Laura Blake – BSc (Hons) Environmental Science graduate

Year of graduation: 2016

Current employer: GENeco

Current job title: Bioresources Graduate

Current location: Bristol

Laura Blake interview

Studying environmental science at Plymouth University gave me the motivation and the drive to raise awareness of environmental issues that threaten our ecosystems today. I had a great team of lecturers supporting me.

Laura talks about where she works now and how Plymouth University helped her get there.

“The nature of the course and the enthusiasm of all of the academics gave me the motivation, aspiration, and encouragement to […] achieve my ambitions.”

Tell us what you have you been doing since completing your studies?

Shortly after finishing my last exam at university, I started working as a Bioresources Graduate for GENeco – a recycling and renewable energy company. Unlike many graduates today, I did not have a break after finishing my degree to go on holiday or travel. Now I have nearly finished my first year in the waste management industry and have gained invaluable experience that will only assist with career progression.

Has your career path changed since graduation?

Although my career path has not changed since graduation, my interests have. When applying for the position of a Bioresources Graduate, my heart was not set on a career in the waste management industry; neither did I partake in the waste management module at university. However, I was eager to gain experience in an environmental organisation where my final year research project could be applied, in order to facilitate change. Nine months on and I have really enjoyed learning about waste management and I am keen to progress further into the industry.

What is the most difficult thing, which you have faced in your career?

Although I had partaken in numerous part-time work before starting my career, the jump from university to the working world was much larger than I had anticipated. Whilst studying at university I spent my summers outdoors in the woods working for The Bushcraft Company – teaching children outdoor survival skills. As you can probably imagine, working in a corporate environment is a completely different ballgame!

What is the best most exciting thing you have done in your career?

I enjoy being able to utilise my knowledge and skills within the waste management industry to contribute towards making a difference. Whether that is organising outreach projects to increase recycling rates, educating groups of visitors about GENeco’s sustainable waste management practices or coming up with new innovative ideas to reduce reliance on fossil fuels to improve the organisations performance.

What, if anything, would you do differently since graduating?

I would not change anything. Although the working world has been such a rollercoaster, the experiences I have gained in such a short period of time have been invaluable. Most importantly, I have not lost my interest for environmental science and sustainability. When I have a spare moment, I continue to research climate change and sustainability related subjects to keep me up to date.

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

Do not give up! If you have a love for the subject and an ambition to work in the industry, your motivation will enable you to work harder and achieve higher. Contrastingly, if you are not a 100 per cent certain about the career path, give it a go. All of the skills I have learned this year would be transferable into other organisations and are highly adaptable.

How did studying at Plymouth help you?

The nature of the course and the enthusiasm of all of the academics gave me the motivation, aspiration, and encouragement to not only achieve a first class honours, but the drive to raise awareness of the environmental impacts of our society and how it threatens the earth’s vulnerable marine and terrestrial ecosystems.

The experience gained from the final year studying process has been more valuable to me than the overall grade I achieved. The process taught me that it is possible to achieve my ambitions if you are driven and motivated towards a particular subject.

What is your favourite memory of studying at Plymouth?

There are countless memories from studying environmental science at Plymouth University. A favourite memory would have to be the final day of the Malaysia field trip. Although I remember being up until the early hours of the morning the night before, preparing for a final group presentation, it was a really rewarding to be able to share the week’s research results amongst peers. To top the day off, eight of us had two weeks of travelling to Vietnam and Bali to look forward to!

Do you stay in touch with other Plymouth University alumni or lecturers?

During my degree, I had a group of course mates that were supportive of each other and made the university experience unforgettable. Shortly after graduation, a group of us hired out a cottage in Cornwall for a mini break to celebrate finishing our degree. I am looking forward to meeting up with the same group of people this summer. I have also stayed in touch with my research project adviser, Dr Alison Stokes.

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

I would highly recommend studying environmental science at Plymouth University. The course is very interdisciplinary and offers endless opportunities to students in the ultimate location.                                                                 

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

Life is not a waiting game, be proactive and go the extra mile! Always ask, ‘How can I maximise my potential?’ Your success, both at university and in your career, is highly dependent on how you utilise your time, and the opportunities you choose to search for and participate in.