Name: Ruth Cole
Where You Studied At Uni: University of East Anglia
What You Studied At Uni: Environmental Sciences with a Year in Australasia BSc
Your Current Job Title: Fundraising Officer, Global Action Plan
What is it you actually do?
Mostly, I write funding applications for our environmental projects to grant-making organisations, including charitable trusts, lottery and governmental funding pots. I also do some applications for awards. Applications cover all sorts of different projects including our schools, business and community projects, so I get to find out a lot about what’s happening across the organisation.
Were you always interested in the ethical sector for a career?
I was brought up in a green-minded family so it was always on my radar – I remember wanting to be a marine biologist when I was seven! As I got older and developed more awareness of issues like climate change, I became more interested in taking action to tackle environmental problems. I chose my degree to give myself a stronger grounding in the science behind these problems.
What do you most like about your job?
It’s extremely satisfying to secure recognition for our projects, and funding needed to make projects happen. It’s also great to see the difference that our projects are making on the ground. Global Action Plan has a fantastic working environment because staff are so motivated and enthused by the work they’re doing.
Are there any downsides?
Sometimes applications can get a little tedious, especially when working on long, complicated forms. Fortunately, I’m usually working on a range of applications at any time and there are frequently other bits of work to break it up, such as helping out with community consultation work, editing web content, and reporting on current projects.
What personal skills/strengths do you believe you need to succeed at what you do?
For successful funding applications, you need to be good at writing clear, concise descriptions of what you want to do. It helps to have an understanding of the issues the project is trying to tackle because you need to be able to convince the funder that your project is needed. Some of the application processes can be quite complicated, so it helps to have a thorough, organised approach.
What would be your best piece of advice for graduates wishing to enter this sector?
Get involved in activities outside of work and study which will help you develop skills and experience. Sometimes volunteering is the only way to break out of the chicken-and-egg cycle of building up your CV. The best time to start is while you’re still at university because you have so many opportunities – my experience as Environment Officer for the Student Union was immensely helpful in building confidence and experience. I don’t think I would have been offered my first job without it.
Would you like to add anything?
It’s great to get your foot on the ladder but don’t be afraid to change jobs if it’s not right for you. My first job after graduating was not very enjoyable, but extremely useful in building my CV, and providing a stepping stone to something more interesting and challenging.