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The University of Southampton
Geography and Environmental Science

Ellie Blacklock  BSc Geography, 2015

Graduate Development Programme, Veolia UK

Ellie Blacklock 's Photo

Hi, I'm Ellie Blacklock and I studied BSC Geography within Geography and Environmental Science at the University of Southampton.

One of the best things about the Veolia Graduate Development Programme is that I get to move location and sector every 6 months, so in my next placement I will be working within either Energy or Water.

Q: Why did you choose the University of Southampton?
Firstly I chose Southampton because of it being a Russell Group University with a great reputation and brilliant run of academic results, as well as having a lovely campus. But my main reason for choosing Southampton was actually discovering about the international exchange opportunities on the geography open day, which really appealed to me, and hence when I got a place at Southampton and arrived, I immediately enquired about it, and got myself a place.

Q: What did you enjoy about studying at Southampton?
I enjoyed being taught by all the lecturers with different expert areas, as well as forming relationships with them. It was great to have a brilliant group of academics in the Geography department offering unique modules and intellectual insights. My love goes out to Steve Darby and Sally Hayward especially. I think the campus is lovely and the Hartley Library is a brilliant resource, so definitely make the most of it when you’re there! In particular the plethora of electronic journals - you will swear by them!

Q: Were you involved in University clubs and societies?
I was part of both the Swimming and Yoga societies, however the society I made my closest friendship group in was Theatre Group. I don’t know what I would have done without this society, and anyone joining the University with a love for performing, or even directing and producing, MUST join this club. I found my best friends here and hold my dearest memories with them. It is also vital, I believe, to find a society that you love and to get stuck into it because it’s brilliant to have an escape from all the academic work.

Q: Did you take part in any study abroad schemes?
I went on an international exchange to the Western University of Ontario in Canada for a semester in my second year, and it was the best thing I have ever done in my life. For anyone even contemplating the idea of going on an exchange, I strongly advise to go for it. The experience, adventures, confidence and memories that I now have, cannot be bought. Whilst it is challenging to complete your Southampton exams out there within the first month, after that stress has gone it was just incredible. Please, everyone, for your own sake, go, and just throw yourself into it, because I promise you, you won’t regret it.

Q; What are your plans for the future?
Currently, my future is in the shape of a two-year Graduate Development Programme with Veolia, allowing me to follow my passion for sustainable energy. After this, I hope to move back out to Canada through the company, get a dog, and work my way up in the Sustainable Energy Sector.

Q: Do you have any advice for anyone thinking about studying at Southampton?
For anyone thinking of studying at Southampton, I would again say, take a look at the exchange opportunities because it really was the best experience of my life. I would also say to enjoy your first year, I personally found it hard to stop working flat-out after A-Levels and really wish I’d taken the time and freedom to really just enjoy it and become a key part of a society. I strongly advise joining a society because you will find your true friends there. Work hard and just make it worth the while. It’s only three years of your life and whilst at some times you may hate it, you will never forget it, for the better I promise!

Ellie has secured a position on the Graduate Development Programme at Veolia and is currently working as an Assistant Project Manager.

Could you describe how you came to develop a passion for sustainable energy?
I’ve always had a passion for sustainable energy. It came along with my love for geography. I’ve always cared for the environment and animals, and feel passionate in looking for the solutions to save our planet. This embedded interest lead me to writing my dissertation on the use of district heating and the use of waste heat as an energy source. Selecting climate change related modules at university really helped to expand my knowledge on energy and the requirements of the future.

Could you describe your role at Veolia and any projects you are currently working on?
My job title at Veolia is Graduate Trainee. Currently I’m working in the Waste Sector of Veolia as an Assistant Project Manager, alongside the Transport Manager in the implementation of a new transport system to improve the transparency, efficiency and performance management of the transport fleet here. I’m responsible for a lot of data analysis, and performance reporting, which I’m really enjoying. One of the best things about the Veolia Graduate Development Programme is that I get to move location every 6 months as well as sector, so in my next placement I will be working within either Energy or Water.

Are there any particular skills you developed during your Geography degree that helped you in your application to Veolia
Firstly, in simplest terms, I wouldn’t have got this Graduate Job without my degree! My experiences in data analysis throughout my Geography degree have really helped me feel comfortable with the numbers I see day-to-day at work, able to create sophisticated visual aids. University in general has also made me great at multitasking and a fast worker! My geography degree has provided me knowledge in climate change and sustainable energy, topics which are embedded in my work done at Veolia.

What does your role at Veolia mean to you?
My role at Veolia, to me, means an opportunity to make a difference, to make a change to the world by working for a company that is finding the resource solutions for the future. As a graduate, it has gives me the chance for development, personal exploration and the change to invest myself into a company and enter myself into the sustainability industry. It also is a personal achievement to me, that all the hard work I put in at university, was completely worth it.

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