My month in glorious Devon
After completing my undergraduate degree in Wildlife Biology BSc (Hons.) in 2015, I still didn’t have my driving licence or a car. A quick look at any jobs website and you will see this is an essential skill for a career in ecology. So the following 2 years were spent in customer service; saving and working towards this goal. When I achieved this at the end of 2017, I was determined to get my ecology career started.
I knew after two years I needed to refresh my knowledge and skills, so I began looking into courses online. When I came across Acorn Ecology’s Certificate PLUS course, I knew it was exactly what I was looking for. The content alone was fantastic, but the inclusion of work experience was hugely appealing.
Before my month began, I was nervous that I wouldn’t know enough to do a good job. However, I needn’t have worried as the induction and training given by the team in my first few days ensured I was well equipped for the weeks ahead.
In my first week alone, I learned how to carry out three different types of bat survey and how to analyse the data using Analook. Learning to identify between the different species calls has been one of the highlights for me, and I’ve loved studying British Bat Calls by Jon Russ alongside this. I’m astonished at how much I’ve learned since week one.
I’ve visited some amazing sites doing bat surveys and the early mornings and late nights haven’t fazed me in the slightest. Standing there in the dark, as the detector twitters away and the bats swirl about my head; I know I could never grow weary of these moments and the excitement they bring. The UK (Devon in particular) has twice as many bat species as Ireland so I know this experience will stand me in good stead wherever my career takes me.
Another highlight this month was carrying out habitat surveys and getting more experience mapping in the field. I love botany and have relished the opportunity to learn more plant species during these visits, especially those that aren’t as common to where I’m from in Ireland.
Of course, with surveys comes report writing. I’ve loved learning about the different requirements for each type of report, and how to structure them in a professional way. The guidance given by the team meant I was feeling confident in assisting them with the reports and drawing maps by my second week.
As well as all the practical skills and knowledge gained over the past month, I’ve also learned so much about the industry. The team have given me a great insight into the profession and the different things I need to be aware of.
This month has also allowed me to explore what Exeter has to offer, and it’s safe to say I’ve fallen head over heels with Devonshire’s glorious landscape. From soaring cliffs and glittering seas, to the breath-taking moors; I’ve been spoiled with my surroundings this month.
At the end of July I had a meeting with Sue where I assessed my goals and priorities for the future. Having an experienced ecologist share advice they’ve acquired over 15 years in the industry is invaluable and has left me feeling very motivated!
The Certificate PLUS course isn’t just about ecology; it’s also about empowering yourself and believing you can have the career you want. The support given to me by all at Acorn has been incredible and my placement has been the springboard I’ve needed to get my career off the ground.
Prior to doing this work placement, I would look at jobs in dismay as I couldn’t meet many of the experience/skills required. Now, I meet pretty much all of the criteria. I’ve already begun garnering interest from recruiters and and am so excited about what the future holds.
We were very sorry to say goodbye to Sinead. During her 4 week placement she has been fantastic and is going to be a great addition to any ecology team out there lucky enough to hire her! Well done Sinead!
If you’d like to learn more about our Certificate Course in Ecologoical Consultancy, take a look HERE. If you’d like information about when the Certificate Course 2019 is open for bookings, or to hear more about our courses, why not sign up to our newsletter HERE?