Anna Williams

The specialist and transferable skills Anna learned during her year-long placement at EMEC Ecology – an ecological consultancy that undertakes protected species surveys – greatly improved her work-life balance and helped her secure an assistant ecologist role at a consultancy in the Yorkshire Dales.

Photo of Anna Williams

“I chose to study in the Department of Animal and Plant Sciences at Sheffield because the department, university, and city in general seemed to provide a friendly and great working environment. Throughout my time at university I have continued to enjoy the city, and being close to the Peak District means many of my modules have included day trips out into the natural environment to study the ecology on our doorstep. I had already decided before university that I wanted to specialise in ecology as I am interested in looking at the bigger picture of landscapes and species interactions. I have particularly enjoyed the practical side of my course, with many day trips around the local area as well as a field course to Ireland and two week-long courses based in the peak district.

“Before coming to university, I had already decided I would like to take a year out between second and third year to work in the environment sector and came across EMEC Ecology when an older student presented a talk about the company in a careers module lecture. Consultancy work where you provide specialist advice and services to others appealed to me as it has a good balance between outdoor survey work and office report writing. I sent off a CV, got invited to interview, and secured a year-long placement in Nottingham.


I had already decided before university that I wanted to specialise in ecology as I am interested in looking at the bigger picture of landscapes and species interactions. I have particularly enjoyed the practical side of my course, with many day trips around the local area as well as a field course to Ireland and two week-long courses based in the peak district.

Anna Williams

BSc Ecology and Conservation Biology with Placement Year


“During my year I gained invaluable experience not only in surveying for protected species such as bats, great crested newts, badgers and many others, but also transferable business skills such as compiling quotes, dealing with clients, and learning the regulations and laws with regards to UK protected species.

“Now, in my final year, I was able to apply for graduate jobs and have secured an assistant ecologist role at a consultancy in the Yorkshire Dales when there were 150 other applicants, something I would not have achieved without a years’ worth of experience from my year in industry. I have also come back to Sheffield better able to achieve a balance between university work, club sport and socialising, something I learnt while on placement.”