Kate Gwynn, BSc Ecology, Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales
What made you want to take part in the Year in Employment Scheme?
I’ve always been passionate about conservation as a career path. The placement year provided the chance for me to explore and confirm this. In conservation it’s important to gain as much experience in the field as possible and to network as often as you can. I’ve volunteered for the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales before and loved the chance to complete a year-long placement with them, experiencing the working environment.
What did you do during your placement?
As a Field Assistant, I was provided with many opportunities for practical experience such as reserves maintenance and species targeted management. Furthermore, I got involved in surveying, monitoring, writing articles and keeping species records up-to-date. I even went to Skomer Island for 2 weeks to help with the Manx Shearwater Census! I received a variety of training including First Aid. I also conducted my own project that aimed to decrease predation on Lapwing eggs at a nature reserve by creating dummy lapwing eggs to deter predators from eating real eggs.
What are your plans for the future?
I very much hope to return to the conservation field full time. Previous placement students with the WTSWW have all found full-time positions, which is very encouraging. Before that, my plan is to do as well as possible in the final year at Aberystwyth University.
Christopher Woodfield, BSc Environmental Earth Science
Can you tell us a bit about your YES placement?
My Year in Employment Scheme (YES) placement was with the Field Studies Council in Betws-y-Coed, North Wales. The Field Studies Council is the UK’s leading outdoor and environmental education charity aiming to “bring environmental understanding to all” through facilitating discovery and exploration of the natural environment.
My role as Education Assistant encompassed a variety of tasks at the beautiful residential Field Centre nestled in Snowdonia National Park. For example, general grounds and site maintenance, gardening, assisting the Field Tutors with classroom and outdoor teaching, preparing and maintaining scientific field equipment, taking daily weather recordings, and being on duty two nights a week, to name a few. I also assisted with the practical educational field visits to local woodland, river, beach and mountain sites as well as outdoor recreational activities such as walking, climbing and river/gorge scrambling.
The role allowed me to live and experience working in a breath-taking natural environment with some great like-minded people and to make friendships for life. Professionally, it allowed me to enhance and develop a wide variety of essential transferable skills such as teamwork, organisational, leadership, motivation and additionally working within a not-for-profit charitable organisation. It also gave me the space and time before commencing my final year of University to think about and explore what I might do in the future and certain career paths.
What effect did your YES placement have on your academic studies?
As a result of the YES placement, I felt more determined and motivated when returning to University and completed my BSc in Environmental Earth Science achieving a 1st Class with the highest mark on my degree scheme. Additionally, the YES placement provided me with relevant experience and skills which I utilised in an Environmental Graduate Trainee placement position with Aberystwyth University after graduating. I would strongly recommend considering and exploring options to undertake a YES placement and it was definitely a worthwhile experience.
Carly Jackson, BSc Physical Geography
Can you tell us a bit about your YES placement?
I spent my year out as an Environmental Sustainability Intern at Nationwide Building Society. My role involved working with the business to deliver key internal environmental targets, working with the rest of the employees to understand how they can be greener in their workplace, and collaborating in corporate partnerships. My favourite part of the job was working with external stakeholders to deliver a research project that Nationwide is leading on.
Would you recommend the Scheme to others?
At the beginning of the second year, I was concerned that it would be hard to arrange to go on the YES, but it was really easy and, once I had my job, it was a simple process to contact the Careers Service who deferred my course and student finance for the year. Going on a YES placement has given me more independence and understanding of the industry I want to go into, and other general skills for life. Since coming back to university, I have found the skills I learnt on my year in employment have really helped me improve my academia and motivation. If anyone was considering going on the YES, I couldn't recommend it more.