Because of Covid-19, we replaced this semester’s program by an online version. On our blog, you find lots of interesting reads and videos. Enjoy!

Interview with Eline

28 April 2020

Name: Eline De Witte
Project: Ecosia on Campus

Hi there, could you quickly introduce yourself?  

I’m Eline, I’m in the first year of my masters clinical psychology (option children and teens). I’ve been interested in sustainability for a very long time and I love nature but occasionally I manage to kill the plants in my dorm. (Especially now during lockdown. They are all by themselves ☹ ).

How did you learn about the Green Office and about becoming a project manager? 

I learned about the Green Office about two years ago via Facebook and I remember being impressed by their projects, but I didn’t interact with the Green Office for a long time. Then last summer I saw a blogpost from Ecosia talking about students who convince their universities to switch to Ecosia. I forwarded this post to Green Office and asked if they’d like to do something with it.

The answer was: ‘Yes, and you should be the one doing it!’ I went to Leuven to discuss the whole thing and, voila, I was a project manager… For me, it was a rather unexpected – but awesome – opportunity! 😊 

Could you briefly explain your project?

Ecosia is a search engine that plants trees when you surf the web. They donate 80% of their profits to tree planting projects. ‘Ecosia on Campus’ aims to convince the university to use Ecosia as a default browser on the computers available to students in the libraries. We also want students to download it on their laptops and computers – If you haven’t downloaded it yet, use this link: ecosia.co/kuleuven.

What does the life of a project manager at the Green Office look like?

First of all, you’re part of the central team of the Green Office. We have meetings once a month/every 2 weeks about the functioning of the Green Office and events that are relevant to everyone, like the sustainability week. Next to that, you have weekly meetings with your own team, for me the ‘Ecosia on campus’ team. Several volunteers helped to make ‘Ecosia on Campus’ happen. Here we discuss what events we’d like to do and divide tasks. Next time we discuss our progress on those tasks. As a project manager, you have to make sure everyone is up to date and participates in the meetings.

And lastly, you work on the Ecosia on Campus campaign. This means emailing people, booking rooms, organising events, having a phone call… The work varies every week and depends on your project (and what is discussed in the meeting) but you will for sure be contacting a lot of people!

Be aware that a lot of time goes into coordination and making sure everyone is up to date! This takes about 8 hours per week.

What support do you receive from the Green Office? 

Most importantly: every semester new volunteers can choose what project they’d like to help on. They put in about 3-4 hours per week and this crucial! I couldn’t have organised everything by myself and it was much more fun this way. 😊

Secondly, the Green Office provides a (very beautiful) space to hold meetings and events and a budget for each project. With that budget we are able to organise nice events and have free drinks at our receptions. We handed out free cactuses for students who downloaded Ecosia for example. I also get paid 4 hours per week but I work about 8 hours.

What have you learned from being a project manager and how was your overall experience?

I have a lot of experience now with holding meetings, I organised a lecture, talked to the university… I learned not to be afraid to contact new people and companies. It was interesting to see how events are organised. It looks way easier on the outside. I learned it takes a lot of time to organise a lecture for example and that there is a lot to it. However, when the day of the lecture is finally there, it is very rewarding.

I also learned about sustainability but mostly I learned project management skills. It is lovely though to be surrounded by like-minded people who know nice second-hand shops and cool sustainable companies etc. During a member event with pizza, we had an expert on climate change. I definitely learned some new things there.

Any last tips for potential new project manager? 

Just do it! You’ll learn so much and meet amazing people!

Interested in proposing your own project?

We organize a brainstorm. Welcome!