I gained a breadth of skills that are essential for most jobs

Graduate Aamir Khan standing outside the Geography Dept
Aamir Khan
Project Officer at Science Based Targets initiative
Geography BSc
Aamir discusses how his degree and voluntary work at Sheffield led to his current role setting sustainability targets for the construction industry.

Where do you currently work and what is your role?

I currently work for the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), a partnership between CDP, the United Nations Global Compact, World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). The SBTi drives ambitious climate action in the private sector by enabling organisations to set science-based emissions reduction targets.

My role at the SBTi is Project Officer for the Cement, Steel and Buildings projects - these projects aim to develop 1.5C aligned pathways for companies in these sectors to follow to align with the Paris Agreement goals.

Why did you choose to study Geography at the University of Sheffield?

I really enjoyed studying geography at college, particularly the physical aspects, so it was the natural choice for university. The subject is so broad and covers everything from climate change to the post colonial world, so you can really specialise and gain such a unique set of skills.

I had offers from top London universities but I chose Sheffield because I was so impressed at the open day and enjoyed my time in Sheffield a lot! I found the School was really supportive and the research truly captivating.

What has your career path been since graduation?

I worked at Santander straight out of uni and then on the project management team of an EU-funded scheme to improve refugee integration in Sheffield. This role influenced me greatly and I then moved to London in July 2019 to work as a PA to the CEO of a charity that supports disabled adults. I also worked on the research and intelligence team for an Executive search firm operating in the third sector.

Following these roles, I moved directly into the environmental space, going on to work for Friends of the Earth and then Hampshire County Council on their climate emergency projects before moving to the SBTi last year.

What key skills did you develop on the course that you use in your career?

Studying geography was very useful. I gained a breadth of skills that are essential for most jobs in the modern world, such as strong IT, interpersonal and analytical skills. It also helped to widen my thinking and made me more receptive to different opportunities such as auditing for Green Impact at uni. Employers really value a varied and broad degree.

Which aspects of the course did you particularly enjoy?

I really enjoyed the variety the course had to offer, from meteorology to looking at how permafrost functions on the Tibetan Plateau at a more granular level. The field trips out to the Peak District were also a highlight and I often still hike around the area. Forging new relationships through uni was really enjoyable and I am still very much in touch with friends I met years ago at Sheffield.

What key advice would you give people considering applying for the course?

I would say to definitely try and attend an open day and explore the uni and city - ask all the questions you can think of! To new students, my number one tip would be to get involved with as much as possible and volunteer if you have spare time. Drawing on my voluntary and work experience has been key to my success so far. Make sure to keep an eye out for the opportunities that are circulated via email and if you can do a placement year or a term/year abroad - I regret not doing this since I think it would be incredibly useful and help to prepare you for life after uni better.

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