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How to maximise your professional skills by taking part in sustainability efforts while at university

30 May 2024
Photo by Mert Guller on Unsplash
Photo by Mert Guller on Unsplash

Having written about ways that students can be more sustainable, it is also helpful to know about the professional skills that can be earned by taking active steps to support sustainable causes. Student communities are historically known for igniting change and inspiring the political direction for the future, and Gen Z is no different. Young people are making numerous efforts worldwide to address the human impacts of climate change. One way this is achieved is through young people’s efforts to change consumption patterns, with a shift of common preference to vintage and sustainable fashion. Furthermore, students enact this and boost their own employability, to create university societies with a focus on improving sustainability. 

Student-driven sustainability initiatives 

Across the UK, widespread steps are being taken to make the country more sustainable. Students’ national environmental initiatives include Students Organising for Sustainability (SOS). This is a student-led initiative educating people interested in moving towards sustainability, hosting events and providing opportunities to gain experience in the sustainability sector. Meanwhile, there are more and more local initiatives that bring communities together to improve environmental action. Clean Up Cardiff is a Cardiff-based project that focuses on bringing volunteers together to assist in beach and river clean-up and litter picks around the city. Similarly, the Global Gardens Project works towards cultural exploration in inclusivity, as well as celebrating ecological diversity and utilising organic gardening practices. At Cardiff University, there are a number of sustainability initiatives and university societies, one being the new Sustainable Fashion Society which works to change consumption patterns by raising awareness for the ability of vintage fashion to be more affordable, sustainable and fashionable, especially in the face of growing fast fashion brands. The society hosts sustainable group charity shop walks and sustainable fashion shows, which reach out to the wider student community for event organisers and models, as well as work with local sustainable fashion businesses to provide a platform for them to display their goods.

Instagram: sustainablefashionshowcardiff

Why take action?

There are endless personal and professional benefits to engaging with these environmental initiatives. By 2035, sustainable projects are expected to provide 5 to 10 million new sustainable jobs in the U.S.. The UK aims to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, and careers in sustainability can be expected to be ever-increasing. Firstly, this is an opportunity for students to meet new like-minded people, attend interesting events and boost their personal style in a sustainable way. However, it is the endless professional benefits of getting involved that are just the ticket. From gaining experience in creating real change and activism to working towards a cause and hands-on experience in event organising. For instance, The Sustainable Fashion Society boasts numerous opportunities for the building of professional skills for interested students and provides skills and experience that can boost their job prospects and professional development alongside their degree.

What skills can be gained for future opportunities? 

Working towards a sustainable aim can greatly impact your future opportunities. Environmentally-focused employers may appreciate that you have a stated interest in environmental action and activism, and many employers will value graduates with proven successful experience in organising events. In addition, your interest in the sustainability and longevity of our planet demonstrates that you are a conscious, forward-focused individual. Finally, this will align you with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which many companies want to be in line with. Showing that you can take steps towards these aims, particularly in building sustainable communities, responsible consumption and climate action, you can prove that you are actively taking steps in the right direction for our planet, and are proactive in creating change.

How to get started

There are many ways that you can get involved and volunteer towards sustainable initiatives within your community. It is even easier for students as many of the sustainable societies will be attending the freshers fair, where you can chat with current members and get a feel of the role that you can have and the professional benefits. If you cannot attend your freshers fair, there is still time. Your student union will most likely have a website where you can get more information. Make sure to follow societies that you are interested in on Instagram or join their Facebook groups to stay up to date with current initiatives and how you can get involved. 

There are many reasons to get involved with sustainable societies like to make new friends and try something new, but the professional benefits of gaining these key experiences are often overlooked. Employers often seek proven expertise in key organisational skills and the tenacity to create change and make a real difference. So, for World Environment Day, there is no better time to look into how you can contribute towards improving sustainability and boosting your employability skills in the next academic year than today.