Sarah Jessop, UK Operations manager at Frontier / The Society for Environmental Exploration, gives us an insight into how a background in Zoology and Animal Behaviour led to a career behind-the-scenes in conservation.
- How did you get into a career in conservation?
I first became interested in conservation during my 3 months volunteering at a wildlife rehabilitation centre in South Africa on my gap year. I saw the negative impacts that human-wildlife conflict was having on the wildlife and also on the local communities in the area. I worked at a small animal rehabilitation centre who worked tirelessly to care for injured and orphaned animals and also to try and educate the local community to help with conservation efforts.
My interest was strengthened during my Undergraduate degree in Zoology and Masters in Animal Behaviour at the University of Exeter, as much of the focus was on conservation and sustainability.
During this time I was also working part time at a local fish restaurant who were very keen to make themselves as sustainable as possible. I helped to set up a team that worked to change old processes, search for local, sustainable suppliers and produce, and to try and reduce the carbon footprint of the business as much as possible.
After moving to London and applying (unsuccessfully) for a Volunteer Coordinator position at Frontier as well as many other jobs in the third sector, I became an Intern for the Marine Stewardship Council helping with their Outreach and Certification programme. This gave me a great insight in to working in an office environment and provided me with many of the skills that I think helped me to get the Volunteer Coordinator role that I had previously applied for!
- What does your job involve?
I am now the UK Operations Manager at Frontier. The UK Operations team is responsible for the coordination of our volunteers on both the Group and Partner Projects. The role is so varied on a day to day basis that it’s difficult to say exactly what I do every day. As the coordinator for our Partner Projects, I liaise with our partners to make sure that all of our volunteers are booked on to their projects and that the whole process runs smoothly for the volunteers. A lot of time is spent answering the emails and phone calls of our volunteers to provide advice and information about their projects.
Having great customer service skills often come in extremely handy in this role but you also need to be able to work on multiple tasks, with different deadlines. Another fun aspect of my role is the development of new projects, which requires research skills to find new projects, negotiation skills when talking about pricing and good writing skills for putting together the information for our website.
- What are your top tips for graduates wanting to get a job in conservation?
- The world of conservation can be extremely competitive but have patience and do not give up!
- Remember that transferable skills will always help, even if you don’t think that they are necessarily relevant to a job that you are applying for.
- Try to get involved with as many volunteering opportunities/internships as possible (if you can); the more skills you can pick up along the way, the better.
Frontier/ The Society for Environmental Exploration are a non-profit conservation and development non-governmental organisation (NGO), whose mission is to safeguard biodiversity, build sustainable livelihoods and inspire young and old to make their travel meaningful. They operate over 330 capacity building conservation, community and adventure projects in over 60 countries spanning 5 continents.
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