unfortunately, the job market is incredibly competitive, therefore sometimes to get your foot in the door you have to be willing to volunteer your time for free. I managed to do this by volunteering at my local council 3 days a week and working the other 4 at my local pub – this was tiring, but worthwhile in the end!
  3. Don’t be put off by rejection – it is very rare that you will get a job first time, make sure you gather all the feedback that you can from the organisation and use it in the next interview.
  4. Make sure the job you go for has training and professional development opportunities – it’s important to continue enhancing your experience once you have got a job. Look to work for a company that encourages personal and professional development and offers additional training.
  5. Do something you love! I feel incredibly lucky that I enjoy coming into work and feel passionate about what I do, for me that is more important than earning lots of money.
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