Sam Scriven – MGeol Geology graduate

Current employer: Dorset County Council

Current job title: Jurassic Coast Earth Science Manager

Current location: Dorset

“If you are keen to see our natural environment protected and love communicating your passion for science with the public, then the world needs you!”

Tell us about your career path since graduation.

After graduation I moved back home and began volunteering in the county museum. Within a couple of months a vacancy popped up for an assistant warden at the Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre. My volunteering helped me to get that job. From there, I moved to the Jurassic Coast team in 2009 as an Earth Science Adviser. I was then promoted to Earth Science Manager in 2015. Experience in public engagement has been at the core of my entire career.

How has your degree helped/influenced your career path?

I couldn’t have followed my career without it. I think staying on to do the undergraduate masters (I wasn’t interested in specialising or doing research) was helpful as it gave me a slight edge over a bachelor’s degree, whilst expanding my knowledge of the subject and testing myself academically.

Has your career path changed since graduation?

Not really, but then my career is rather niche and there aren’t many jobs like it. Plus, I love it, so why stop doing it?

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

For me, having achieved my degree and then topping it up with volunteering was crucial to demonstrate that I was interested in the heritage sector.

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

There is a lot to choose from, but probably getting to write a book which, as I answer these questions, is going to print. Right now, I am feeling very excited and very nervous to find out what people think of it. Our remit as a team involves a great deal of public engagement and communication, and this new book is an official guide to the fossils of the Jurassic Coast and intended for a general audience.

What, if anything, would you do differently if you could?

I often think it’s ironic that my ambition was to work in the heritage sector and that my career has involved so much public engagement, but that I missed Iain Stewart’s modules at Plymouth University by a few years: they probably would have come in handy.

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

Be bold, and seek out experience as soon as you can. There are plenty of opportunities out there, from museums to local groups. If you are keen to see our natural environment protected and love communicating your passion for science with the public, then the world needs you.

How did studying at Plymouth help you?

It gave me a good grounding, a broad knowledge of the subject, and some great contacts for the future.

What lessons/skills did you gain from your course?

I learned not to attempt palaeomagnetic analyses. I am not good at it. On the other hand, I did learn what I was good at: mainly fieldwork and writing concise reports. That stuff has been very useful throughout my career. In a way, I think that is the whole point of doing a degree: to test yourself and find out where your path lies.

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

A few. Facebook is handy for that. I cross paths with some of the lecturers fairly regularly through work, and if any current students are out doing field work on the Dorset and East Devon Coast they might bump into me.

Inspired by this story?

For more information about studying MGeol Geology, please visit our MGeol Geology page. For more information about our range of courses within the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, please visit the school page.

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