A Career in Climate Change Regulation Analysis
Rasmus Valanko explains how a master's degree in politics, environment and globalization helped him enter his dream career in climate change regulation analysis.
Originally from Finland, Rasmus chose the UK's King's College London for his master's degree, after considering factors such as reputation and research strengths.
"Two things prompted me to apply for a master's," he says. "First, in Finland, they are the norm, so I needed one to be on the same level as other applicants in the job market.
"Second, my undergraduate degree was only a first step in helping me understand what I had a keen interest in. By continuing my studies I was able to shift the focus to an area of more interest while still maintaining the relevance of my previous studies."
Rasmus is now working as a climate change regulation analyst for Royal Dutch Shell.
"My position requires me to understand the political arena and the decision-making processes that lead to regulatory regimes with an impact on greenhouse gas emissions. With this understanding, I provide insights which help the company plan, prepare and prosper in a carbon-constrained world."
Another focus of Rasmus' work is Shell's advocacy in the climate change arena. "This involves coordinating Shell's policies and positions on topics such as emissions trading system design or carbon capture and storage demonstration programs," he says.
A major highlight of Rasmus' job is his access to information and experts in a field that is of personal and professional interest to him – he even works with a Nobel Peace Prize winner.
"My employer is fantastic. I am challenged to take responsibility and am also provided with support when I need it. You learn a lot by being constantly challenged to perform at a level slightly above your comfort zone."
Rasmus believes the experience he had as an intern during his master's program has helped him acquire the job he's currently in. But his internships with the Commission on Sustainable Development in the UK and in Finland also proved to be beneficial.
"I was able to secure funding for my master's thesis by choosing a topic that was relevant to an employer with which I wanted to carry out an internship. My advice for students is to do internships with prospective employers, even if it's not a course requirement. Funding avenues aren't always immediately apparent."
Rasmus first began researching universities six months before the fall start date for master's courses. His main criteria for choosing universities to apply to were the reputation, research agendas, staff biographies and publications and the amount of staff/student interaction.
"It was really important to me to get the most out of the university's intellectual capital and so a degree based on frequent interaction with lecturers and a structured lecture schedule was key."
"University life was rewarding for a number of reasons," Rasmus says. "First, the possibility for interaction with people who share similar interests. Second, the intellectual challenge and associated resources available to pursue knowledge, and finally the autonomy."
Rasmus would encourage others to study for a master's to further their career options as well as exploring a related but new area of knowledge, in addition to their undergraduate degree. And he may be biased, but he'd also encourage others to work in the same area as he does.
"It's a growing field that has already expanded to offer multiple and varied opportunities in both the public and private sectors. The topics have a high degree of public relevance and interest, they're complex, they're challenging and this will only increase."
"Lastly, the work has an idealist component which gives you the satisfaction of going home at the end of the day, knowing you are doing something to improve the future prospects of the generations that will follow."
This article was originally published in October 2012 . It was last updated in September 2021