Meet some of our postgraduate students and alumni
“The whole MSc has been an amazing experience in terms of my personal and professional development and I am confident that my Masters gives my CV the edge"
I studied Geography as an undergraduate and I applied for lots of graduate-level jobs with environment teams in different organisations. I managed to get to final interview stage for a number of jobs and the feedback was that employers were looking for specific experience in environmental management and higher-level skills so I decided to do the MSc in Environmental Management and Sustainable Development at Manchester Met.
Having nearly finished my Masters, I would certainly recommend it to others – I have really enjoyed it. It’s a tough year with lots of hard work but definitely worth it. Be prepared to be busy – as well as a part-time job in a restaurant, I have been volunteering one day a week with the environment team at Central Manchester University Hospitals Trust and of course studying hard. We have one full day of tutorials and lectures a week and lots of work and writing up in between. I will also be working over the summer to complete my dissertation, for which I’ve been able to draw upon my experience working with the NHS.
Part of the feedback from the job interviews I had when I graduated was that the successful candidates had some relevant environmental management work experience. I used my initiative and approached lots of different organisations and companies with strong corporate social responsibility policies and in-house environmental teams, offering my services as a volunteer. I managed to secure a voluntary position one day a week with the environment team for the NHS at Manchester Royal Infirmary which has been a fantastic experience.
As a result, my dissertation is on waste segregation at an acute NHS Trust. It focuses on the challenges of managing a mixed waste stream that includes general waste and clinical waste. The latter requires careful handling and incineration and is obviously more costly to deal with. It’s important to establish protocols to ensure clinical waste does not contaminate general waste; and that general waste does not creep into clinical waste creating unnecessary expense. I have also been exploring how these issues impact on recycling. I hope to present some useful findings and solutions and the whole project has been fascinating.
I would like to work for an environmental consultancy next, and there are a few in Manchester, or find an in-house environmental post – working for the NHS would be great. I am also keeping my eye out for Manchester Met’s own intern scheme which enables graduates of the University to get paid work experience – I would love to work for the University’s award-winning environmental team!
"I enjoyed the critical review element to the project; I could get to grips with this fascinating new topic"
As part of my Animal Behaviour Masters project I looked at active touch theories and how humans use our finger tips to define a shape compared to how a pinniped (seal, sea lion etc) uses their facial whiskers. I really enjoyed the critical review element to the project as it meant I could research previous studies and really get to grips with this fascinating new topic.
During my research I came across the Marine Science Centre; a hub for research in sensory ecology and cognitive processes of pinnipeds located in Northern Germany, and a part of the University of Rostock’s Institute of Biosciences. Using the links with my supervisor and previous researcher at the centre, Dr. Robyn Grant, I was able to secure a four-week internship in early 2016. As I’d spent much of my time in the John Dalton laboratories or tracking precise fingertip movements on my laptop, I was eager to venture out to complete some hands on training and work with these incredible animals.
There are eight harbour seals, two sea lions and a fur seal at the centre; all of which have come from zoos around Europe and some of which have been there for many years. There are several different experiments going on at the centre, including those of acoustic and visual abilities, navigation, timing and spatial orientation of pinnipeds. The best part of the internship though was learning how to use positive reinforcement techniques and conduct my own animal training.
I had some of the best experiences ever at the Marine Science Centre! I had the opportunity to live on a boat with spectacular views of the Baltic Sea and surrounded by pinnipeds, I learnt so much about training and how a research centre really works, and met some great people who I will definitely keep in touch with. I hope to visit the centre again this summer and assist with the busier time of year, when members of the public are allowed in to watch the training and interact with the animals. If anybody is looking for a placement in Europe with training in positive reinforcement, pinniped husbandry and cognitive research then this is the place to be!