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“You are working with the most amazing, passionate and hardworking people who want to improve the lives of others” – Nell Macdonald on what it’s like to work for Planet Ark

People find amazing jobs on EthicalJobs.com.au every day. This is part of a series of blog posts that go behind the scenes to meet some of the people and organisations finding each other through EthicalJobs.com.au.

Today’s story is from Nell Macdonald who found her job as Programs Development Manager at Planet Ark on EthicalJobs.com.au.

Established in 1992, Planet Ark is one of Australia’s leading environmental behaviour change organisations with a focus on working collaboratively and positively to help people, governments and businesses reduce their impact on the environment.

Starting out with work

My first ever official paid job (discounting babysitting and my very own ‘pet sitting’ business) was working at Myer in their Miss Shop department.

After that I studied a Bachelor of Environmental Science and a Diploma of Education. I’ve always had a love for the environment and nature which led me down the environmental path right out of school.

Both these degrees have contributed to my knowledge of how to communicate environmental issuesto different sections of the community. My end goal was to work in environmental community educationand the combination of skills and knowledge I gained through both these courses helped me land a role in Australia’s leading environmental behaviour organisation, Planet Ark.

I have worked in a variety of roles in both an environmental and education capacity. Straight out of uni I worked at a solar energy company before moving on to roles working with environmental and quality management systems in corporate and utility companies.

My search for my ‘dream job’ in environmental education led me to do my diploma of education and I then worked as a teacher for a year before moving to London.

The most recent role before Planet Ark was also for another environmental not-for-profit which raised funds to care for London’s beautiful Royal Parks. My role was to manage the program of community events throughout Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens.

Working at Planet Ark

Planet Ark’s aim is to encourage everyone to take positive environmental actions. We work with all sections of the community; schools, government, corporates and individuals to provide them with clear, positive environmental actions to lessen their impact on the Earth.

I was drawn to a position at Planet Ark as their aim is to work collaboratively and in partnership with others in order to create meaningful change and I believe this is where real and lasting behaviour change can occur. I also have really fond memories of the Planet Ark brand from when I was a kid so that contributed to my wanting to be a part of the great work they do.

As Planet Ark’s Program Development Manager my responsibility – along with my team – is to determine the feasibility and suitability of new programs, engage stakeholders and trial and launch new programs.

As I work across so many programs, my role is really varied which keeps things interesting and fun! One day I might be meeting with coffee roasters to discuss how they can collect their coffee ground waste and the next day I might be working with the team to workshop creative ideas to develop exciting new programs like our National Circular Economy Hub.

I am lucky enough to be able to get out and speak with a wide range of inspiring people, from corporates and governments to community groups and universities, all working to build a more sustainable future.

I was invited to be on the panel of the Sydney Science Week event at the Australian Museum last yearto speak with school students about how a career in science can open doors to a whole range of careers beyond the lab. As an ex-science teacher it was so rewarding to be able to speak to high school students and have them see a career path that they may not have otherwise know is available to them if they choose to do a science degree.

I have always known and loved Planet Ark as an organisation since I was a kid. Years ago I volunteered at the Newtown festival alongside Planet Ark staff and since then I had in my mind that it would be a great organisation to work for.

Why work for a better world?

I wanted to feel good about going to work in the morning and I know I can do that working for not-for-profits, especially in an area I am passionate about. The supportive and collaborative nature of working in a not-for-profit is also a big draw card for me. Generally you are working with the most amazing, passionate and hardworking people who want to work to improve the lives of others and that makes for a very rewarding career surrounded by great people.

My road to my current role has included rejections and set backs. If you know where you want to be, keep pushing to get there. Eventually your hard work and determination to work for an organisation you care about will be recognised and you’ll land your perfect role.

I think you cant overestimate the power of volunteering. It is so important when working for a not for profit that you have a passion for the cause and volunteering is a perfect was to show that passion.

Also, and I think most importantly, make sure you are seeking a role in an area you are passionate about. The reality of working for a not for profit is that you won’t earn as much as your corporate friends. Make sure the cause means something to you and understand the tangible impacts of the organisation you are looking to apply for – if you are working for a organisation you truly believe in and you can see the difference you’re making, it’s all worth it!

Thanks for your story Nell!

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