You know how we’re always telling you that ’employability’ and ‘transferable skills’ are the things to give you the edge in a competitive job market/get you the job you really want yadayadablahblah? Well here’s a recent Brighton graduate who discovered that for herself (and more besides). Sitting comfortably? We’ll begin…

Josephone Cadwallader-Thornewill
Photography by Stephanie Macuik 

Josie Cadwallader-Thornewill studied BEng Civil with Environmental Engineering, and MSc Sustainability of the Built Environment at Brighton. She’s since gone on to join Berkley Group as a  Sustainability Advisor, a post she’s held for the last two years.

Could you give us a brief description of your job?
I’m the first port of call for sustainability-related issues throughout the design, procurement, construction, and sale of all developments within Berkeley Southern. This includes monitoring and assessing our construction sites, to contributing to the sustainability commitments at a more strategic level.

How did you get there?
I saw the job advertised on environmentjobs website whilst I was coming to the end of my lectures in the final year of my masters. I was only about halfway through writing my dissertation, but thought it was a good opportunity to write my CV for the first time, and perhaps get my first interview!

I think my bachelors in Civil Engineering helped massively because it showed I would be able to appreciate the constraints on the construction industry, and not feel lost on a building site! I like that working for a property developer enables me to use many elements of my BEng and MSc, but as it has completely changed my lifestyle from when I was a student at Brighton!

Although I have less time to spend on hobbies and socializing… I get to visit amazing projects, have the freedom to arrange my own schedule, and develop ideas that aim to make Berkeley a world-class business. Who doesn’t want to work for the best?!

In what ways do you feel that your University of Brighton courses have enabled you to progress in your career so far?
I was very happy that I could personalize my degree and choose optional modules that suited what I was most interested in. Flexibility at the University at Brighton meant that I could take modules in my final year of my BEng that prepared me for my MSc. When I was in my interview, the interviewers were very interested in my dissertations. I didn’t appreciated at the time how important your dissertation is, but it gives a good indication of how committed you are (spending a long length of time and energy on one project shows motivation and self-management) and what area you would like to work in.

Did you undertake any work experience or paid/voluntary work or other extra curricular activities during your time at University of Brighton? How do you feel this has helped your career development?
I was a part of Carnival Collective, a live Drum & Bass orchestra in Brighton. Although not strictly ‘on-topic’, having something different to do helped me take some time out, I got to play at festivals around the UK including Glastonbury, and I got to meet lots of interesting people! Understanding how teams work, teaching people, and organizing events are transferable skills that I continue to use on a regular basis.

What are your plans/goals for the future?
Berkeley are very supportive in my continuous professional development, I have been able to attend many courses, and have recently graduated from their Talent Management Programme. In the next few months I will be studying for my entry exam into the Institute of Environmental Assessment and Management, which is the first step to full accreditation with an institutional body.

In the next couple of years I would like to become a Sustainability Manager at Berkeley Group, and to develop a team of Sustainability Advisors in the business that implement continual improvement. Longer term, I would like to be Head of Sustainability in a business within the construction industry. My main drivers are to feel like I can make a difference, to raise awareness of the Social, Economic, and Environmental impacts in the industry, and to facilitate innovation and change.

At Berkeley we do not just build homes but create places. We develop strong communities where people aspire to live and enjoy a great quality of life. We offer graduates opportunities across the entire property development cycle, explore our website to discover more about a graduate career at Berkeley.

If you’d like share your experience of working life after graduation, or what you did/are doing as a student to enhance your employability then get in touch at careers@brighton.ac.uk. We’d like to hear from you.