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Sophia Sharma

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My Story
Sophia Sharma

Business and Commercial Graduate Trainee, Veolia

Where are you now?

I have started a job with Veolia as a business and commercial graduate trainee. I have 3 placements for 2 years, and my first placement is in Dublin. I am working in the legal department in the energy sector. I will move into different departments each 8-month period.

How did you get there?

In studying environmental law at Queen’s under Mary Dobbs, I was able to write a paper in waste management and have it published. I realised from my studies that I wanted to pursue a career in waste and recycling. I gained insight into the sector through placements with the Belfast City Council and ‘Bryson Recycling’.  I also had some work experience with a solar panel company whereby the Director informed me of the opportunities with Veolia.

I think that using personal contacts, being friendly when meeting people and confidently talking to them about your aspirations is key to bringing about the goals that you have. You never know if somebody has a contact, I was in a Mediation meeting and this is how I gained one of my important contacts that lead to an internship.

I was determined to work in waste and recycling and I used this passion to get through the stages of the Veolia interviews. First there is an application, then a phone interview, various aptitude assessments and finally an assessment day in Wolverhampton. I found that because I was involved with many activities such as being Charity Officer of the Law Society while in university and being an ‘Airbnb’ host, I had many examples to talk about during my hour-long competency interview. 

Making use of Careers, Employability and Skills

I used the careers appointments to help with my interview skills and CV. This was incredibly helpful as I was not well informed about interviews and assessment days and the staff gave me amazing support with regards to my many, MANY questions. I met with them about 5 times before my assessment day with Veolia, as the application had several different stages.

During my studies, I had the opportunity to study in Shantou University in China for a semester. I believe this really helped in my skills (mandarin), and also it is something noteworthy to talk about with prospective employers. In addition, studying abroad demonstrates skills such as flexibility, agility to work in a dynamic environment. Nowadays, if you can do anything somewhat different it may help you be highlighted when going through the countless CVs.

Advice for current Queen's students

Do as many extra-curricular activities as possible, like team sports etc., and if possible try to work out what you want to do. I took 1 ½ year to follow my passion and I am very pleased that I did. It is only when you are young that it is somewhat feasible to do an internship (even if it is for a week it is amazing the contacts and knowledge you gain).

Also use the most with regards to advice, talk to lecturers, talk to people in the field, just call them up and ask random questions, and when you do get that interview use the student guidance centre for help. They really helped me, also simple things, such as calming me down.

I would advise that people follow their desires, regardless of their degree, and if possible go into an area that serves humanity and the environment as we are only here for a short amount of time so we might as well leave a positive mark on the planet.

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