Trinity Term was busy with alumni visiting the School to share their career stories with our current students.
As part of their mini year group reunion in May, four alumni from our MSc in Environmental Change and Management (ECM) 2000-01 (pictured right) met the current ECM class to give insights into their careers and advice for the next steps.
Their message: Be passionate. Be a generalist. Try different jobs. Be intellectually confident. Network. Make the most of the alumni community!
A week later, 5 SoGE alumni (pictured left) visited the department to talk to the leaving MSc cohort about their various careers.
Sara Grimes (NSEP 2007-08), talked about her work as Corporate Sustainability Officer at Bath and North East Somerset Council. Rebecca White (ECM 2003-04) shared the joys and sorrows of working in academia. Geography alumnus Sam Bickersteth (1980-83, Christ Church) chaired the panel and gave insights into government, NGO and consultancy work, following his career path from the DFID via Oxfam to PwC, where he now heads the Climate and Development Knowledge Network. Praveen Gopalan (ECM 2005-06) made an interesting career transition from a small start up to the sustainability team at BBC Worldwide, and Daniel Barron (NSEP/MPhil 2010-2012) who recently joined PwC in London, was eagerly questioned about his first steps into consultancy. Alumni Careers Adviser, Dr Mike Moss, provided a cross-cutting perspective and explained how the University's Careers Service can help - now and later on in life. The discussions continued over drinks and nibbles and only the sound of the hoover could split the group and put an end point to an afternoon of fruitful alumni-student relations.
How to do a PhD in the US
Geography alumna Sarah Feakins (1998-2001, St Catz) recently came back to Oxford to foster a new collaboration with Professor Yadvinder Malhi's Ecosystems Group. While she was here she offered to talk to students who are interested in doing a PhD at a US university.
Sarah made the UK-US transition herself: After she completed her undergraduate geography degree at Oxford, she went on to do a PhD at Columbia University in New York and a post-doc at the California Institute of Technology before she started her current position at the University of Southern California (USC). As Associate Professor of Earth Sciences she uses biogeochemical analytical approaches to answer intriguing questions about climatic and ecological change.
15 Geography and Earth Sciences students came to the lunchtime session at the Department of Earth Sciences. They learned how to write a personal statement by "putting themselves on the paper" without being too fluffy. They also learned how to deal with the diagnosis of "deficencies" that may occur when changing educational systems between the UK and US.
Do you like being out in the field or do you relish any minute spent programming in front of a computer? Questions like these helped make the students realise that while the topic of a PhD was key to how happy and successful they would be with it, the way they worked on the PhD and the required methods and techniques they used also needed to suit them too.