Male student carrying out research in the river basin room

Living a researcher’s life on placement

I was once told in an interview I conducted for an assignment that research is constant in every part of your life and have come to understand that it can become a lifestyle as much as it is a job. The reality of the vast number of hours required to develop, conduct and analyse research became very apparent in the earlier stages of this project.

As with many parts of the placement; I learned that no plan survives or works the first time around. Designing and implementing a methodology with which to conduct representative and accurate research was by far the biggest culprit for siphoning my time throughout this project. I would say that the implementation of the experimental design was the greatest challenge as the time it takes to alter and finetune some of the setups were labours and time consuming. A specific example was deciding how we would quantify the amount of sediment and microplastics were being transported at each hydrograph.

By consulting my supervisors and doing a bit more reading we decided on designing a fixed bed system by gluing sediment to wooden boards so that the only material being transported is from our samples. Though it was a challenge it came with the benefit of giving me not only a great level of insight into the nuances of conducting scientifically relevant and accurate research; but it also enforced my ability to think critically and to solve problems. Read More

From Brighton to Arctic Sweden

The Environmental Sciences BSc(Hons) course at Brighton attracted me because of its modular flexibility and scope. When I applied in 2014, I did not feel a strong pull in the direction of a particular field within the geosciences, but I wanted an overview understanding of the environment and how it is being influenced by humans. BSc Env Sci promised exactly that.

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Looking forward to a summer of research

I’m undertaking a six-week funded internship as part of the Santander Summer Research Scheme as a 2nd year Environmental Sciences undergraduate student at the University of Brighton. I entered university with a clear idea of what I’d like to achieve; which in the long term is to do impactful research especially relating to rivers and water issues. The advertisement for the summer research position immediately caught my attention as a fantastic opportunity to gain experience as a researcher working alongside the skilled and experienced staff from the universities Centre for Aquatic Environments. Not only does the position offer me invaluable experience which will aid in my long-term goal of undertaking a PhD, but it also expands on what I’ve been taught so far in my undergraduate modules. I felt entirely grateful and privileged to be offered the position following the application and interview process. In part I was relieved in receiving the offer as this will undoubtedly be a great step forward to furthering my academic career. Read More

My placement year at Monier

Jade Malone, Geology BSc(Hons)

“On my placement year at Monier I gained confidence working in an industrial setting, and developed my interpersonal skills with colleagues at all levels. It has enabled me to effectively communicate results and findings to ensure that project teams work effectively as a single unit.

I personally feel that going on a sandwich-year has given me quite a nice ‘break’ from studying and I now believe I will return to complete the final year of my course with a higher level of maturity and motivation – not to mention a vast improvement in my time management skills!”

My placement at GE Aviation

Geraldine Rumbold
BSc (Hons) Physical Geography and Geology

“By undertaking a placement year as an Environment Health and Safety Intern, it has been the best decision that I could have made for my career. It has expanded and developed my skills including team work, decision making, project management and emotional intelligence, which I could not have gained at university. In addition, I have received an extra qualification (Nebosh National General Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety), which will improve my career opportunities in any career I pursue in the future. I would highly recommend anyone to pursue an internship to gain a year’s experience. In the long term, it will make you a strong and desirable candidate when applying for Graduate Schemes or Postgraduate Opportunities.”

My placement at Johnson & Johnson

Shane Voight
BSc (Hons) Environmental Science

“As a Sustainability Coordinator with Johnson & Johnson each day is very varied. I can be developing presentations and business proposals for my next big project, walking around the site doing building audits, or doing a roadshow talking to people about sustainability, recycling, and environmental initiatives. I have developed a huge amount over the year. My biggest achievement has been leading and managing Energy Week, which involved communicating to Johnson & Johnson staff the importance of environmental initiatives. My placement has been an enjoyable experience and I’ve had great support from my team and made great friendships with the other placement students.”

From a placement point of view: the story so far

Find out how Ella, who is studying Environmental Science BSc(Hons), is getting on during her placement year.

I have been a part of the European Sustainability Affairs Team for almost seven months now and it is safe to say I am still learning; my skills are expanding and I’m having a lot of fun in the process!

Right now my job roles vary week by week. I am consistently responsible for standard monthly/weekly reporting alongside supporting the European subsidiaries. Other than that I find myself completing a wide range of tasks from applying for environmental awards with our eco-products to contacting HQ (in Korea!) to discuss trade show details. I am currently creating an eco-ranking that can be used to benchmark our eco products against our competitors.

I still have another 6 months left of my placement and I now understand how valuable this experience is. It has given me a better idea of where I would like to work in the future. I also feel that after working for a year I will undoubtedly appreciate my third year at University a lot more and dedicate more time to university assignments (…hopefully!). I have enjoyed my time so far and I know the rest of the year is going to fly by. It is because of these reasons that I would highly recommend a placement year to anyone who has the option.

A placement out in the field

Jack placementOne of our final year Geography BSc(Hons) students, Jack Burrows, looks back at the diverse range of projects he was involved in during his placement year, and the job he has been offered as a result of it.

I was lucky enough to complete a placement year with the Field Studies Council (FSC) at Orielton Field Centre last year. The FSC is an environmental charity that aims to “provide an environmental understanding for all” which was set up in 1943. They have seventeen centres that range across the UK which sit in or near biological/geographical important sites.

I had a wide range of responsibilities which included, but were not limited to, being a lab technician, qualified first aider, teacher assistant (see the photo), biological researcher, running the tuck shop found on site and collecting meteorological data on behalf of the MET office. And I had a biological article published as well as being interviewed by BBC Wales.

Doing a placement year has been a great benefit to my university degree. Having a year out has given me a break from university life and a chance to have a feel what it would be like once graduated. I was treated as a graduate and left to plan my own work days but still work to deadlines. Not only have my existing skills improved, but I have learned new ones that have benefited my final year, such as time management which many undergraduates may find difficult.

Being on a placement year, also enabled me to collect my own dissertation data and having experts in the field close by to help me. The FSC have also offered me a job, once graduated, on their tutor training scheme.

I advise that students should think very positively regarding placement years. I believe doing a placement year should be made compulsory because it has benefited me a lot; not only in my final year, but once I graduate too.

From a placement point of view: My first business trip

Here’s an update from Ella who is on placement with Samsung. You can read more about it by looking in our placement posts.

In July my team and I travelled to Jászfényszaru in Hungary, to meet with the Samsung environmental coordinators from Europe. This conference happens once a year in order to discuss relevant environmental matters and upcoming legislation. Luckily for me this trip gave me the opportunity to meet colleagues that I now correspond with regularly and more importantly learn about topics that would be significant throughout my placement.
In all honesty at the start l didn’t understand every topic that was discussed (this was mostly down to the fact that I had only been on the job for 3 weeks!). However, having this experience did allow me to ask many questions and generally help me settle into my placement quicker. So, baptism by fire worked and now I am confident to handle any inquiries!!

Alongside the two-day conference we visited an on-site Samsung TV factory. It was fascinating seeing all the complex machinery used to manufacture our products. Not to mention seeing the finished product packaged in 100% post-consumer recycled cardboard! We also visited the Smart Academy which showcased the use of Samsung products as a guide to education.

Overall the conference was a success. Actions were made from the discussions and I was given the responsibility to monitor their progress. This task provided me with information I would not have gained otherwise as well as keeping me updated on current topics.
I thoroughly enjoyed the event and can safely say I am looking forward to the next!