Ryan Shepherd has already been promoted to the role of operations assistant manager at Ian Farmer Associates, a geotechnical site investigation company in Warrington, despite only recently graduating.

Ryan works mainly on infrastructure projects, which includes everything from motorways and housing developments to private contracting jobs. He is responsible for the site engineers’ health and safety, and ensuring that they have the right equipment on site.

“It’s an organisational role and usually office based, but I go to site when there are issues or problems to be sorted out. I do a lot of talking,” he laughs. “I have to be diplomatic and handle client relationships carefully. I feel I have developed good management skills.”

It’s surprising to hear, then, that Ryan struggled with his grades at university.

“I loved Edge Hill from the moment I arrived, the campus life and the quality of the teaching staff and support were fantastic. But I struggled in my second year when my Nan, who I had been looking after, passed away.

“The staff played a big part in getting me through,” he says. “It’s amazing what you can pull together when you need to. In the end it’s all about your work ethic and once you do get a job it opens up other roles and possibilities.”

“It’s quite common to panic in your second and third year anyway, when the pressure is on,” he adds. “But you are soaking up more than you think you are. You have to persevere. You need to know that there’s an end result and that it will work out for you if you study hard.

“I originally chose Physical Geography because I was fascinated by volcanoes and earthquakes, but I found that I was really good at engineering geology,” he says. “You can see how your work impacts the end result.”

Ryan recently attended a Geosciences careers event where he talked about his university experience and his career with our current students.

“Moving from first to second year is a big leap,” he admits. “But all the juggling of money, social life and work pressure prepares you for life outside.”

Ryan joined his company as a site engineer and spent a year in Newcastle learning the ins and outs of the industry.

“I was travelling out to the field all the time and it was very hands on. But this gives you the building blocks for all the technical side.

“I thoroughly enjoy my job but to this day I still group chat with friends from the course. We reminisce about the legendary field trips to quarries all over the UK. I can’t stress enough how crucial hands-on learning in the field is – you can’t simulate that in the classroom, and we had great times.”

Visit our website to find out more about BSc (Hons) Geology with Physical Geography.