Leah Starkey graduated in 2011 having studied Marine Biology. She is currently a tutor for the Field Studies Council (FSC).
Why did you decide to study at Swansea University?
On attending an open day at the university it just felt the right place for me. I loved its proximity to the beach, and really liked the look of the biosciences department. I also really liked the fact the department had a boat which they seemed to use frequently.
What did you enjoy most about your course at Swansea?
The chance to develop practical field work skills on the Gower Peninsula and on the field trip to Millport.
What are you doing now career-wise?
I am now a tutor for the Field Studies Council (FSC) at their centre in Rhyd y Creuau, North Wales. Here my primary role is to provide environmental education to groups (from Key Stage 1 right through to University students) – this is usually divided between geography and biology. The centre is a residential centre, so my role also involves getting stuck into tasks such as overnight duties and general tasks to keep the centre running smoothly.
How has Swansea University and your course helped you with your chosen career path?
It has provided me with the ecological knowledge I need to teach the groups we have coming to stay. On a more personal level my time at university allowed me to develop other skills such as money management that you need on a daily basis.
What are the most challenging parts of your job?
The long hours (teaching days are 8:30 to 20:00), and dealing with some potentially tricky situations (e.g. dealing with fire alarms at 4am).
What are the most rewarding parts of your job?
Seeing the development of my students from when they arrive to when they leave, over such a short time – usually just a few days). Also getting good feedback from the visiting staff.
What was the best careers advice you were given?
I was always told to work with children – definitely a wise move for me, and feel immensely lucky that I managed to achieve this whilst still being able to keep up my passion for ecology.
What advice do you have for current students and new graduates?
Get as much work experience as you can during your summer break! I did not do this so my first year after graduating was spent doing a full time voluntary placement.
What are your plans for the future?
For now I am extremely happy with where my career is at. Over the next few years I wish to develop myself further as a tutor through research. Eventually I may do a PGCE and become a secondary biology teacher – but only when I’ve finally had enough of being out in the rain and snow!
What have you done that you are most proud of?
Proved myself wrong – I’ve always been fairly low in self-confidence, and have had times when I have felt like giving up thinking I wasn’t capable.
What are your favourite memories of your university years at Swansea?
The strong sense of community. Being able to go out on a whim knowing you’d find people you knew!
And finally, describe yourself in 3 words…
Caring, Reliable, Conscientious