Fay graduated with a Geography BSc from RHUL. She is now an environmental scientist and consultant.
What Fay says:
“My work mainly involves mining approvals; environmental impact approvals called PERs (public environmental reviews) for large mining companies such as Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton. These are typically $250,000 jobs over the course of a year or so (the company I work for gets that money – not me!). I also do smaller projects such as ‘environmental opportunities and constraints assessments’ of development lots (blocks of land), forestry projects such as ‘mallee production land capability assessments’, planning approvals, wetland re-classification applications, a bit of marketing/seeing new clients, lots of client liaison, project management and some site assessment field work. The best things about the job are the variety and salary. The worst thing is the pressure and tight deadlines; you need to be able to do 10 things at once and still maintain a professional client interface – arghhh!
“Get experience quickly. My first job after graduation was as a GIS technician in the UK, as all environmental jobs required experience. I then did a local government GIS role followed by 6 months at a careers centre whilst I was saving for my flight to Oz (I’m an Australian citizen – dual nationality UK and Australian). My first job in Australia was for the Department of Water as an Environment Officer. I then moved to be a Communications Officer in the Department of Environment and Conservation followed by various short-term government contracts as a GIS technician. The Geography degree has prepared me really well for this work, the main thing in Australia was the prestige of University of London. The field work is also a great discussion topic at interviews so make sure you emphasise this. I haven’t needed any postgraduate qualifications, but I have completed lots of external training courses paid for by employers such as advanced GIS, environmental assessment, 4-wheel drive training and aboriginal heritage training. So my advice for anybody else wanting to get into this area is that you need experience, so get as much as you can and be prepared to start at the bottom and work up; even if you feel you know it all as a graduate. Environmental consultancies often want someone with other transferable work experience and skills such as GIS and engineering.”
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"You need experience, so get as much as you can and be prepared to start at the bottom and work up"