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The University of Southampton
Geography and Environmental ScienceUndergraduate study

Caroline Fuller Geography BSc2012

Caroline Fuller's Photo

After my second summer placement the Met Office offered me a job, so putting effort into the placement really paid off!

How did you get the placement?

I heard about the placement during the final term of my second year via e-mail as one of the lecturers sent out an e-mail to everyone letting us know that the Met Office were running summer placements. I wasn’t really sure whether to apply as I didn’t think I would have enough qualifications or enough experience, but I went for it anyway, seeing it as application practice if nothing else. There was a template for the application form so it was pretty simple to fill in, the usual ‘educational achievements’ and ‘employment history’ along with a box to explain your ‘suitability for the role’. I did it in one afternoon, had it checked by my Dad and posted it off.
I didn’t hear from them for just over a month and then I got an e-mail inviting me to a telephone interview. I prepared for that by familiarising myself with the Met Office’s website and by trying to develop an understanding of Service Management (mainly through Wikipedia). The homework paid off and I was offered the placement the next day.

What did the placement involve?

My placement involved a huge range of things – no photocopying or making tea though. I was given real jobs to do that directly contributed to the objectives of the team. I designed and completed an audit for a European ocean monitoring and forecasting project, working with colleagues in 14 different production centres around Europe via e-mail and teleconference. I was also involved in the verification of the National Severe Weather Warnings that the Met Office issue. This later became the background to my dissertation so proved extremely valuable work as it allowed me to undertake an original and interesting piece of research that I hugely enjoyed. Alongside these two main tasks I learnt to take minutes, organise meetings and how to handle myself in an office environment. I was also lucky in that there were nearly 30 other placement students working over the summer, so there was a pretty good social side to my placement too, meaning that despite up and moving to Exeter for three months I was never lonely.

Has it made you want to work at the Met Office as a career?

Most definitely. It is an amazing place in which there are so many opportunities to learn, both about business and science. During my placement I was able to attend talks given by experts from all over the world about a huge range of topics, from aerosols to mapping to NASA iphone apps! These are targeted at those working in science but they are attended by anyone who is interested. I have come back on a second placement this year and am working in a different department now so I am able to see a completely different side to the office. I am considering applying for the forecaster training, although I need to brush up on my Maths and Physics first, so maybe one day I can live the weather girl dream.

What advice would you give to current students?

I cannot recommend enough putting yourself out there and applying for anything you can. My placement definitely helped me in the hunt for graduate jobs as it gave me things to write about on applications and real examples to discuss in interviews. The experience is invaluable. Plus, even if you’re not lucky enough to stumble across what you like, you may stumble across what you hate, and ruling those options out is sometimes just as important.

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