Jessica Sanders graduated from the University of Greenwich in 2018 with a first class degree in Geography BSc (Hons). She trained to be a teacher but found the pull of university life too strong, and now works at Greenwich’s Medway campus as an Employability Officer. Jessica took five minutes out of her day to talk to NRI Communications Officer, Linden Kemkaran about her love of Geography, her passion for dancing and what it’s like to be back in student-land…
“When I was studying Geography for my degree, the programme was incredibly interesting and varied. We covered meteorology, climate, chemical analysis of rivers, air pollution, and some human geography - for instance - why cities are getting hotter.
I chose the University of Greenwich as the programmes had more physical geography elements compared to others, and when I came to an open day, I found everyone to be really welcoming and friendly and the facilities, like the lecture theatres for example, were all excellent. The Medway campus in Chatham also had the added benefit of being close to where I lived which was a really important factor as I didn’t want to commute or live away from home.
I really enjoyed it all and now that I work here on the same campus I sometimes fantasise about how nice it would be, being back in lectures! My favourite part of the programme was the field trips, being able to put into practice what we did in the classroom. We visited Spain, the Lake District and the Peaks.
Geography was always one of my favourite subjects. At school I had a brilliant teacher which probably explained why I was inspired to become a geography teacher. I’ve always been quite focused; I left school and went straight to university – no gap year or working. Then from university I enrolled on a teacher training course, then I taught for a year and now I’m back here. I did love teaching, but I found the trouble with teaching was that the workload for a new teacher is so heavy I just decided it was too much for me at that time.
Also, when I was young, I was very much into dancing. My childhood dream was to become a dance teacher but my passion for geography took over and I concentrated on that, but I still compete in Latin dance competitions now as part of a drill team.
The best part of working here at the university is that I’m still involved with education, I speak to the students and drop into lectures; I feel I have kept the best parts of teaching without the high workload and stress. My role here is to help students find placements in the workplace and then monitor them while they’re there. I also help with the application process, so I look over any application forms, help with writing covering letters and get the students into contact with people in industry etc.
The placements happen within the programmes so the students can do the summer placements which are 6–12 weeks long, or they can opt to do the sandwich course which means taking a year out to complete it. I help them apply, check they’re doing alright when they’re there, and make sure the employer is looking after them.
This job doesn’t specifically use my geography qualification but my transferable skills are being put to good use all the time. It’s so nice coming back here to work, I always loved being on the Medway campus, with its sense of history and the beautiful old buildings and I can still use all the facilities we did as students. It’s great that I know my way around already and see lots of familiar faces in my day-to-day work.
The advice I’d give to anyone considering studying geography as a subject is just do it! It’s such a varied and interesting subject and it can lead to so many career options. It gives you a wider perspective when you graduate and you can apply to most jobs rather than being narrowed down to just one particular path.”
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