Meet our alumni: an interview with Georgia Bath
The next step 3rd August 2020
Georgia Bath completed a BSc (Hons) in Environmental and Resource Geology with the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Manchester, graduating in 2019. Georgia is now a Graduate Geo-Environmental Scientist for the major infrastructure company AECOM and in this interview she tell us how her experience at UoM led her to this role.
What A levels did you study?
I attended my local college to study A Level Geology, Geography and Chemistry. I also studied Maths to AS Level and completed an EPQ (Extended Project Qualification) researching the feasibility of carbon sequestration. Having always had a passion for earth processes and its human interactions, I was fortunate that my local college had an excellent earth science department.
Which degree programme did you study at Manchester, and at what level?
I spent three years at UoM, graduating in 2019 with a BSc (Hons) in Environmental and Resource Geology, I believe this is now similar to the Energy and Resources Pathway. I chose this course due to the added Environmental Science modules and the ability to complete my second year Independent Mapping Project whereby I spent 7 weeks living in Spain.
What is your current job title?
I am a Graduate Geo-Environmental Scientist for the major infrastructure company AECOM. I work within the Environmental Liability Solutions (ELS) Team who primarily deal in contaminated land issues and site investigations. I have been working at AECOM for 9 months and am involved in a plethora of projects from small scale to major international works.
How did your studies prepare you for your current role as a graduate Geo-Environmental Scientist? Is this a career you had wanted to pursue for a long time, or is it something you discovered whilst studying?
I count myself lucky that I have always known I wanted a career in geoscience. From attending career fairs hosted internally by the university and the Geological Society of London my interest for contaminated land and remediation was peaked. My course (ERG) provided a skill set essential to becoming a geoscience professional with the ability to tailor my modules and projects to what I was interested in – contaminated land and sustainability. My dissertation project evaluated the source of contamination within soil and water samples that were collected during my Independent Mapping from an abandoned iron mine in Spain. I had complete freedom with my research but endless support and guidance from my advisor and other EES academic staff members. Other modules I chose such as Hydrogeology and Geochemistry helped to prepare me for working life.
What experience did you need to secure your job?
During the summer of second year, when I returned from mapping, I completed a 6 week internship as an Environmental Engineer Intern with Balfour Beatty at Wlyfa Newydd, a major project developing a new nuclear power station. I knew that if I wanted a job when I graduated, relevant experience was key and presented the opportunity to network, but most importantly it consolidated that I loved working on major infrastructure projects.
Studying for a geology degree from UoM regardless of what pathway you specialise in provides excellent foundations for a career in geoscience and employers know that. I believe it’s the extra-curricular activities that show you are a genuinely interesting person which help the most in securing a job. During my time at university I was an EES student ambassador for all three years which I found really rewarding by providing insight into university life for prospective students. I was a founding member of the EES netball team, organising matches and training. I played cricket for UoM and joined the Ballroom Dancing Society, something I had always wanted to try having danced ballet from a young age. Moreover living locally in Stockport meant I was able to keep my part-time job in retail throughout my years at university. Partaking in clubs and having interests shows employers so many skills and personal attributes that you may not even be aware of!
How did you go about applying for jobs prior to/after graduation?
I started applying for graduate roles and placements at the start of my final year when the graduate schemes opened. From attending career events, networking during my internship and career sessions organised by EES I knew which companies I needed to apply for. Equally I researched recent contracts won by companies for major projects such as HS2 and thus sent my cover letter to these companies expressing interest in job opportunities. I continued this throughout the year, sending off applications and completing a multitude of tests and phone interviews. Once graduated and in receipt of my university results, I continually approached companies with my CV and cover letter. I had the belief that all applications and, if successful, interviews were excellent practice and eventually a job offer would present itself.
If this is your first job after graduation, what did you find challenging or different about working life when compared with student life?
When studying at university most work relies your own independence in order to achieve the best grade possible. This ethic is carried into my working world as we aim to win excellent client feedback which creates future opportunities. Although the day to day work I complete is done so independently, the team support network and help available was the biggest surprise when starting my new job. Someone will be working on the same project or worked on something similar who can offer guidance. Equally all reports are proof read by different people and advice is given on improvements, therefore you are never left to feel on your own. We very much operate as a team albeit our individual performances have lasting impacts, especially with respect to winning new work.
What is a typical day in the life of a Geo-Environmental Scientist?
Each day is never the same! Some days I will be working on-site monitoring and collecting groundwater samples from petrol stations or factories to measure for contaminants. Once the lab results have been received, I analyse the data using computer software and report using numerical and graphical models. On other days, I may spend half the day on-site completing an environmental audit and then returning to the office to write up the findings. I complete lots of desk study ‘Phase 1’ reports prior to any intrusive investigations and have recently been involved in writing an Environmental Impact Assessment for a site in Saudi Arabia.
Do you travel widely as part of your work?
As I am in a graduate role, the majority of my work is field based thus creating a better understanding when it comes to writing reports. The furthest I have travelled is to Glasgow to complete groundwater monitoring. Some site visits may last less than a day and other times I may be on site for over a week. AECOM is a global company with clients around the world, hopefully when I am more experienced there will be some international opportunities!
What is the impact of your work?
The impact depends on what type of project we are working on. By remediating and cleaning up a tank leak that has impacted drinking water we are potentially saving lives and mitigating other human health risks. Moreover by designing and conducting an intrusive site investigation we determine whether or not land is suitable to build on; for example mine shafts may be in existence below ground or buried material that is unsuitable for building on. Other examples of work include compiling risk assessments which ensure building foundations do not pose a pathway for contaminants. We redevelop brownfield sites which in the long term gentrify towns and areas of cities. In turn we host lots of ‘meet the professionals’ events and attend local schools promoting STEM. I find inspiring the next generation of geologists and engineers completely rewarding.
You can find out more about Georgia’s work on her LinkedIn profile.
applicationscarbon sequestrationcareerschemistryEnergy and resourcesGeo-Environmental ScientistgeochemistrygeographyGeologyGeosciencegroundwaterHydrogeologyland contaminationremediationwork experience