Finn Howley is almost six months into our Graduate Scheme. Here, he shares with us his experience of his first two placements, both roles supporting the decarbonisation of buildings across Scotland.
What were your reasons for applying to the graduate scheme? What attracted you to Changeworks?
The graduate scheme seemed like a great opportunity to get experience in the environmental/renewable energy sector. Coming from a social science background, I was delighted to see that the scheme was open to all graduates, not just those with natural science degrees.
Finally, I was drawn to Changeworks’ values and commitment to addressing the climate crisis.
What roles have you undertaken in your time so far? Tell us about them and the sort of work you’ve been doing as part of the team.
I’ve worked with both the CARES (Community and Renewable Energy Scheme) and Project Management teams.
CARES helps community groups generate their own renewable energy and decarbonise their community buildings. My role included providing benchmark costs for different renewable technologies across Scotland, a large data migration task, and drafting and testing a guidance document for the new applicant portal. I also attended outreach events in local communities.
My second placement is with the Project Management team, which delivers large home energy efficiency projects on behalf of local councils. So far I’ve provided administrative support to these projects, through data entry and reporting.
Right now is an exciting but challenging time in the home energy efficiency space. What have you learnt during the graduate scheme so far on the challenges Scotland faces to meet its net zero targets?
There’s the sheer scale of the challenge Scotland faces in meeting its ambitious net zero targets. At its current rate, Scotland risks missing these targets. It has been eye-opening to learn that heating accounts for such a significant proportion of the country’s carbon emissions, and that improving the energy efficiency of buildings is central to reaching net zero. Organisations like Changeworks play an important role in bridging the gap between setting these targets and actually achieving them.
What other teams and roles are you looking forward to taking on during your time at Changeworks?
In my current role I am looking forward to working alongside project managers. I hope to get a better sense of the work that goes into managing large energy efficiency projects such as the EES:ABS (Energy Efficient Scotland: Area Based Schemes). I am also very excited for my remaining placements in both the strategy department and the consultancy team, and am keen to gain more experience in these areas of the organisation.
Has working at Changeworks given you food for thought when it comes to your future career choices?
My short time with Changeworks has affirmed my desire to work in the environmental sector. I have learned a huge amount about energy efficiency, renewable heating and decarbonising buildings, and am excited to learn more. Working here has sparked my curiosity about policy making, environmental regulation and energy markets on an even larger scale.
Would you recommend graduates applying for next scheme?
I would certainly encourage graduates from all academic backgrounds with an interest in climate change and sustainability to apply. You’ll gain professional experience in the environmental sector and learn so much about energy efficiency, decarbonisation, and how these connect with fuel poverty and social inequality. What’s more, Changeworks has a great culture. It’s a pleasure to have colleagues who are so genuinely passionate about addressing the climate and energy crisis.