Interview by Emily Swaddle, working on Alumni Engagement at rootAbility
Who is Floor?
Floor van den Elzen is a big name in the Dutch student sustainability scene. Whilst getting her Master’s degree in Sustainable Development: Environmental Governance at Utrecht University, Floor was on the board of the national student sustainability network Studenten voor Morgen, she volunteered with rootAbility, she was listed in the Duurzame Jonge 100 (Sustainable Youth) for 2016, and, of course, she worked at the Green Office Utrecht. After starting in January 2015 as Living Lab Coordinator she continued as Assistant Manager in the spring of the following year.
What is she doing now?
Floor has worked as a trainee at True Price, a social enterprise based in Amsterdam, since October 2017. The company works to monetise environmental and social externalities for a variety of clients, from big name corporations to NGOs and SMEs around the world. Companies come to True Price for research, recommendations and reports to improve their processes, to ensure they are meeting the criteria of their CSR policy, and to be more transparent. As a trainee, Floor works with the team on a variety of projects while learning about the processes of the company. She is even working on a project with GO VU in Amsterdam, an opportunity that was offered to Floor thanks to her experience at GO Utrecht:
“Green Offices come up where you wouldn’t expect them!”
How was the transition from the GO to the working world?
After leaving the GOU, Floor spent a year carrying out research in India, writing a thesis, graduating from her Master’s degree and traveling some more before starting at True Price. She claims that a lot of her confidence in job hunting was thanks to the skills she developed in the “safe space” of the GO. In her position as Living Lab Coordinator, she had to meet with a lot of staff members from a variety of disciplines. Although she felt a little insecure at first, she learnt to see the staff members as colleagues and peers that need to be persuaded, just as students do. This proved to be valuable experience for her current position at True Price where she has frequent contact with important actors from external parties.
Looking back, was her time at the GO professionally valuable?
Floor gives the Green Office a lot of credit for the development of many of her professional skills including organisational and admin skills.
“I got so organised at the GOU – I didn’t know I had it in me.”
She mentions several times that the GOU acted as something of a learning ground, a place where it was okay to make mistakes and ask questions. That environment nurtured Floor’s confidence not just in her own abilities and her sustainability beliefs but also in her position within the movement:
“Networking skills seemed important but also intimidating. But the GOU helped me realise that I have something to offer as a fresh young enthusiast!”
Floor continues to be involved in the GO Movement by supporting initiatives who want to set up Green Offices internationally.
Any advice to past Floor working in the GO?
“Ask questions – it makes you look smart!”
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