Environmental Planner – WSP
Jason Chan developed a unique set of hybrid skills through a combined degree at UNSW. The skills he acquired through his undergraduate degree have enabled him to make a tangible environmental impact through his work in environmental planning for an engineering firm.
While studying ecology at UNSW, he was able to work with world-class scientists saving species that were under threat.
We spoke to Jason about where his degree has taken him and why he believes you should follow your passion in life.
Working in the environmental planning team for an engineering firm means I’m always doing something good for society, whether it’s improving the quality of life for the community or improving the environmental conditions. My role allows me to find ways to maximise environmental outcomes or minimise the environmental risks for different infrastructure projects. I get a lot of daily satisfaction from the projects I’m involved in.
It was the industry collaborations UNSW had that first attracted my attention. UNSW has a strong focus on industry collaborations with plenty of opportunities for students to network and develop essential skills for their career. UNSW is also the only place I could study a combined degree in science and business. The combined nature of this degree meant I could major in ecology while developing business management and marketing skills. I chose to study ecology due to the challenges from climate change and urbanisation, putting the Australian environment at huge risk. During my degree, I got to work with world-class scientists to help save some of the most threatened species in Australia.
During my study, I stayed at Warrane College, a residential college on campus. The whole college experience was the most valuable thing I took away from my time at UNSW, whether it’s the friendships I’ve made or attending different college events. It all helped me grow and shaped who I am as a person.
I did a course on Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) in my third year. I was able to apply everything I’d learned in that course to my current role today, from report writing skills to navigating through complex environmental legislation.
The courses I did included a lot of field trips that helped me understand how to conduct field surveys. This has been really helpful in my current role as I coordinate with environmental specialists who spend time in the field collecting data.
My degree helped me discover what I wanted to do in my career. I started ecology wanting to pursue a career in reptile conservation, a very specialised field. Studying ecology broadened my horizons and taught me a lot about other environmental aspects. I was able to develop a more comprehensive understanding of the environment and look at things with a more holistic view. As a result, I decided to pursue a career as an environmental planner, where I look at things on a higher level.
Follow your passion! There’s nothing worse than studying something you don’t enjoy. Study something you’re passionate about. Science degrees aren’t just for researchers. The critical thinking mindset you develop studying science will take you far in life!