Course studied: BSc (Hons) Environmental Science
Graduating year: 2014
Job: Laboratory technician (preparation and analysis of water and soil samples) at Jones Environmental Forensics.
Rob graduated from Bath Spa with a degree in Environmental Science. He currently works at Jones Environmental Forensics.
"Leap on any opportunity for work experience/knowledge/field trips/talks. Become immersed in the culture of Bath and the South West."
What have you done since graduating from Bath Spa?
For the first few months after graduating I began looking for a job, any job within the field of environmental science alongside other applications which looked interesting. During this time I took driving lessons (an important life skill and essential for nearly all jobs!) and qualified in January. I also volunteered at a local scout group.
After many unsuccessful applications and a couple of interviews I was offered a temporary position with the Royal Mail at a local sorting depot during the three weeks leading up to Christmas. Working the late shift (2pm – 10pm) is exhausting work but it was a step in the right direction to getting a more permanent position in the field of my degree. I was stationed at ‘outward parcels’ and I can now see why Royal Mail is notorious for breaking things(!).
During my time at Royal Mail I discovered a laboratory specialising in environmental testing called Jones Environmental Forensics [www.jones-environmental.com] located on Deeside Industrial Estate close to where I live. I immediately sent them an eMail asking if they had any positions available or could offer work experience. I was offered an interview and was accepted as a permanent laboratory technician.
What is your current job?
I currently work within the metals department in the preparation and analysis of water and soil samples by Inductively Coupled Plasma Atomic Emission Spectroscopy (ICP-AES).
We use several preparation methods for water and soil samples and can analyse for every metal in the periodic table (depending on what the client is looking for). The majority of the clients are environmental consultants working alongside developers, quarries, landfill sites and local authorities. Samples range from locations within the UK to South Africa and South Korea, which leads to very varied samples from cores of rock to river sediment.
Typical day in the job
My typical day revolves around a normal 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday in the Lab. The first job of the day is usually the temperature profiling and calibration of the equipment we use to prepare the samples. The bulk of the day is taken up by the preparation of samples for subsequent analysis.
My particular area of expertise is soil preparation using three methods of acid-digestion. Standard reference solutions have to be prepared to run alongside the samples. The results are then sent to the project managers and on the client. I also do stock-takes and ordering for the metals department and deal with some client queries.
Most favourite part of your job?
The varied nature of the samples and what suite of analyses the client wants is very interesting. Also the diversity of the metals we test for is fantastic from arsenic to zirconium, I really enjoy the pure chemistry in action, helping our clients to identify contaminated sites (or areas that might be viable to exploit for resources!).
… least favourite part?
We sometimes get samples which contain high concentrations of uranium, arsenic, asbestos and cyanide, which is unnerving.
How did your course at Bath Spa help to prepare you for employment?
My degree has definitely helped prepare me for my current role, particularly my third year module ‘Environmental Consultancy’ which gave me an insight into what it might be like as a consultant. This has allowed my to better understand the professional relationship Jones Environmental Forensics has with its client portfolio. Other modules have also helped me understand why our clients need these tests doing and where Jones fits into the sector as a whole.
Best experience/memory of your time at Bath Spa?
My best experience has to the Bath Spa samba band Bloco Talento, the varied gigs around the country (from Plymouth to London!) and great family and party atmosphere I think is a great way to round off a student lifestyle at Bath Spa.
Top tip(s)/advice for current Bath Spa Biologists/Environmental Scientists?
Crack on with assignments early on so they are easier to amend and add to later. Leap on any opportunity for work experience/knowledge/field trips/talks. Become immersed in the culture of Bath and the South West. Join as many societies/clubs as possible for great fun and for a break from studying (great for defeating mind blocks when writing essays).