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Career Options in Environment, Agriculture & Conservation: Student

As an undergraduate, the environment you live in is likely to be a bomb site amalgamated of pizza boxes, beer bottles and nightclub flyers. Indeed, the only thing you may be concerned about conserving is your very own liver. However, there will be one day where you want to pursue a career in the environment, agriculture and conservation industry, and it’s important to do some groundwork to ensure you have plenty of prospects when you’ve graduated.

Undergraduate opportunities

- Internships and work experience

- Sandwich year/gap year

- University societies

- Graduate scheme (applications).

Summer internships and work experience is the buzzword among all undergraduates across the country right now, regardless of the degree their studying. Larger organisations such as the Wildlife Trust may run a specialised internship programme so it’s work taking a snoop around their website. If they don’t have a programme, send an email asking about any opportunities. Or better yet, get on the blower and give your chosen organisation a call. You’ll get all the information you need much more quickly and it shows that you’re committed with a good work ethic. You could find yourself assisting a workshop technician or being a farm hand for the summer (just make sure you wear sun cream!). 

Undergraduates looking to get into the environment, agriculture and conservation industry may also want to consider a sandwich year or a graduate gap year. A sandwich year allows you to take a year in between your second and final year to find a work placement and spend a year in the industry. You’ll be paid for this too (ka-ching!) and allows you to develop your experience and network of contacts in the industry. Alternatively, if your course does not offer this opportunity (boo!), you could think about intercalating. This fancy word basically means that you take a year out of your degree to gain work experience in your field of study. You could use this to work in fishery for a year or perhaps as a woodland ranger.

University societies should not be frowned upon either. You may think they’re just for those wannabe journalists who spout about their political views given every chance, but there are societies dedicated to the environment too. For example, they may run a campaign to get as many students walking or cycling to university for one week and could also lobby the university to put efforts into conserving local wildlife. Being part of this kind of society will show employers that you’re committed and passionate about the industry.

Graduate scheme applications may seem ages away, but with deadlines often closing before Christmas, it’s a good idea to get your backside in gear and check out which ones you’d like to apply for. Graduate schemes exist for town planners, sustainability consultants and engineers.

Deadlines to consider

Along with all those library book return dates, essay deadlines and night club guest list closures, taking into account other deadlines can be tough. However, if you want to give your job prospects a real boost, you need to be applying for internships and work experience. These will have strict deadlines if there’s an official programme that exists at an organisation. If you’re enquiring about the possibility of work experience or an internship, make sure to call in plenty of time. Not the week before. You wouldn’t leave coursework a week before starting it… oh wait. Well, the rule applies; you should get in touch with employers in plenty of time to ensure you have the best opportunity of securing work.

If you’re taking a sandwich year or intercalating, you should also give yourself plenty of time to find and apply for a job or course. There are also likely to be internal university deadlines for letting your lecturers or tutor know about what your plans are.

Finally, as mentioned, graduate schemes for the environment, agriculture and conservation industry are widespread. However, deadlines for graduate schemes are very early and often close before Easter eggs are on Tesco’s shelves immediately after Christmas. Basically, get snooping around for graduate schemes early on in your final year as deadlines come around quickly!