The value of volunteering: How my role as a Sustainability Champion Assistant helped my career journey

Volunteering is a fantastic way to gain work experience alongside your degree, and King’s offers heaps of opportunities for this! Did you know you can join King’s Sustainability to promote the championing projects run at the University as a volunteer? Read more from our student case study by Rebecca, a former Sustainability Champion Assistant!

Author: Rebecca Lindsay, BA Philosophy and Spanish

hand reaching to green leaves of a willow tree
Photo by rafael albornoz on Unsplash

Why I became a Sustainability Champion Assistant

Sustainability has long been a passion of mine, and one that I’ve had the fantastic opportunity to develop as a Sustainability Champion Assistant for King’s Sustainability. I signed up with little expectation; just hoping to make some difference in my community. When I was allocated to the Energy Team, I was nervous. I knew nothing about energy, really, and I wasn’t sure what I could realistically offer the group. If there’s one thing I know now, it’s that you always have something to offer.


Learning in the role

As part of the Energy Team I assisted in developing a social media campaign advertising the department’s work and raising awareness of the importance of sustainable energy – and how easy it is to make sustainable lifestyle changes! Not only did I get to learn all about energy (shoutout to Julie and Angeliki who had to put up with a lot of questions from me), I also gained valuable media experience that later helped me get a job as a Community Engagement Assistant for King’s Careers & Employability. Volunteering is an incredibly valuable thing to have on your CV. Especially when it’s something you’re really passionate about.


Sustainable action in the King’s Community

Working with like-minded people is so fulfilling. I received great insight into other departments like labs which, as a philosophy student, I’ve never actually set foot in. However, I also got to interact more with my own department and contextualise sustainability within my studies. One of the highlights of my time as an SCA was interviewing one of my lecturers about the ethics of carbon offsetting. Having these conversations and forming these relationships made me feel more a part of King’s Community; something that’s really helped me during the pandemic.

It was also eye-opening to see sustainability in action on a more professional scale. King’s is a huge university that prioritises social impact, and as such takes serious action to be more sustainable. Learning about the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and how they’re used at King’s helped me get a better idea of how similar institutions operate and how best to incite change.


 Thinking about volunteering as a student?

Of course, volunteering can be pretty time-consuming. It’s important to consider how much of your time you can give. On average I dedicated about 2-3 hours a week for my SCA role, and that worked well for me. Balancing work, uni, volunteering, a social life and self-care is no easy feat! Always be sure to check in with yourself and listen to your body – don’t burn yourself out. That said, it’s much easier to dedicate time to something you’re truly passionate about. It also helps to find a way to link your passions to other things you’re already doing, such as your job or studies. If you’re wondering how to incorporate sustainability into your career, check out this Instagram post all about it. You can also explore Sector Guides from King’s Careers KEATS pages, to widen your research and get new ideas.


The final note

Overall, I’m really proud of my time as an SCA. It challenged my perspective on sustainability and allowed me to develop a lot of transferrable skills that I can use in all sorts of career paths. More than that, it was a great entry point for sustainability, unlike if I had jumped straight into a paid entry-level position. King’s has loads of great volunteering opportunities, and I’d encourage you to try something out. Alternatively, volunteer elsewhere in your local community! There’s absolutely no harm in helping others.


If you’d like to learn more about the SCA role and other sustainability volunteer opportunities, email or head over to the KCLSU website.