Name: Jay Neale
Degree and university: MSc Aquatic Resource Management, King’s College, University of London; BSc (Hons: First Class) Marine Biology with Oceanography, University of Southampton
Job title:Assistant Environmental Scientist
What do you actually do? I specialise in surface water quality, spending as much time in rivers as possible, collecting the raw data, processing it and then reporting the findings. My work tends to form part of larger engineering/construction projects, and I am currently involved with the Olympic Park project in Stratford, East London. I am also actively involved with our river restoration, aquatic ecology, sustainable drainage (SuDS) and river geomorphology teams. This helps bring variety to my work.
What skills do you need to do that? Proficiency with various fieldwork techniques is a must to ensure that your surveys are not only safe, but also to provide you with the accurate and reliable data that you are looking for to carry out your investigation. Survey skill however, tends to be honed whilst working on the job with your colleagues. Once back in the office, you need to be able to deal with large data sets, gather the most important information together for analysis and then report on your findings, so good writing skills are also a must. As a consultant, you also need to be able to speak with various stakeholders in your project and understand your client’s needs – communication is key.
How did you know you wanted a career in engineering? I was fortunate to undertake a three-month placement with my current employer at the end of my MSc, where I was able to learn about the company and make sure that I was going in the right direction before being offered a job.
What would you like to be doing in ten years time? I still see myself with my current employer, at the level of Principal Environmental Scientist, sharing my expertise with the new generation of graduates and giving them the same support that I have had.
What’s the best thing about your job? The opportunities and projects that are available to me. I really enjoy travelling to new countries and places, and I have been fortunate enough to be able to work in Africa on several occasions, practicing my work in exciting environments.
And the worst? Ah, that’s a difficult one, as I genuinely really enjoy my job and what I do! I guess it would have to be the quality of the coffee or lack of! Fortunately I can pick up my own from my travels!
What advice would you give new graduates who want a career in engineering? Work experience is great way to get a taste for the industry, get you noticed, and in my case, get you a job! Do your homework on the companies you are interested in and apply to as many people as you can. Be prepared to have people turn you down, and trust that someone out there will say yes. Brush up on those practical skills too!