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Thomas - Sustainability

Everyone you meet in the wildlife, ecology or sustainability sectors says that whilst being academic is an important step in gaining a job; it is the experience that will set yourself apart and without that experience you are a lot less likely to become employed in these sectors. With this in mind, and with the academic side in full flow with me studying for a BS(c) in Wildlife, Ecology and Sectors, I had, also been trying to build up my experience as much as possible through volunteering. In first year, I was made aware of the Mirco-placement scheme by someone from the Career Service. Ultimately, life became too busy and then Covid hit (so it was a wise decision not to apply). However, I still know I wanted to participate – I would not forgive myself if I didn’t apply as this would have been a big ‘missed opportunity’ in my head. With this philosophy, in my third year, as Covid restriction were ending, and with in person working back on the agenda, I decided to apply in September. I was interviewed, but ultimately didn’t get the role but I did gain valuable feedback from the interviewees and, using that, I reapplied in February and got the role! It just goes to show, using feedback will help you succeed in your ambitions and never, ever, give up! 

My micro-placement has been highly varied and no two sessions were the same – I have learnt that variety is what I love. Just to give you a taste of what I have worked on: I have completed a phase 1 baseline survey of the Wildlife Garden; investigated what businesses in Norfolk and Suffolk are doing to become more sustainable and the actions they are taking to archive net zero, and using this, I produced a short briefing document summarising my findings; and have researched different wildflower plants and pond plants that will be suitable to be planted in both a) the wildflower patch and b) the Wildlife Garden at the university. Such a variety!  

As you can imagine, through this variety of activities undertaken, I have developed many skills. These include; research, particularly into areas I had not researched before e.g., what businesses are doing to achieve net zero; time management and organisation as I had to juggle my dissertation (writing and editing of it); alongside another module and this as well as family life; and my practical skills. Whilst I had completed a phase 1 survey as part of the degree on the “practical fieldwork research skills module” – a 1st year module – redoing this helped me to use the feedback from that module assignment, and complete a phase 1 survey that was much improved. At the same time, this will help the university as now they have a baseline to compare how the Wildlife Garden is doing in future years, which should implement future management plans. Everyone wins!  

Throughout my time doing this micro-placement, Justine has been kind, friendly, full of enthusiasm and extremely supportive of my workload particularly when I just needed to focus on my dissertation. She has been a great teacher through which I have learnt a lot which, I hope, will stand in good stead for what ever the future brings.  

That leaves me with just one thing to say: thank you to both Justine and Annabelle for making this opportunity available and for being so supportive!