Beatrice McDonough – BSc (Hons) Physical Geography and Geology graduate

“As soon as I first saw Plymouth University on an open day, I knew it would be the one I’d come back to. It was almost idyllic with the sun shining in blue skies, but the atmosphere and the people won me over. I had never been away from my family for more than two weeks and in the end I travelled 200 miles to attend Plymouth.”

Tell us about your career path since graduation.

After my exams I started working for my family’s business (fixing gearboxes and differentials on modern and classic cars), but I set the condition that I was allowed a day a week off to search for jobs related to my degree. I found a contact through my parents who knew someone in the Environment Agency (EA). Many phone calls later I was invited in for an interview and then an induction and a month after my graduation I started work.

Has your career path changed since graduation?

I guess, considering that all throughout my third year I had no idea what I wanted to do! I was leaning more towards the coastal erosion side of things, linking my dissertation and two years of coastal modules, but I didn’t know if that was because I was passionate about it or because I was good at it. I now have a full time job with the EA doing mostly admin based work, but my real goal and focus is becoming an author. My degree has really helped shape my ideas and it is still early days yet, but one day I will publish something.

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get in to the same line of work? 

Contacts are everything. You never know when they will come in handy, or come to your rescue.

What is your favourite memory of studying at Plymouth?

The field trips, duh! I know everyone always says field trips are the best, but they truly are. It is exciting to get out of the lecture halls and travel to amazing places, and of course you strengthen the relationships you have with your friends and you create new ones. In my third year, just before my exams, I went on a trip to Sicily with a few others from physical geography and geology and the geologists and we had such an incredible time. But I was also really sad that I had only just got to know these wonderful people and that I would probably never see them again. I wish I had got to know them much, much sooner.

Would you recommend undertaking a course with Plymouth University, and why? 

Definitely, and not just because I am biased. As soon as I first saw Plymouth University on an open day, I knew it would be the one I’d come back to. It was almost idyllic with the sun shining in blue skies, but the atmosphere and the people won me over. I had never been away from my family for more than two weeks and in the end I travelled 200 miles to attend Plymouth.

The University campus is perfectly located between shops and the city centre, the suburbs and the majority of student housing. They have so many sports clubs and societies; I joined so many new things I had never done before. The library is one of the best in the country or region (or something like that) and it is open 24 hours, which is a life saver if you have a half written piece of coursework to hand in the next day (we've all been there).

Is there anything else which you would like to share with our current students?

Don’t give in to the expectation to conform to what everyone else is doing. When I was at university, the majority of my friends wanted to go into engineering geology, or were desperate to get into huge companies, or the oil and gas industry. I was getting scared at the thought of moving on and finding a job because I thought only geology companies would be open to me and I was not passionate about going into this sector. I had an epiphany after my dissertation: why should I follow everyone else, and should I not explore what comes most naturally to me, such as writing or daydreaming? After that point I knew in my heart what I wanted to achieve, to become an author, and that I wanted to be very different to everyone else. I just wish I had realised sooner.