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Michael Cheesman

Graduated with an MSci in Physics in 2011

MichaelCheesmanJob title: Acoustic Signature Analyst at QinetiQ (Maritime division)

Industry: Defence

Career Progression  

It really started in my penultimate year at Royal Holloway -  the Physics department joined SEPnet that year so I applied for an internship with QinetiQ and was fortunate enough to be accepted.

As soon as my final year began I started to apply for graduate jobs. Thanks to the experience I’d gained, I had a job offer before I finished my degree. Since then, I’ve been on QinetiQ’s graduate scheme, going on courses with the other graduates and training on the job.

What do you do on an average day?

My job involves analysing the acoustic signatures of Royal Navy vessels - we range them overnight (sometimes up to six nights straight!) then analyse the data and write reports.

My work tends to be fairly varied; if I’m working on trials I won’t get into work until half past four in the afternoon (though I don’t leave it again until half past seven the next morning) Otherwise I’ll arrive in the morning, check my e-mails, plan my day - I might be doing analysis from a trial, writing reports, going to brief a ship, working on a noise study - different each day.

Added to that I’ve also got myself involved with QinetiQ’s graduate network, known as Cortex, taking up the role of lead for the small sites (all 40 something of them). It’s given me the chance to get experience in things I wouldn’t through my normal job.

What did you learn from your physics degree?

It’s difficult to list all the things I learnt on my Physics degree. I might not be working on cosmology or particle physics anymore but the list of transferable skills I gained is endless. Here’s just a few: scientific report writing, giving presentations, quantitative analysis, wave knowledge, problem-solving skills and computer programming.

What three things do you wish you'd known before graduating?

1. Experience – Get as much of it as you can. Be proactive and find interesting projects - you’ll quickly find experience you wouldn’t normally get from your day job. It sounds great in an interview and looks fantastic on a CV.

2. You’re still young – You still have time to try things out to find what really suits you. Experiment in your first couple of years out of university.

3. Opportunities never come at exactly the right time – but it’s important that you never miss them.


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