June 27, 2024, by sustainablenottingham

What does a Graduate Envrionment Assistant at UoN do?

Tina Darlami joined the university’s sustainability team in August 2023 for a year long placement. She reflects on her time and the opportunities it provided.

After graduating from the University of Nottingham, I was considering what I’d like to do for my career. I was always interested in sustainability and the environment, especially with my academic foundations and background, and it was heavily incorporated within my education. The intersection between the environment and people was a major topic of discussion. Therefore, when I got my position as a Graduate Environmental Assistant, it hit me that sustainability is and should be incorporated into everything.  

When I think about the members of the Sustainability Team, I am always amazed by how much workload they manage, given the size of the UoN estate, which functions as a community and a microcosm of society. We encounter sustainability daily; it’s evident in our transportation choices, our food consumption, and our waste disposal practices. Sustainability is also reflected in the buildings we occupy and the natural surroundings we enjoy.  

In these past 10 months, I’ve had great opportunities to expand my understanding and broaden my learning in a practical hands-on way. 

Some key roles I’ve taken include: 

  • Led the development of a waste opportunities report, identifying actionable recommendations for improving campus sustainability. 
  • Travel Lead for the Nottingham Business School’s trip to Kenya, fostering intercultural understanding and global citizenship. 
  • Ran and administered the hall’s waste and energy competition. 
  • Co-facilitated a Climate Fresk workshop, engaging students in a creative exploration of climate change solutions.  
  • Created and managed the monthly sustainability newsletter, social media accounts sustainability mailbox. 

The workload could be intense at times, juggling various events and report deadlines while maintaining engagement across different social media platforms. However, tackling such a diverse range of projects has been incredibly rewarding, especially since it aligns with my interests, so it didn’t feel like work most of the time.  

As I mentioned, sustainability is such a broad and diverse field, and I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to explore its different elements by assisting various team members and collaborating with other university teams, such as the Residential Experience team and the Community Engagement team. 

From Nottingham to Kenya

My favourite – if unexpected – experience was accompanying students from the University of Nottingham to Kenya for the Design and Learning Labs Challenge. The trip allowed me to gain firsthand experience in climate resilience projects and connect with sustainability efforts on a global scale, particularly considering the unique challenges faced by developing countries. 

This initiative was a collaboration between the British Council, the University of Nottingham, and KCA University. The Challenge, set by Circle Innovation, aimed to tackle environmental issues by developing innovative solutions for an emerging startup, Chemolex. It was incredible to witness the collaboration, co-creation through a human-centred design approach, and the cultural exchange. 

My experience with the Sustainability Team has been hugely fulfilling. It was a privilege to secure a position that aligns so well with my dedication to the environment, making it a fantastic first professional role. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the challenges and opportunities to learn, and I’m grateful for the supportive and collaborative team environment.  

Where next?

In my next steps, I am travelling through Southeast Asia for a few months. Starting in Nepal, and making my way down to the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand. When I return to the UK, I hope to leverage the skills and experience I gained with the Sustainability team into my next role.  

Posted in careersStudents