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Emma Forrest (BSc Human Geography 2010)


In a nutshell, I 'discovered' Corporate Social Responsibility in my final year at Reading and it instantly appealed to me. After graduating, I took a break to travel and volunteer around the world then came home to start a career doing something that could make a real difference. I've held a variety of positions in sustainability-orientated organisations and each role has allowed me to use my humanities background in a positive way.

Why did you choose to study at the University of Reading?

I've always aimed high and spotted that Reading was at the top of the subject tables for Human Geography. Visiting the campus then sealed the deal: it is green and relaxing, it had a brilliant student union and, most of all, it felt like a home away from home.

What was the best bit about living and studying in Reading?

The campus was a stone's throw away from where we lived - giving it a cosy feel as well as making it very easy to get around. The sheer variety of clubs and societies open for members was staggering. I was (in no particular order) part of Inline Hockey, RAGS, GeogSoc and the Wine Society..!

What top tips would you give to students who are beginning their studies?

1. Get organised and don't miss a lecture if you can help it! 2. Get involved/volunteer in everything you can. So many weird and wonderful doors are open to you at university - so get stuck in! 3. Enjoy yourself - these years won't necessarily come round again.

What are you up to now? How did you get there?

I am Corporate Client Executive at the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) and it is my job to help companies give more effectively to charity and on a larger scale, support them in their wider community investment, CSR and sustainability strategies. The role is busy but varied and it is great to see what organisations are doing to be more values-driven - if I have learnt one thing, it is that there is no defined route for a company to become more 'ethical' or 'green' - whichever word they use to describe their aims.

What would be your top tips for students interested in working in this sector?

Get internships, placements and volunteer. I secured placements and took the 'on the job' route which has been invaluable. Countless people have a masters in Sustainability or CSR and whilst they are great to have, time and time again it is those with the practical experience that are noticed. Also, give yourself a pat on the back - you're about to take a step into a sector that is making a positive and now tangible change to every aspect of business and society.

How has the University of Reading and the Careers Centre helped in your chosen career path?

The Careers advisers were on hand to offer advice when I needed it and helped to point me in the right direction.

What are your top tips for students graduating this year? What should they be doing to secure the job they want?

I could give a list as long as my arm, however, my main tip for imminent graduates is to work tirelessly to get as much experience in your chosen field as possible. Give yourself that extra something that'll make your CV stand out. Too many students that don't know what they want to do simply give up - try something/anything and if that role isn't for you then try something else! You'll hit the jackpot one way or another - even if it is completely different to that which you set out to do!

Why did you decide to give to the University of Reading?

Having spent some of the best years of my life living in the 'Ding, it was a no brainer to support current projects and once I'd heard about the campus cycling sustainability project I knew I had to get involved. It lines up so well with my values and it is wonderful to be contributing to the future of the university.

What does the University mean to you and what is your favourite memory?

More than I can say! I arrived keen to study and meet new people; I left with a First and with some of the best friends a person could wish for. I have so, so many fond memories that it is impossible to whittle down to just one - but I can guarantee they all involved a night out, good company and laughing so hard I cried!

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