Water Vole

Coventry University Placement Student

Degree course: BSc Geography (Sandwich) Coventry University

On my degree course students have the option to partake in a years placement between their second and third year. I chose this option as I felt that a year in a professional working environment would provide me with vital experience to enhance my employabilty after graduation. I attended a talk at the University by the Managing Director of Middlemarch Environmental, Dr Philip Fermor, and was instantly interested in the opportunitiy to spend a year working within an ecological consultancy. I subsequently applied and was offered the placement which ran from 4th July 2011 to 29th June 2012.

Key roles during my placement

My main role within the company was within BREEAM and Code for Sustainable Homes workstream. I worked along side the BREEAM Manager and assisted in the writing of specialist reports. The reports produced  are fully complient with governing guidelines and cover the distinct categories of the ecology chapter. Although my role was mostly office based I also gained much experience in the field, especially in peak surveying season. I assisted ecologists in undertaking a range of protected species surveys including bat, water vole, reptile, great crested newt and badger surveys.  I was also able to gain a basic understanding of extended phase 1 habitat surveys and aboricultural assessments.

Critical reflection

In retrospect my placement has given me invaluable experience within a consultancy.  I have extended my knowledge greatly concerning protected species and furthered my understanding of their  prefered habitats. I have also gained experience of a number of practical surveying techniques. Most profoundly I have learnt about the need for sustainable building design and the imprortance of considering ecological issues in the planning process.  In addition to knowledge gained, this placement has helped to enhance many personal skills such as written and verbal communication and working to deadlines.  I feel that the  knowledge and skills gained throughout my placement will really compliment my studies in my final year  at university  where I aim to specialise in areas such as biodiversity, conservation and issues of sustainability. I believe that this year of professional work experience has provided me with a firm knowledge base in which to build upon  in pursuing my career within the environmental sector.

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