Lorraine is a graduate of University College Cork and Lund University in Sweden
An interdisciplinary perspective is important.
I began my degree in ecology at University College Cork in 2011, and I knew then that I wanted to pursue a career in environmental consultancy. By the time I completed my studies, however, I didn’t feel fully equipped for the world of consultancy. I had a strong technical grounding in environmental science, but I felt my practical professional skills needed development.
I decided to pursue a master’s degree in Environmental Management and Policy at Lund University in Sweden, and it provided me with a practical, interdisciplinary perspective on how environmental issues relate to private enterprise, public policy and economic development.
The knowledge and skills I gained during my postgraduate degree were invaluable when it came to securing my role at ROD, and they’ve certainly been of great use in my first few months at the company.
Voluntary work provides excellent opportunities for networking and skills-building.
While undertaking my master’s degree in Sweden, I worked as a volunteer on several environmental consultancy projects for companies from across a range of sectors, including Volvo Trucks; a small Swedish business with a ‘circular business model’; and a Portuguese semi-public wine certification authority.
In addition to being a lot of fun, working on these projects really boosted my confidence in dealing directly with clients and reinforced my desire to work in consultancy.
Last year, while working on my master’s thesis, I volunteered with Cork Nature Network (CNN), a local eNGO that organises ecology-related educational events and runs conservation projects in Cork city and county. I put together the organisation’s newsletter and helped out at public events.
Working with CNN provided me with valuable insights into the operation of environmental NGOs and gave me a chance to make some contacts in the sector. It also gave me a better appreciation of the opportunities and challenges facing environmental scientists working in consultancy and eNGOs.
The environmental field is a fast moving one, so it is important to stay up-to-date with the latest thinking.
My favourite Irish environmental news site is GreenNews.ie, and I have contributed several articles on environmental policy developments to the site over the years. Reading this and other industry publications, such as the Irish Wildlife Trust’s Irish Wildlife Magazine, helps me keep abreast of developments in environmental affairs in Ireland and elsewhere.
Twitter is also a surprisingly useful resource for keeping me in the loop on Irish environmental happenings as they unfold.
Read up on the company before the interview.
It may seem obvious but the value of knowing your facts about a prospective employer cannot be understated. I read ROD’s website thoroughly before my interview. Not only is this important interview prep, but it will also give you an insight into the operation and culture of the company and help you to establish whether this is the place for you.
I was particularly impressed with ROD’s Continuous Professional Development (CPD) record. Being part of an organisation that assigns a mentor to every staff member and invests so much in its team’s professional development really appealed to me. I started working with ROD last January, and I have already benefitted from the programme.
Yana is a graduate of University College Dublin.
Gain practical experience in the area.
After completing an undergraduate degree in environmental science, I decided to pursue a master’s degree in Global Change: Ecosystem Science and Policy. This course appealed to me because it focused on how environmental protection is translated into European and Irish law.
During my master’s, I undertook a two-month internship with a leading engineering consultancy in Dublin, where I gained practical experience in carrying out environmental reports, broadened my knowledge of Irish law and learned what life is like working in a busy consultancy.
During my interview for ROD, I demonstrated that I had the right combination of professional qualifications and practical, transferable skills for the role.
Be flexible - don't be afraid to stray beyond your comfort zone in terms of previous academic and professional experience.
In my first month at ROD, I definitely felt a little out-of-my-depth because of the sheer volume of new information I had to take in. But, over time, I settled into the role, and I am enjoying the variety of projects here and the experience that comes with managing the different challenges that each one presents.
In terms of projects, I have been involved in compiling an EIA Screening and a Part VIII planning application development for Markievicz Bridge in Sligo and helped in writing environmental reports for the Maynooth Eastern Ring Road, Waterford Transport Hub and the Waterford City to Rosslare Harbour Greenway.
Show leadership in pushing environmental issues and know how to communicate your ideas to a non-technical audience.
It is an exciting time to be an environmental scientist. Being able to communicate and engage others in environmental issues is key, because we have an important role in encouraging people to think about the long-term impact of development on the environment.
I’m inspired by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish activist, who has helped young people around the world to voice their concerns about how their lives, and the lives of future generations, will be impacted by climate change. Her quiet but powerful speech to MPs in Westminster in April prompted politicians to declare contrition for their failure to act; it was pretty remarkable.