A job in the environment sector? I never thought of it until now…

Image Ⓒ Reefah Chowdhury

By |2022-07-27T08:45:40+00:00July 25th, 2022|Conservation, Inclusion, Jobs, Our Team, Synchronicity, Youth|Comments Off on A job in the environment sector? I never thought of it until now…

Image of Reefah

In March 2022, Reefah Chowdhury began working with us as part of the Race for Nature’s Recovery (R4NR) programme. She joined Synchronicity Earth with a background in law to hone her communication abilities and gain knowledge of the environment sector. In this blog, she describes her experience being part of the RNR programme, and her role as a communication assistant.

Memories of nature

When you live in London, it can be hard to envision nature in all its splendour. You only ever think about it when you’re complaining about the lack of open spaces and the never-ending pollution from which you cannot escape.

Image of Victoria Park with trees

Victoria Park, London. Image Ⓒ Reefah Chowdhury

My earliest memory of nature and London’s natural environment was at my local ecology centre in East London, when I was 7 years old. My school and the ecology centre collaborated to teach students about the urban ecosystem and to raise tadpoles and tend frogs in a project called “Bringing the countryside to the East End.” 

They had all sorts of bugs and amphibians and, during a demonstration with an ecologist, a small frog the size of a ping pong ball was placed in my hand. The frog’s sliminess made me squirm, but I overcame this, fascinated by its googly eyes.

Child holding a frog

Child holding a brown moor frog in their hands. Image Ⓒ iStock. ANGHI

This memory continued to live on, but my connection with nature drifted as I grew older and moved forward with my law degree. I took a few summers out to camp with friends and family, but I never saw the environment sector as a career choice.

But then, earlier this year I read an advertisement for a communication assistant at a conservation charity. This position was part of Race for Nature’s Recovery (R4NR), a programme designed to use the Government’s Kickstart scheme to support over 100 young people from underrepresented backgrounds in the sector to gain entry-level positions. I was excited about the possibility of this new career path but also concerned about my lack of knowledge and experience with nature.

However, I came to realise that, particularly for a communications role, my background would be essential in understanding how to reach out to those who were also like me: those who are curious about nature but haven’t had much opportunity to learn about the natural world and the environment sector.

The transition

Image of Reefah standing infront of a tree

Reefah in Victoria Park, London. Image © Reefah Chowdhury

Transitioning from law to communications was a big jump. I went from writing formal legal essays about breaches of duty and the wrongs of omission to drafting attention-grabbing tweets about amphibians. Working as a communication assistant is all about drafting social media posts, editing blogs, and working on the Synchronicity Earth website.

Everything about this role seemed easy on paper but it was challenging as I had to change the way I write, think, and even interact with people online. But there have been some incredible highlights, such as helping with the Champions of the Endangered campaign and interviewing Nemonte Nenquimo, a Waorani Indigenous activist from Ecuador, with my colleague Jim Pettiward.

The R4NR programme offered support which helped me shift from the legal field to communications through mentoring and training alongside other people in the programme. This increased my knowledge of the environmental sector and supported me in showcasing my transferrable skills, which I can use in both my present and future roles.

Race for Nature’s Recovery

In April, the R4NR programme held a three-day workshop run by Action for Conservation and Voyage Youth. In the first session, I met numerous people who, like me, had no prior experience in conservation before starting their current roles, reassuring me that I wasn’t the only one!

Throughout the week, we discovered more about the environmental sector, including the diversity and recruitment issues it faces. For example, many young people like me have little awareness of this sector and the jobs available because of limited environmental knowledge. In addition, the need for unpaid experience is often a requirement for entry-level paid positions, which widens the gap and contributes to a lack of diversity in conservation.