Why did you choose to study environmental studies?
I’ve always been fascinated with the world around me. I grew up on a farm, which allowed me to be close to nature, watching the changes in seasons throughout the year. I also loved studying biology and geography at high school, so I knew environmental studies was the right fit for me.
What was the best thing about your course?
The diversity. First and second year allowed me to study various science disciplines from chemistry and geology to atmospheric sciences and resource management. Third and fourth year allowed me to focus on the disciplines I excelled in and enjoyed. There were also many field trips, which gave me a practical understanding of the theory we studied.
What was the worst thing?
The worst thing was working by myself in the laboratory for three months during my honours year. It got quite tiring being by myself all day, but luckily I had a radio to keep me company. The cold morning lectures probably weren’t my favourite aspect either!
What did your course involve?
The course involved approximately 20 to 25 contact hours per week, which included practical laboratory sessions, group tutorials and theory lectures.
Are you working in your field?
I have been working as an environmental scientist in private consultancy firms since graduation. Mainly, I have worked on contaminated site assessments. There is a component of fieldwork with nearly every job, which may include a site walk-over, soil sampling, and groundwater installation and sampling. Once the risks have been identified, the site may require remediation to ensure it is suitable for its intended use. My job also involves office work, such as preparation of reports and general job management (invoicing and attending meetings, for example). I really enjoy the mix of fieldwork and office work.
What advice would you give to students considering studying environmental studies?
My course was relatively intensive, with many assessment tasks adding to the final subject scores. If you are organised, you will gain more from your studies and will build good habits for when you move into full-time work. I would also recommend completing an internship or work experience during the summer holidays. You may find that you like working in a field that you may have overlooked during your study. Review the job market early, as you may find that there are limited roles in your preferred field. Look at a potential employer and think about where they could take you. Do they have multiple offices that would allow you to travel? Is there opportunity for promotion? Is there on-the-job training?
Have you undertaken further study?
I have not completed any further formal study, but I would like to complete my masters in science at some stage. My employers have given me opportunities to complete on-the-job training, and I’ve also had the opportunity to attend conferences.