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A year as a Sustainability intern

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Hi, my name’s Lucy and I am the current 2022/23 Sustainability Communications and Engagement intern in the Sustainability Service at the University of Leeds. This is my year in industry which is integrated into my BSc Sustainability and Environmental Management degree. 

My main responsibilities within my role are student engagement and social media management. This includes creating new and exciting content for our social media platforms, writing and copywriting blog content for our website and helping manage the communications for our Student Sustainability Architects. 

Why did you want to do a placement? 

A photo of three women stood behind a stall

I wanted to do a placement because I was keen to get industry experience and an insight into the behind the scenes of the business world. This was not just to increase my employability once I graduated, but also to benefit my career goals by giving direction into what sector within sustainability I would like to work in.  

Sustainability is a huge umbrella term which has a different meaning to different people. For sustainability to have full effect, it should be embedded within every discipline and sector, and be implemented directly, rather than a ‘tick box’ in the business world. As a sustainability student, this gives scope to work within multiple sectors, however, leaves the challenge of deciding exactly what area in the vast world of sustainability you’d like to focus on. Therefore, a placement opened the opportunity to discover first-hand the ‘behind the scenes’ a sustainability role holds and allows me to make a more educated decision on careers once I graduated. 

What are your favorite moments?  

My favorite moment was helping the communications for the Student Sustainability Research Conference 2023. Having the opportunity to see a project progress from start to finish whilst I was in post was not only incredibly satisfying, but also fulfilling to see the reason we do what we do; to create opportunities for students to come together, connect and share their passion and knowledge in sustainability. 

A photo of the Sustainability Service in a group photo while on a day out to Gair Woods

Another favorite is meeting and working in such a supportive and vibrant team. The Sustainability Service is the most welcoming environment I could have hoped for. Coming into a workplace for the first time as an intern is a very daunting experience. But I strongly believe having a team who supports me and encourages me to go out of my comfort zone is a key reason to why I have found this placement so beneficial and growth-inducing.  

I could go on with more moments, but there have been too many to mention; so please see them all in my Be Reals. 

A collage of different Be Reals

What are your proudest achievements? 

My proudest achievement must be seeing the work we are doing in the comms team directly pay off in increased engagement and following across our social channels. I have been given creative freedom and have loved using this to diversify our Instagram account to include reels, alongside other engaging content ideas. This has made a massive difference to our Instagram, with our following increasing by 25.5% since I started my role in September (if you don’t already follow – go follow it now!). 

My favorite pieces of Instagram content I have created are the ‘Day in the life of an intern’ reel and the ‘Cheers a reusable’ reel. I have also really enjoyed sharing blog posts and must say my favorite was working alongside Leslie Arkless to create a Peregrine blog!  

Words of wisdom  

If you are considering a placement year, my best advice is to go for it! The experiences I have gained have propelled my employability and self-growth and will be invaluable upon graduating. Not only this, but I have gained many contacts and connections, which would not have been possible without this year in industry.  

The Sustainability Service are currently hiring the next cohort of Sustainability Interns. There are two campus internship roles available, which are open to current 2nd / penultimate year undergraduate students at the University of Leeds. Take a look at the job descriptions and get your application in now and email with any queries. 

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United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

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