Student Case Studies: Kate

Kate – 3rd Year MSCI Ecology and Conservation student 2017/18

“If you can be open-minded about career paths and different approaches, speaking to a range of people can offer new ideas and can link your previous experiences in a way you hadn’t recognised previously, as well as developing new opportunities to consider in the future. It’s important to make the most of the opportunities available at university as they’re often not available to you once you’ve left, so don’t put it off!”

Kate’s journey to Lancaster University

Kate worked in various jobs after her A levels, before training in Forensic Science and working for the Police for a number of years. She had always been interested in the environment so chose to do a conservation-based degree when she decided to change career direction. She chose Lancaster so her (then) pre-school age son could still be close to friends and people they knew in Preston.

When Kate applied to Lancaster, she imagined the degree would lead to a career such as lab work and sample analysis for a Water Company. She realises looking back that she was thinking of jobs she could pretty much already do as she was scared of the prospect of something more challenging. Her ideas are very different now, due to her improved confidence that she can succeed in something new and to her broader horizons.

Accessing support from Lancaster University Careers Services

The Future Leaders Experiences Programme (previously called Frontrunner) offered by Careers in her first year gave Kate a completely different view of leadership and management and the confidence to look for something at a higher level than before. It broadened her thinking and removed the fear from considering options that would have been unthinkable from her previous working life, such as self—employment in ecological consultancy work.

Careers workshops such as those on CV-building, using Linked-In and networking helped Kate understand the importance of this kind of communication and learn how to get across what she has to offer. She says that the value of the workshops is that they take you away from everything else so that you focus on your future – not just what you want to do but also what skills you’ve got to help you get there. Trying out a few different workshops means what you learn in each complements the others so over time you can put it all together to gain a better understanding of how to communicate with potential employers and “sell’ yourself.

Kate also had one to one meetings with Careers staff and described these as a chance to ask questions of really knowledgeable and helpful people who will go out of their way to get information to support you individually; because of their experience, they might come up with ideas you’ve never thought of. Being introduced to a sector-specific mentor through the Careers Mentoring Programme has been massively useful because the mentor set up an insight day at his workplace as well as being very supportive and prepared to answer questions about his work. Through this, Kate already has experience of a type of work which her department see as the “next big thing” in environmental conservation, and she is aiming for a career in environmental habitat restoration.