Work Experience Case Study: Kirsten

Personal details
Degree:BSc Sustainable Development .
School(s): School of Geography and Geosciences
Year of Graduation:Jun-2012
National of: United Kingdom
Employment details
Organisation: Fulbright
Job title: Fulbright Scholar
Occupational Sector: Sustainability Consultancy
How did you find out about the opportunity ?
I found out about the opportunity through an email that was circulated around the sustainable development course.
How did you apply ?

The initial application process consisted of a written application and extended references, as well as a short essay on a prescribed topic. If selected this was followed by a second round of formal interviews and a short 3 minute presentation.

How were you selected ?

The selection interview was led by two Fulbright officers and consisted of a three minute presentation followed by around 15 minutes of questions. I have to admit to being terrified by the prospect as I was expecting older interviewees and a formal atmosphere; however, the interview was led by young graduates who did their best to create a relaxed mood.

Before my interview I did a lot of research on how to answer questions as well as creating mock answers for questions they might ask, I would recommend that every applicant do the same. The Careers Centre has several good books on interview preparation. If possible it would also be beneficial to speak to a previous applicant (myself if you wish) or someone with experience in being interviewed.

Overall the best thing to bear in mind is that they are not looking for the finished product e.g. a squeaky clean presentation and rehearsed answers, but potential for growth and improvement.

Why were you successful?

After receiving my place I was told that they were looking for someone that they believed would grow and learn throughout the experience, not someone who, as I said before, was the finished product. I would therefore recommend trying to incorporate into interview answers how you feel the project could benefit you as a person, for example through increasing confidence and independence. This can easily be done through thorough preparation and reflection on why you want to be involved in the project as a whole.

What skills/ knowledge from your degree have you found particularly helpful in this role?
What have you been doing?

The scholarship, which was based upon ‘Sustainability and Climate Change’, lasted 5 weeks and was held in the University of Minnesota. However, the projects differ in venue and topic every year. We took part in formal classes and field trips as well as being exposed to a wide range of cultural activities. As the culmination of our trip we were asked to present to the Washington Department of State, a scary but very rewarding end goal! The following paragraphs touch briefly on program contents which will be included in all scholarships:

Classes: The participatory nature of classes meant that classes were always full of debate and subject to extensive questioning. We received presentations on a diverse range of material from environmental justice with relation the native American population to the science of climate change. All of the lecture material encouraged us to develop a highly critical nature towards material that was presented and to assess its relevance to our studies field. All of the skills that these sessions fostered have since proved highly beneficial.

Field Trips: For one of our field excursions we were taken to the world famous Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve where we were addressed by one of the chief scientists. Over a two day span a diverse range of learning techniques were employed from lectures, to tours and questions sessions. All field trips were extremely valuable and again served to boost our understanding of sustainability immeasurably as well as demonstrating the diverse range of methods being used to address the issue throughout Minnesota.

Cultural and Social: We were faced with a diverse and jam packed social program. The American hospitality was overwhelming, for example, we were welcomed into people’s homes for hosted dinners and taken to the cinema with the main leader of the group and her children. Further activities range

What are the main things you have gained from this experience?