Katie Major – BSc (Hons) Psychology with Criminology and Criminal Justice Studies graduate

Current employer: Bristol Zoological Society

Current job title: Conservation Campaign Manager

Current location: Bristol

“The most exciting part of my career so far has been conducting research in the Philippines. I worked with the Agta (a hunter gatherer population) who live in the Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park, and was privileged to learn about their culture and traditions.”

Has your career path changed since graduation?

Since graduating, my career path has become more focused on wildlife conservation.  I started work in a public facing role for the RSPB for a short period. I was then lucky enough to have the opportunity to carry out field research in the Philippines for eight months where I worked with indigenous hunter gatherers. After this, I became the Conservation Campaign Manager at Bristol Zoological Society and I am now responsible for designing, implementing, and evaluating behaviour change campaigns (encouraging the public to perform pro-environmental behaviours) at Bristol Zoo Gardens and Wild Place Project, as well as lecturing undergraduate students. As my current job involves detailed knowledge of human behaviour, it is great that I am able to apply my psychological knowledge in a conservation setting.

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

The biggest challenge I faced was getting a job that I was passionate about in conservation, as there are very few jobs available in this area of work. However, taking the time to establish what I wanted to do with my career as well as completing further qualifications and undertaking field research has helped me to achieve this.

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

The most exciting part of my career so far has been conducting research in the Philippines. I worked with the Agta (a hunter gatherer population) who live in the Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park, and was privileged to learn about their culture and traditions. They also taught me an incredible amount about the wildlife living in the forest with them.

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

I would remain calm when trying to get a job in conservation. In hindsight, it just takes time to get practical experience and gain the skills you need.

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

I would tell them to gain as much experience as possible. It can be difficult to get a job in conservation straight after graduating, so I would recommend that they volunteer for a variety of different conservation organisations and undertake field research if possible.

How did studying at Plymouth help you?

Studying at Plymouth helped me to discover what I was interested in, and narrow down what I wanted to do with my career. During the first two years of my degree I gained knowledge in many different disciplines within the field of psychology, and by my final year I discovered that animal behaviour and conservation was the area that I was most interested in and would like to pursue further.

What is your favourite memory of studying at Plymouth?

One of my favourite memories of studying at Plymouth is when I was collecting data at the National Marine Aquarium for my final year dissertation. I got to know many of the individual species housed in the aquarium really well and enjoyed seeing them on a daily basis. Because of the location of the aquarium, it was also great to be able to have lunch on Plymouth Hoe!

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

I actually met my partner whilst studying at Plymouth University, who was also on the Psychology course! I also stay in contact with my dissertation supervisor, Phil Gee, who I talk to every so often. It’s always great to hear what’s going on at Plymouth University and to see how much it has evolved since I was there.

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

I would definitely recommend studying at Plymouth University, especially the Psychology course. The course covers numerous different disciplines in psychology and gives you a great oversight of what psychology entails. Also, Plymouth University is centrally located in Plymouth, making it really accessible, and it is only a twenty minute walk to Plymouth Hoe!

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