My Journey from International Education to Environmental Sustainability

by | Feb 16, 2024 | Education | 0 comments

Hi everyone! I’m Nox, and I graduated from The University of Manchester in December 2022 with an MA in International Education. Prior to this I completed my undergraduate degree in Translation at Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, now I work as an Environmental Sustainability Officer at The University of Manchester in my first-year placement within the Future Leaders Graduate Scheme.

Now, you might be wondering how degrees in Translation and International Education led me to this path of Environmental Sustainability, well that’s the power of humanities! Every experience from studying and work experience has contributed to my current role and future career development.

When I was studying Translation, the most important aspect and interesting thing about it is that it is a tool and a bridge to connecting humans. It also provided me with the opportunity to understand fields outside of humanities. I worked as a Translator in the Renewable Energy team at General Electric, which gave me my first formal exposure to environmental sustainability; planting a seed in my head that this could be a potential career path. When I went on to study International Education, I developed many transferable skills such as project management skills, communication skills and leadership skills. I was also a Student Representative on this course which also developed these skills. As I am an international student now employee, I came to the UK and experienced a completely different education system compared to the one I grew up in. In the diverse culture and lifestyle, I began to speak my third language all helped me develop adaptability and resilience. Two key skills for working in sustainability.

Upon graduating, I felt brave and confident enough to apply for the Future Leaders Graduate Scheme and landed the placement as Environmental Sustainability Officer. Whilst the application, online assessment, interview and assessment day were a huge challenge for a non-native speaker, the biggest challenge was acquiring the knowledge to start my placement in such a short space of time. To overcome this, I spent a lot of time completing online courses, workshops, attending conferences and reading books related to nature biodiversity and sustainable food. I am still learning new things every day despite being in placement for almost 4 months! It’s amazing to step outside of my comfort zone and continue to improve and enhance my knowledge in this role. The skills I developed as a humanities student have really helped me transition into this role.

In my role, I have been involved in some incredible projects and events! I am currently working on the Nature Biodiversity Action Plan, Reusable Cup Scheme, Sustainability Fair and Fairtrade Event. On top of these, the nature of my role allows me to access a number of opportunities where I can continue to improve my skills, observe, network and attend many events, conferences and award ceremonies at the university and on national levels. I even got to attend the Green Gown awards! This was an incredible experience which showcased the university’s commitment to working towards our zero-carbon target by 2030. I have been truly inspired through this placement and by the work we do for Environmental Sustainability. My role is also a hybrid between the Environmental Sustainability Team and the Hospitality & Event Team for different projects, this requires me to constantly switch hats, but I am learning how to effectively plan my time and gain in-depth expertise in how the two directorates communicate, collaborate and achieve sustainability-related goals.

Moreover, I am increasingly realising more and more that despite coming from a humanities background, which isn’t the traditional route for those working in Environmental Sustainability, nowadays, one of the most important topics in environmental sustainability is – communication. My degree has proved to be incredibly important in this sector as we need to find ways to influence, educate people, and engage as many people as we can.

One thing I have realised is the need for more humanities students in Environmental Sustainability. As a translator, I can tell people from different cultures about environmental sustainability concepts and technologies, breaking down barriers to understanding its importance. As an educator, I understand how we influence and educate students. Those who study marketing can use creative content, graphics, and messages to raise people’s awareness about environmental sustainability. Those who did politics can help drive sustainable policies that treat everyone and the environment equally. The list and possibilities are endless!

Environmental sustainability should not be viewed as an isolated discipline, its integrated into everything and humanities students are the trail blazers for empowering it. Looking forward, I am very excited to be working with staff, students, local communities, and external environmental sustainability organisations to contribute to the Net Zero target.

Interested in making a difference? Head over to the Impact(H) page to learn more and to see how you could be involved.