Is a green career for you?

Lent Term: Cambridge Zero offers a careers festival, a climate innovation challenge, free climate training and paid summer positions.

By Ellie Austin

2023 Future Leaders Programme in action


Cambridge Zero kicks off Lent Term 2024 with a packed calendar of competitions, training, industry networking, career panels, and application openings for professional summer placement opportunities.

Climate Challenge 2024: Nature

Are you interested in climate change and want to give entrepreneurship a try? Want to develop your ideas and be in with a chance of winning a £1500 cash prize

Cambridge Zero’s Climate Challenge is an annual entrepreneurship training programme and competition for climate-interested postgrads and postdocs at the University of Cambridge. This year’s theme is nature

Free weekly training sessions will teach early career researchers about effective storytelling, voluntary carbon markets, intellectual property rights, pitching their ideas, and more. 

To win the competition, participants form small teams of 2-3 (which can be formed in the initial sessions of the programme, facilitated by the pizza and pub socials!) to propose scalable solutions to climate change

Shortlisted teams will pitch their ideas to our expert panel of judges at the final, where the winning team will receive a £1500 cash prize and the two runner-up teams will receive a £750 cash prize. 

Last year’s competition, themed “just decarbonisation”, winners proposed an “elegant” solution to use algae to tackle methane emissions in the Global South, which had the additional benefits of supporting local communities while mitigating a lack of alternative landfill solutions. 

“The climate challenge was one of the most exciting and well-organised events I got to attend during my four years at Cambridge”Tristan Spreng, 2023 Climate Challenge Winner

Following the launch on January 19th, there’s still time to get involved! The next session is an Ideas Jam on Wednesday 24 January 4:30-6pm, Seminar Room, Old Cavendish East. Come along to chat enterprise ideas, socialise with fellow students, and get inspired! 

The deadline for forming teams and developing a concept is Thursday 15 February 11:59pm.

If you’re interested in taking part, sign-up to the Climate Challenge 2024 mailing list here, and you can find the full Climate Challenge programme and competition details here.

2024 Climate Challenge Launch

2023 Climate Challenge Pub Social

Green Careers Festival

Want to make an impact with your career? Curious to know what options are out there for you after graduation?

The Green Careers Festival, run by the University Careers Service in collaboration with Cambridge Zero over two weeks starting 29 January, brings students and recent graduates together with sustainability and environment-related organisations to discover potential career paths and job roles.

The Festival kicks off with the Green Careers Fair on January 29th. This year’s Fair will feature employers working across the voluntary carbon market, cleantech innovations in power, transport, waste, industry and building sectors, renewable energy design and distribution, alternative protein (insects!) production and more.

The Festival welcomes students and recent graduates from all disciplines to explore the wide variety of career opportunities available in climate and sustainability, regardless of your area of study or academic background.

Across the following two weeks, panel events will hear from industry experts on topics such as “becoming a sustainability consultant without a STEM degree”, “thinking critically about employers in the sustainability sector” and “greening the built environment.”

“We want to inspire Cambridge graduates to be future leaders in a changing world.”Dr Amy Munro-Faure, Cambridge Zero Head of Education and Student Engagement

The Festival will run from 29 January to 9 February 2024. See the full programme of events here, and make sure to save yourself a spot through the event links.

blue, green, and yellow world map

Photo by Andrew Stutesman on Unsplash

Future Leaders Programme 2024

Looking for an opportunity to explore a green career for the summer?

The Cambridge Zero Future Leaders Programme encourages students and recent graduates to try out green careers and contribute to the University’s efforts to tackle climate change.

The programme opens for applications from 29 January until 11 March, and will run for eight weeks over the summer between July and September.

Over the summer each Future Leader is tasked with planning and conducting their own projects and presenting their findings at the end of programme symposium.

Last year’s projects ranged from agricultural research in the Cambridgeshire Fens to communicating the University’s climate research through press releases and website features.

“The most significant personal growth has been my realisation of where I could see myself in the future.”Edison Wan, 2023 Future Leaders Programme

Roles are available for current or recent undergraduates this summer, paid at real living wage. To read more on last year’s programme, see here.

Applications open from the first day of the Green Careers Festival, during the Green Careers Fair. Interested students can speak to us about the programme at our stall, or hear more via our student mailing list.

Image credit: Beth Simpson

Image credit: Neil Mahon

Climate Qualifications

Looking for professional climate and sustainability training to bolster your CV?

The student-run Cambridge Hub, funded by Cambridge Zero, will be running two student programmes:

  • Free carbon literacy training

Cambridge Hub are running a formal training course in the climate crisis, greenhouse emissions and climate action with the Cambridge Carbon Literacy Project.

Upon completion you will receive an internationally recognised qualification to show to employers and peers.

The first session begins 9 February, and you can sign-up to the programme here.

  • Engage for Change

Eager to get involved in climate action but not sure where to start?

Engage for Change is an 8-week training programme on climate action. Students are guided to enact individual sustainability projects across the University, alongside weekly training sessions on topics from sustainability in practice to project management.

Previous projects have included switching from single-use plastic to re-usable Tupperware and minimising food waste in College dining halls.

Keep an eye out for sign-up openings for their Easter cohort, and the progress of their Lent cohort, on their social media and website.

Interested students can keep up to date with these and other opportunities with Cambridge Zero via our student mailing list.

Published 22 January 2024

Images: Ellie Austin, unless otherwise stated.

The text in this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Read more Cambridge climate news

Cambridge Zero is the University of Cambridge’s ambitious climate change initiative, harnessing the power of research to tackle climate change at one of the top global research universities in the world.