When it comes to advice for those following him into his field of work, environmental science graduate Andrew Fielding has a simple message:
“You get what you give. Make yourself targets, and keep asking questions until you achieve your goals. The learning never stops!”
One of the main attractions of Andrew’s role as an Analyst for JBA Consulting is just how diverse his job is, and knowing what he does on a daily basis has such a positive impact on the environment.
He works a lot with Geographical Information Systems (GIS), concentrating on programming and flood modelling. His roles include spatial assessment of flood risk for new housing developments, simulating reservoir breaches and assessing their consequences. There’s also a focus on contributing to natural flood management (NFM), exploring a shift in the way we tackle flood risks – moving from historic ‘hard engineering’ approaches to more green, sustainable methods such as upland restoration, blocking rivers and streams with woody debris, and implementing sustainable urban drainage systems.
“I love the work I’m doing, something I’ve always had a passion for. The working atmosphere is another reason I enjoy what I do. The company promotes innovation and research, which means I work in a highly creative environment. It’s nice to have the flexibility to suggest and grow my ideas, be it for project efficiency or development and research of new ways to tackle flood risk,” said Andrew.
He has no doubt about the value of his ‘fantastic experience’ at Edge Hill, saying,
“The skills and knowledge I gained have been fundamental to my career development. There are so many aspects to life at university that enhanced my prospects, all derived from the support of lecturers and fellow students. All the modules I studied provided me with baseline understanding of principles I now apply on a daily basis, from my introduction to GIS to field-work on the beaches of Portals Vells, Mallorca.”
It’s not just the educational aspect of university life that helped his development.
“Co-organising the climbing and mountaineering society gave me confidence to co-ordinate events and socials, and communicate effectively, which are paramount skills in the workplace. I was awarded ‘Edge Hill Students’ Union Society Personality of the Year 2013/14’, a huge confidence boost. This couldn’t have been achieved without the support of the university and fellow society members.
“All the opportunities provided gave me a solid foundation on which I’ve been able to build my career. When I graduated I was in a position where I was fully prepared for anything the working environment had to offer.”
Andrew remains in touch with his lecturers too, discussing opportunities for collaboration with the JBA Trust, further enhancing the education provided to Edge Hill students. And he recommends undergraduates get involved – as he did – in volunteering, something he felt “had a considerable influence on my ability to get into this line of work after graduation”.
“Between my second and third academic years, I spent four months volunteering five days a week with the Environment Agency and Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council. This gave me a good insight into the water and environment sector, allowing me to focus efforts on the type of work I enjoyed the most. The contacts I made at both organisations have been invaluable and ultimately led me to the job I have.”
That’s not to say it was without sacrifice, and he recalled,
“Between that and working part-time at a garden centre I often found myself working seven-day weeks. It paid off in the end, and I don’t believe I would be in the position I am today without being proactive throughout my university years. There’s so much competition for graduate jobs that I believe you need to make yourself stand out and really focus your efforts on the things you enjoy most.”
Find out more about our Geography and Geology programmes