Luke Langsford – BSc (Hons) Applied Chemistry graduate

Year of graduation: 2011

Current employer: Babcock

Current job title: Health Physicist

Current location: Devonport (seconded to Rosyth, Scotland)

“When I arrived for the Plymouth open day I knew instantly that this was where I wanted to be.”

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

Since graduating I have had a number of short term contract jobs – R&D Chemist, Analytical Scientist for the Environment Agency, and Reactor Chemist on Royal Navy submarines undergoing refit at Devonport. After a while I wanted a more secure, longer term employment; I took a gamble and branched out of chemistry onto the Babcock Graduate Scheme at Devonport and haven’t looked back since!

What is the best, most exciting or fun thing that you have done in your career?

Honestly, the scale of the projects since joining the Babcock Graduate Scheme, the complexity, the variety, and the people have all been outstanding – not everyone gets to go on submarines on a daily basis for work!

What would you do differently since graduating?

I believe that everything I did is part of where I am now. I love where I am now, both in and out of work, and I wouldn’t want to change that!

Imagine you were about to start university again - with the benefit of hindsight - what would you now tell yourself to have done differently?

Having embarked on a masters through work, I can honestly say that the lectures, labs, and coursework don’t seem so bad once you have worked a 9-5 job. I no longer start writing reports at 1am! Also, to remember that academia isn’t everything, it‘s also about the people you meet and the experiences you have along the way.

What was your main reason for choosing to study your course at Plymouth? With hindsight how significant was this for you?

I had no idea where I wanted to go to university so I went to a number of open days, such as at Reading and Bristol. When I arrived for the Plymouth open day I knew instantly that this was where I wanted to be: it was a gut feeling I just couldn’t ignore.

How did we support you in your studies? If you used any support services whilst at the university how did they enable you to get to where you are today?

I had some great support from the staff on my course, both from personal tutors and my dissertation adviser (one even offered me their surf board to borrow!). I also struggled with funding as I had no financial support from home; I approached the University in my second year and they gave me the support I needed, both funding and advice which was great.

How did studying at Plymouth change your career aspirations and plans?

I instantly fell in love with the South West and realised that this was where I wanted to be, and have been very lucky to be able to do so. Although I am currently on a secondment through work in Rosyth, Scotland, I will be returning to Devonport at the end of my secondment for sure!

What is your favourite memory of studying for your degree at Plymouth?

My favourite memory is a difficult one as there are so many, but to pick one I would say my graduation day. I met up with my best friend after the ceremony, we left his parents with the champagne, grabbed our longboards, and went for a skate in our graduation gowns! The immense feeling of success was amazing, and plenty of people stopped us to say congratulations!

How well did Plymouth prepare you for the challenges that you have faced, or will face, in your career? 

My course taught me a wide variety of transferable skills which are highly desirable to employers, such as technical report writing and meeting tight deadlines. I also learned some valuable life lessons whilst at Plymouth. I’ve always been quite independent but not everyone is, and I saw friends develop from those who didn’t-know-how-to-use-a-washing-machine to those who were able to take care of themselves.

Why would you recommend undertaking a course with Plymouth University?

For me, going to university is half of the degree and half of the experience. Plymouth offers great degrees combined with an absolutely fantastic student experience. I defy anyone not to fall in love with the South West!