This month we hear from York alum Cass Hebron, a recent graduate of the University of York. She currently works as a Communications Officer at Friends of the Earth Europe and is based in Brussels. In 2020 Cass launched The Green Fix, an email newsletter full of free and accessible resources for climate activism. And in 2021, Cass became a Unite 2030 Youth Delegate.
What did you study at York and do you have a favourite memory from your time at York?
I studied BA English Language and Linguistics at York and graduated in 2019. It’s hard to pick one memory as my favourite. But the time I spent running Wild Magazine was amazing and the students who helped with the magazine were brilliant as team members and as friends. Another memorable moment was doing the Jailbreak challenge and making it to Austria.
What steps did you take to secure your current position?
I got involved with a few things at university that helped me in my career after uni. Running a magazine gave me great practical skills in communication and was a learning curve in the world of sustainability. During the summer, between my second and third year, I also did an internship through SIB (Student Internship Bureau) in Make It York, a branch of York City Council working on creative and digital industries in the city. This gave me good experience of what full-time working life was like, and afterwards, I was able to keep doing social media consultancy work for them on a part-time basis.
What’s your favourite aspect of your job?
The best part of my job is knowing that I’m working for a purpose-driven organisation that wants to create a greener and fairer world. Having the opportunity to help fight for climate justice is amazing. I’m committed to spending my career working for social and environmental causes.
Have there been any tough moments since leaving University?
Life after graduation is a stressful time no matter what you’re doing! For me personally, I moved at very short notice from York to Brussels for a 6-month traineeship at the Fair Trade Advocacy Office. While I was there, I developed a lot of personal and professional ties to Belgium. Meanwhile, politically, negotiations for Brexit were going very badly. The proposed Withdrawal Agreement (at the time) meant that British citizens living in the EU at the time that the transition period for Brexit ends, will retain their rights to live and work there. So only a few months after arriving for what was meant to be a short-term stay, I found myself having to decide whether to stay in Belgium for the indefinite future. This is a big decision to make at 22!
What gave you the idea/drive to start your blog ‘The Green Fix’
Two main things motivated me to start The Green Fix. First, I missed writing about sustainability in an easy-to-understand way. Talking about environmental issues in real-world terms – like Wild Magazine does. In my work in NGOs in Brussels, the work is focused on EU policies for climate justice. It’s really interesting but it can feel like a bubble, where most people working outside this sector don’t know about what’s happening at the political level.
I wanted to bridge that gap and reach people who aren’t in the ‘Brussels bubble’. Inform them and help everyone learn what they can do to make a difference! Individuals have so much more power to make a change beyond reusable bags, but there’s a lack of easily accessible information about what you can do. The Green Fix aims to be that point of reference.
You must be so busy juggling your work, newsletter and advocacy work. What do you like to do in your spare time to relax?
I’m working on learning French and Flemish (the two main languages of Belgium), which is a lot of fun. I also like exploring new towns in Belgium – when travel is possible – and visiting new places. During lockdown I’ve got back into reading and of course, watching Netflix.
Do you have any top tips for recent graduates of the University of York in terms of finding a job?
Throughout school, college and university we get told relentlessly how difficult it is to get a job, how competitive the market is, how much we should be doing to land a position. This is true, but we don’t get told how many opportunities are out there, and that hardly anyone spends their career doing the first thing they did out of university! Don’t be afraid to pursue your interests even if it doesn’t have an ‘obvious’ link to your career. Things you do for fun like blogging, volunteering and student societies, all show your passion and motivation. They make you a more interesting person and you will end up developing useful skills and connections along the way.
Cass will also be part of our professional panel for this month’s Professional Network event on sustainability which is virtual and free to attend. She is also happy to connect with people on LinkedIn and share resources for NGO work and other career tips.
Read more Alumni Voices.