Oliver Slaughter - BSc (Hons) Environmental Science

Current employer: Capita / Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust
Current job title: Sustainability Officer
Current location: Brighton

Tell us what you have been doing since completing your studies
I applied for several roles in the environmental sector. Applications were time consuming and hard work and I spent a lot of time getting my CV punchy, well designed and onto two pages. After a handful of interviews and often down to the last two it was clear companies chose people with experience. I worked a basic admin job for a short time whilst applying and after being accepted for a role working in the NHS it was four months before I actually started.

Has your career path changed since graduation?
Yes and no. I knew that I would always end up in the environmental sector and in a position where I could make the most change and probably in a Sustainability Management team but I never considered that would be working in the NHS. The more I learn now I can’t believe that I ever missed the scale of what can be achieved here.

What is the most difficult thing which you have faced in your career?
From day one it is settling into an existing culture where everyone knows everyone and they are happy to talk in really long acronyms. I jotted them all down and had a list of nearly 100 different ones at the end of the day!

What is the best, most exciting or fun thing that you have done in your career?
The flexibility of the role is amazing although a little daunting at first, I am left to work on and act on my own projects. No one is checking that I have done it every day. This allows me to be creative and work on problems in my own way, which is equally fun and terrifying.

What, if anything, would you do differently if you could?
I would have applied for more jobs, I was very lazy with that once I had finished my degree, and it takes time to do applications and interviews. I worked that basic admin job for far too long.

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get in to the same line of work?
It sounds obvious but get some relevant experience from work experience or volunteering. Know your stuff about the subject area, do lots of research about the company and projects they are working on, so you can shine in the interview. Show your passion for it and be confident even if underneath you are nervous.

How did studying at Plymouth help you?
It kept me sane by having such amazing access to the outdoors, Cornish beaches, Dartmoor and Plymouth Sound. Plymouth is also amazing at leading in sustainability and there is so much going on behind the scenes to get involved with, all you need to do is ask around.

What is your favourite memory of studying at Plymouth?
Spending time with my course mates, if that’s at home, in Drakes Café before starting a solid day of non-stop revision or taking a trip to the beach. They got me through the whole experience and the hardest thing about leaving was saying goodbye to them.

Do you stay in touch with other Plymouth University alumni or lecturers?
A group of my course mates try very hard to meet up every month or so and stay in touch, it’s difficult to get everyone in the same room but the lesson is not to give up.

I do try to keep in touch with and should do more to talk to my dissertation tutor Alison Stokes and the charismatic John Bull. I still stay in touch with Paul Warwick who works at the Centre for Sustainable Futures and I am trying to keep my sustainability links open to help with my work here at the NHS.

Would you recommend undertaking a course with Plymouth University, and why?
Most definitely, it is a beautiful place to study. You have the nightlife and convenience of a campus right in the city centre, everywhere is in walking distance and only a 30 min car journey away from some of the most beautiful natural landscapes. On top of Plymouth being a leading university in sustainability.

Is there anything else which you would like to share with our current students?
All the usual stuff, work hard, you will feel so rewarded when you get that first and it all pays off, trust me. Apply for lots of jobs, you don’t have to like them you can always reject an offer (it works both ways). Cherish the time and stay in touch with your course mates and friends, these are some of the closest relationships you will build in your lifetime, don’t let them go away lightly.