What employment sector do you work in?
How long have you had a green job for nature?
£25,000 – £30,000
Please describe the work that you do.
I carry out research and ratings for the Marine Conservation Society’s Good Fish Guide. The Good Fish Guide provides consumers and businesses with the latest advice on seafood sustainability, using simple traffic light systems. On a day-to-day basis, I carry out research on fisheries and aquaculture and translate complex scientific information into an easy-to-understand format. As a team, we influence around one-fifth of seafood meals in the UK every year (around 750 million meals!).
What do you most like about your job? Any dislikes?
Being a researcher, I learn something new every day. Our team maintains around 700 sustainability ratings for over 140 wild-caught and farmed seafood species so there’s always new species to learn about and new science coming out. I also enjoy getting to meet with stakeholders and seeing the impact of the Good Fish Guide.
I also love working for an NGO, my colleagues are super inspiring and just really lovely and supportive people, which definitely makes the tough days a lot easier. The only downside for me is that I spend most of my work time behind a desk working from home, which has a great work-life balance but sometimes I’d love to get out and about in the industry a bit more! I live far away from most of my colleagues which also makes getting together difficult.
What inspired you into this career?
I grew up by the sea, playing in the rockpools, and attempting to surf and I always liked the idea of being a marine biologist. When I started studying at university, I soon realised I had no idea what that actually entailed and I started to look more into what areas I enjoyed and what matched up with my skillset.
I sort of ‘fell into’ working in sustainable seafood as that’s the job that came up at the right time, but I enjoyed the challenge of learning about such an interesting industry and quickly became passionate about the work. I particularly liked that sustainable seafood combines working on protecting the marine environment, and social issues.
Have you faced any challenges in progressing your career so far?
Yes! When I finished my undergraduate degree, it took around 8 months to get my first job in the sector I wanted to work in. That job was an internship paying minimum wage and living near London which came with its challenges! I also worked for a long time on short-term contracts, which don’t provide much security when you have rent and bills to pay.
What education/training did you have?
At school, I studied biology, geography and history at A-level. I did an undergraduate degree in Marine Biology at Stirling University.
Then I moved to London to do an internship at WWF-UK in freshwater communications, campaigns and policy which led to a role in seafood sustainability where I first got experience working in the seafood world.
I then did a Master’s degree in Marine Resource Development and Protection at Heriot-Watt University where I did my dissertation project on the crab and lobster fishery with St Abbs Marine Station and worked part-time as a fisheries consultant using contacts from my previous job. I then started at MCS after I graduated and I’ve been here ever since. I’ve also volunteered in various roles in the environmental sector since I was at school.
What advice would you give to someone coming into the profession?
Use any opportunity you can to show your passion and interests, through the projects you do at school or university, or through volunteering. Being able to say ‘I have an interest in X, as shown through my work on…’ goes a long way. Also, be willing to compromise on where you start, it’s much easier to get a job when you’re already in a company than as an external so consider applying for paid internships, or roles in a team or department that might not be your first choice.
Tags: Northern Ireland, NGO sector, research, desk-based roles, work-from-home roles