Degree: BSc Biology with Placement Year
Placement organisation: Mott MacDonald
Fiona spent last year on a placement with the global engineering, management, and development consultancy Mott MacDonald. There, she conducted a number of ecological surveys on bats, vegetation, and reptiles. Now she’s back in Sheffield with a wealth of new skills, ready to finish her BSc.
"When I started a Biology degree at Sheffield, I hadn’t decided what I wanted to do and graduation seemed like a long way away. I chose to do a BSc in Biology with Placement Year because I found the topics interesting and the whole department seemed welcoming, and I haven’t looked back since. Throughout my degree, I have particularly enjoyed all the field work, including day trips to the Peak District, data collection for my project in a local park and two, week-long field courses to Wales and Ireland. The wide selection of modules allowed me to specialise in ecology whilst learning about other animal and plant topics too. This was useful for me, as I was still unsure what I wanted to do by second year.
"I decided to apply for a placement year to get some ecological experience and try to identify a career I would enjoy. The university Careers Service aided my search as they hosted careers talks in which professionals were invited to talk about their company and their personal career progression. I applied for and attained a 12 month placement with the global engineering, management, and development consultancy Mott MacDonald between my second and third year at university, working as an ecologist.
"During my placement I conducted a range of ecology surveys such as bat surveys, vegetation surveys, and translocation of many reptile and amphibian species, which was all invaluable experience. I learned about various protected species and habitats and also assisted to write ecological reports and analyse data in the office. Not only has this helped me stand out from other applicants for graduate ecology roles, I also developed a range of transferable skills from my placement that would be useful if I decide to pursue any other career.
"Looking forward, I have tailored the rest of my degree to modules that I know are more relevant to the industry and I have a few upcoming interviews for ecology positions following my graduation this summer. The department has prepared me with the field experience, professional skills and ecological understanding to support my future and I have enjoyed the experience from my first day."