Alumni profiles

  • Alison
  • Physical Geography, 2010
  • Chartered Land Surveyor at WSP

Why did you choose to study your course at Newcastle University?

Of all my subjects in school I really enjoyed Geography and the opportunities it gave for you to ‘get outdoors’. This course provided ample occasions for me to do this in the form of field courses and very practical modules giving hands on and vocational experience in a variety of ways. I didn’t know what future career I wanted so I particularly liked the multi-disciplinary aspect and its associations with the school of Civil Engineering and Geosciences meaning a broader choice of modules going forward and a chance to build a wider skill base. Before I began my university degree at Newcastle I wasn’t even aware of the courses available in Geosciences despite the two disciplines and departments being closely linked and am glad I got a taste of everything. I also visited the university on an open day and felt the university as a whole offered me everything I was looking for.

What did you like the most about your course? Did you do a placement in industry or project with industry? If so, how has this experience helped you in your career?

I loved the variety of module choices and the hands on aspect; especially during the modules in surveying run by the Civil Engineering and Geosciences department. Using the latest technology to learn a valued and vocational skill both out in the field and through computer based analytical practicals. I didn’t participate in a formally run placement in industry but I was inspired to find out more about my career options and went to work for a summer at a survey company as an assistant surveyor between my first and second year and thoroughly enjoyed it. I also applied for a vacation scholarship between my second and third years working with the Geosciences department and this placement formed the basis for my undergraduate dissertation. Taking these opportunities at an early stage in my career I was able to establish what I actually wanted to do, and as a result I feel I am more enthusiastic about my job and have direction for my future progression.

How would you describe the city of Newcastle upon Tyne?

Newcastle is a cosy yet vibrant city. Everyone is very friendly and the campus being situated at the top of the main pedestrian precinct kept the university integrated with the city. The variety of activities available to you is vast, you’re only a stones throw from the coast or the countryside too.

What do you think about the clubs and societies that you could join? If you were a member of one, what sort of activities did it involve?

There is a huge list of societies and clubs to join! I joined both sporting and musically related societies and eventually helped to run one in my final year. The social aspect of the societies is a lot of fun but I also enjoyed the fact that some gave back to the community in the form of concerts and charitable events.

Where did you live? Was it easy to find somewhere?

I have lived all over the city and loved everywhere I’ve lived. From Jesmond to Tyneside, Heaton to Fenham. I never had any trouble finding somewhere, there is so much choice and the transport links are fast and frequent from most areas.

Where do you work now and what does your role involve?

I started work in a private surveying company and I work now within the Topographical Survey Team of a large consultancy firm. My role involves many different disciplines including: Prospecting for work, bidding and tendering, production of survey scopes and method statements, risk assessments for site visits, spending a lot of time on site gathering data to the clients specifications using a variety of modern instrumentation, the chance to travel nationwide, working with other in-house teams, use of specific software packages in order to produce detailed drawings and 3D models and the delivery of data to clients. There’s so much going on!

How do you feel your course or other activities you were involved in at Newcastle contributed to you achieving your career goals?

I think the industry support from the Geomatics side of the course certainly helped to push me in the right direction. Talks from external industry speakers, careers afternoons held with 10 or so different company directors/representatives from large petrochemical companies both land based and offshore to smaller independent ventures. I also think that the opportunity to mentor/demonstrate to other students in the final year of my course gave me mode confidence in my abilities and there’s nothing like cementing your own knowledge than having to explain it to someone else. There was a strong emphasis on working with industry standards and I think this sets the right attitude when it comes to approaching any workplace. Courses within Geomatics are accredited by The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and the Chartered Institution of Civil Engineering Surveyors and they really do set you up to succeed. Since leaving Newcastle I have continued my studies elsewhere and recently have become chartered myself. The encouragement from everyone I met at Newcastle; staff, colleagues and peers has continued since I left in 2010.

What support did you have from the Careers Service during your time at Newcastle?

The careers service helped support networking events held for students with industry professionals and encouraged engagement in any opportunity open to you. They held informal drop in visits and suggested many careers which I didn't even know existed. Some of which aren't for everyone!

Were you involved with the Students' Union (societies, sports, sabbatical officer) during your time at Newcastle? If so, how has this impacted on your career after University?

My involvement in societies was intertwined with support from the Students' Union. Without funding from the union and backup from admin staff we would not have kept our society running. If anything you quickly learn you cannot make everything work on your own.

Our alumni Alison working in the field using measurement tools