Graduating in Environmental Sciences: What’s Next?

16.11.16

When it comes to graduating from university, we all ask ourselves that same question…what’s next?

Katie Bird, Graduate Ecologist
Katie Bird, Graduate Ecologist

I graduated from Bangor University 6 months ago with a Master’s degree in Environmental Management. The course took me on an educational roller-coaster, developing skills that I could apply within the laboratory and in the environmental analysis field.

Part of my degree included completion of a 6 week professional placement, allowing me to gain an understanding of the processes within an environmental organisation. After a gruelling application process to several environmental consultancies, my hard work paid off and I was offered a placement at REC. At this point I was unsure which path I wanted to take career-wise, so the placement was an invaluable insight into a world outside of university.

Within my placement at REC, I worked across multiple disciplines, including Ecology, Acoustics, Air Quality and Geo-Environmental Services – giving me a solid foundation to move into consultancy. The team at REC couldn’t have been more helpful and I really valued the fact I was being treated as one of the REC staff; socially and at work. The atmosphere and work ethic amongst my colleagues was naturally enticing, and working alongside so many strong female role models (within an industry that is so often male dominated) was also particularly inspiring.

6 months down the line and I’m elated to say that I’ve been working at REC as a Graduate Ecologist. They offered me the job before I even graduated, which was such a boost in the dark days of doing my final dissertation (any university graduate will know the feeling). I felt so lucky to have been offered the opportunity to continue at REC – like many industries it is so competitive and the knock backs…Well I’ve lost count! Even with all the experience it’s still a real struggle to get your foot in the door unless you know somebody.

Having being through the stressful process of being a graduate and surviving to tell the tale, I can assure you that the hard work will pay off – but you have to be eager and willing. If you’re interested in a certain sector or consultancy, reach out to them early and get networking whilst still at university. Show an interest in and around your subject and career, and it will be less likely that you will be waiting around for opportunities. Instead, you will be creating your own.

If Ecology is your future, gaining experience early is essential as the best time for surveys is between March and October. Flexibility is also a must – you may be required to spend nights away on site far from home, for example. However, on the plus side, you’re out away from the office, and you get a free dinner!