In the run up to this year’s Young Scot Awards, which SEPA is a sponsor of, we’re talking to some of the people who’ll be there representing SEPA. This time we caught up with Sam Curran, to find out how his passion developed and why he’s encouraging you to get involved.
Sam’s interest in the environment started in primary school when he was part of the ‘green group’. Simple things like keeping a small garden and making sure that people closed windows when they left the building really helped him to appreciate that even the smallest things can contribute big differences.
That early interest clearly made an impact, despite moving to London and enjoying the job he had there, he always really wanted to work in the environmental sector and move back home to Scotland.
“Two years ago when checking the SEPA careers page I saw an advert for a ‘Senior Business Consultant’. I was actually in Geneva running a half marathon when I applied, I didn’t get to see much of the city as a result but it was certainly worth it in the end!”
His main role in SEPA involves supporting the development of plans and strategies which help ensure that we’re focussing our efforts on the most important environmental priorities. By looking at ways we can perform more efficiently and effectively, we can spend more time targeting the environmental priorities that will really benefit Scotland.
And does the green life extend outside his job? “I’m certainly not perfect, but at home I try to do everything I can too. I recently changed all the lighting in the house to LED, try to compost everything I can and also try to buy organic food that has minimal packaging. My big project this year is to add another layer of insulation in the loft.”
As well as his own green interests, Sam is passionate about the importance of young people getting involved in environmental issues and debates.
“It is absolutely critical that young people are involved in environmental issues,” he stresses. “It’s today’s young people that will face the worst problems, it’s essential that their voice is heard and that they become part of the solution. I believe that all of us, no matter what our age or position in life have a responsibility to look after our shared environment and influence others to do the same.”
That’s not something that everyone will find easy, if you feel like a lone voice you can wonder how you will ever be able to make a difference – which is where he believes organisations like Young Scot play a crucial role. They act as a voice for Scotland’s young people, helping to ensure that everyone puts the environment first.
“Young Scot continues to recognise the amazing things that young people do and this year’s finalists are truly inspirational. From conservation work and litter picking to advising government on funding climate change projects – all of these people have contributed a huge amount. We can’t wait to meet you all at the Young Scot awards, hear more about the amazing things you do and who knows, maybe one day we could be working on projects together.”
There is certainly a lot of interest in the environment, a recent Young Scot poll showed over 50% of young people shared their concern that looking after the environment should be top of Scotland’s priority list, and working in a field you’re interested in is something many young people are keen to explore. But it’s not always easy to know where to start. So if you’re keen to build a career related to the environment Sam has some advice.
- It’s really worth immersing yourself in the subject; the environmental sector is constantly evolving so keep up-to-date by following what organisations like WWF, Scottish Government and SEPA are saying.
- One thing is for sure, you don’t have to have studied an environmental subject to work in the environment. If you can demonstrate that you understand the importance of environmental protection, take personal responsibility and have a solid set of transferable skills then you’ll succeed.
- Speak to people that are already working in the field, anyone who is passionate about it will love to help others kick start their career. Speak to people, or even drop them an email and ask for honest advice about what organisations might best suit you to work for and how you can tailor your application to maximise your chances of success.
- Good old google is the second best choice. There are so many companies now that will have environmental departments. Traditional industry is trying to improve their environmental footprint, sometimes it’s working for businesses like these that will allow you to make the biggest difference.
- And of course the more you can do to stand out from the crowd the better. Sam is part of Scotland’s 2050 Group – made up of about 20 young professionals who want to empower today’s young people to lead Scotland’s transition to a low carbon economy. Find out more about the group, and how you can get involved, online.
Don’t forget you can follow Sam through the @SEPAStaff twitter account, which he’s in charge of this month along with his colleagues Jenn and Olivia, so make sure you’re part of the discussion.