The University of Southampton
Engineering and the EnvironmentPostgraduate study

Nicholas Stayt BA Human Geography, 2014; MSc Integrated Environmental Studies, 2015

Graduate Environmental Consultant (AECOM Infrastructure and Environment Limited)

Nicholas Stayt's Photo

The opportunity to study several engineering modules during my time at Southampton has helped to provide context for the role I am currently in at AECOM, as I work alongside civil, structural and coastal engineers on a daily basis to deliver projects.

What made you choose Southampton?

I chose the University of Southampton because of the modules that I could study as part of my course and because of its reputation. Initially I looked at the University because it is one of the top in the country for environmental science. The course stood out to me because it enabled me to follow my interest in environmental protection whilst allowing me to develop on my engineering and biological knowledge base.

What were you anxious about before coming to Southampton, and once here were these fears unfounded? How did Southampton help you settle in and help you belong?

When I first started, I was anxious about the gap from my Human Geography undergraduate degree to postgraduate study. After the course induction and the first week of lectures, it became clear that the lecturers are always there to help. As the classes are much smaller groups you begin to develop a personal bond with lecturers who can provide support with any issues throughout your time at university.

What were your Southampton ‘highlights’?

My Southampton highlights involved making great memories both inside and outside of lectures and meeting friends for life. It is also a great sense of achievement when you celebrate at the graduation event.

What other activities did you take advantage of while at University?

For the duration of my time at the University I was part of my halls football team, competing in the intramural league. Being part of this team offered an opportunity to meet new people on a range of courses and across different stages of university life.

Did you have the opportunity to study modules outside of your core subject area, and how have they added to your success after leaving the University?

The opportunity to study several engineering modules during my time at Southampton has helped to provide context for the role I am currently in at AECOM, as I work alongside civil, structural and coastal engineers on a daily basis to deliver projects.

Did you have any exposure to employer involvement or research-led learning during your course? Did this help you join your chosen field or industry?  If so, how?

Whilst there was not direct contact with potential employers during the course, we were presented with opportunities to work closely with organisations in the vicinity of Southampton. These opportunities were part of two modules where we were put into groups to act as an environmental consultancy producing various types of environmental documentation to fulfil the requirements of our clients. These opportunities provided an insight to what a future role in employment might entail and helped me to focus on roles that would offer opportunities in topics I enjoyed the most.

What did you enjoy most about your course?

The aspect of my course that I enjoyed the most was the learning environment that the course was delivered in. The way the lectures were presented were on a much more personal level and there were lots of opportunities to break out into discussions on topics in question.

What networking, employment and work experience opportunities did you undertake and did they enhance your Southampton experience?

There were networking and employment opportunity events held throughout the year. These events offered the opportunity to speak to previous students about what they do now and how they got to where there. In addition, towards the end of the year lecturers often circulated emails relating to potential employment opportunities.

What is Southampton like as a place to study?

Southampton is great place to study, the campus is great and offers study areas and break out areas both inside and out including the computer labs and the gardens. Being a campus university it means that everything that you could need is only a short walk away from the lecture theatres with the library offering the opportunity for group study.

What have been the highlights of your career to date?

The highlight of my career to date is working on a range of significant infrastructure projects in a variety of sectors across the UK. I have provided input to a range of projects during the planning stage in the waste water, coastal management (erosion management and flood protection), rail and residential sectors, with lots more opportunities on the horizon.

How did your time at Southampton help you to grow as a person and help you get to where you are now?

During my time at university I was faced with situations that I hadn’t experienced before. These situations helped me to develop new skills and to become more comfortable and confident in public speaking and when presenting. These are skills that I now use on a regular basis in the working environment.

What advice would you give to a student starting their degree at Southampton?

My two pieces of advice are as follows: from an educational perspective, don’t be scared to ask if you don’t understand; the lecturers are there for you. It is better to ask the people who know the answer for help when you need it than spend hours trying to find out yourself.

From a social side, don’t be shy to try new things. Join a club or society that you have experience in or even if you just want to see what it’s like. This is the best way to meet new people with similar interests to yourself.

What tips would you give to current students looking to start a career in your sector? What could they be doing now to make themselves more employable when they graduate?

Keep in contact with lecturers, as they often have links to consultancies who are looking to employ graduates or have opportunities for summer/part time placements in the industry. Exploring opportunities to become a member of a relevant professional institutions can also be a great way to get noticed by employers.

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