Sustainability is for everyone – whatever your degree. Read how Sarah’s humanities degree gave her the basis for a career in sustainability, where she has used her communication skills creatively to engage people with climate issues.
Careers in sustainability are on the rise. The number of green jobs advertised in the UK is growing at around four times the rate of the overall employment market and, with climate change frequently in the headlines, working for an environmentally sustainable business is a priority for 57% of young people.
For students and graduates, a career in sustainability can be a smart choice. Some degrees, like Sustainable Development and Environmental Sciences, have an obvious connection, but it is possible to get into the growing green jobs market even if you’re studying a subject without a clear link to sustainability.
How it started
I studied English Literature and History at the University of Edinburgh, which may not seem like an obvious first step towards a career in sustainability.
When I started this degree, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do afterwards – I chose subjects I enjoyed at school, and thought I’d figure the next part out along the way. By the end of my degree, I was aiming for a job in communications or marketing. I enjoyed writing and wanted a job where I could be creative.
After graduating in 2016 I started working as Marketing Assistant at Energy Saving Trust, an organisation working to address the climate emergency. I learned a lot from the rest of the marketing team and soon got involved in all the different aspects of marketing, from content creation and digital advertising to branding and events.
Throughout my degree I had built up the ability to research, digest complex information, and turn this into something more accessible – very valuable skills when dealing with technical information from experts in renewables and energy efficiency, and using this to create engaging marketing materials to get people interested in the big topic of climate change.
Developing my knowledge and skills
During my time at Energy Saving Trust, I moved up to Marketing Executive then to Marketing Manager with responsibility for UK-wide campaigns. I worked on a number of different projects which showed me the real-world effects of climate change and the technology and innovations which could help combat this.
I also went back to studying, completing a MSc in International Marketing at Queen Margaret University in 2022. This was a completely different experience to my undergrad degree as I was studying part-time alongside my full-time marketing job. I actually found this to be a benefit as I immediately saw how the theories and techniques I was learning about in class could be applied in my work.
Alongside modules in international marketing, digital communications and innovation, I studied marketing ethics as part of my MSc. This was the first time I had properly considered how important it was for me to work for a company which aligned with my own values. In a field like marketing, the same tactics can be applied across many industries, but I don’t think I would feel as fulfilled in my career if I didn’t believe my work was doing some good.
Tackling climate change – collaboration is key
In May 2023 I started a new position as Inbound Marketing Manager at Sunamp, a world-leader in thermal storage technology. This role has allowed me to apply the knowledge of international marketing from my MSc and my experience of working in sustainability to a commercial organisation, which is still led by a vision to contribute towards a sustainable future.
Sunamp is a fairly small organisation of around 80 people, so there’s a strong need for collaboration between marketing and other teams like product development, engineering and materials. Each plays an important part in creating, testing and releasing innovative products which make a real contribution to decarbonising heat and reaching net zero goals.
This shows we need a real mix of people and skills to tackle climate change. Whether you’re from a traditional environmental discipline or not, if you’re looking for a fulfilling job in a field which is likely to only keep growing, it’s worth considering how you could build a career in sustainability.
Sarah’s story illustrates how you can contribute to the sustainability agenda by working for a company which focuses on this, even if your role itself isn’t directly related to sustainability. For another great example of this, read Leo’s recent post.
And watch out for our next #EdSustainabilityCareers post, which will look at applying a sustainability strategy to part of a large public sector organisation.
(Image supplied by Sarah)
(Image supplied by Sarah)