- Course: BSc Zoology
- Company: Cheetah Sanctuary (South Africa), Mauritian Wildlife Foundation (Mauritius)
Ella studies Zoology and spent six months in South Africa working in a cheetah sanctuary and a second placement in Mauritius working with the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation.
Why did you choose the University of Leeds?
I chose the university of Leeds, as I believed it offers the best education and resources for course. The facilities that are offered also played a major role in my decision. I liked that the university is a research university; it’s encouraging to know that the professors and lecturers have real experience in the field. Another aspect that attracted me to Leeds was the opportunity to take a year out either by doing a year abroad or a year in industry.
What have been the highlights of your time at the University of Leeds?
The friendships that I have created over my years at Leeds are one of my highlights.
How have the facilities (libraries/labs etc.) helped you get the most out of your degree?
The facilities have been excellent. The updates that were done on the libraries have created great places to study. The lab staff were very helpful in assisting during practicals, and the equipment in the labs were kept to a great standard.
Have you joined any student societies/sports clubs at the university? If so how has this enhanced your time at the University?
When I first arrived at Leeds I joined ZooSoc and FoBSoc and these societies were great to get to know the people that were embarking on biology related degrees. I also joined the lacrosse society; this was also a great way to meet people.
What key aspects of your experience of Leeds would you highlight to students thinking about coming do the same course?
I would say the key aspects would be the staff, the lectures are engaging and informative. They are also helpful when you have questions or need support with assignments. There are also great opportunities to go on brilliant fieldtrips to get a taste of what it is like working in the field. The opportunity to have a year in industry or abroad is excellent. The university has great links and also provide advise on what would be best.
What are your ambitions for the future? Do you have specific career plans? Has the Faculty (careers centre/lecturers etc.) helped you with these goals in any way?
I would like to use my zoology degree to pursue a career in conservation. From doing my year in industry it has increased my passion for saving endangered species.
About my Industrial Placement
Where did you do your placement year & what was your job role?
I did two wok placements. The first was for 6 months in South Africa working at a cheetah sanctuary, providing husbandry for the animal and also educated the public about the needs to protect cheetahs in the wild. My second placement was in Mauritius where I was working for the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation. My role was to monitor a population of songbirds to record their numbers to keep track of how well established the population had become.
Why did you decide to do a year in industry?
I decided to take a year in industry to further my knowledge also I thought it was a great way to have a glimpse of the working world and to create contacts for after graduation.
Could you describe a typical day on your placement?
A typical day at Cheetah Outreach was to do the morning husbandry that involved the feeding of the dogs. The waters for the animals needed to be cleaned and the handlers would feed the cheetahs. Then the facility would be opened to the public. The volunteer’s job was to should members of the public round with a tour and answer any questions. There would also be encounters with a cheetah and the volunteer would be in charge of the public’s safety.
At the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation they day would start with putting the food out on the tracks for the birds. Then food would be put out in the aviaries and the birds visiting the aviary would be recorded. For the rest of the day searches would be carried out to monitor the birds in the field. Also there would be nest watches to see if they had activity.
What were your key responsibilities? How did these develop as your placement progressed?
The key responsibilities at Cheetah Outreach would be to give the public the best experience. But also to make sure that the animals had a safe and clean enclosure.
In Mauritius there were other key responsibilities. The birds must have food and water at all times. The health of individuals also needed to be monitored and any issues must be reported.
What was the real highlight for you?
The real highlight for me was getting to travel to some amazing places and experience different cultures. Meeting people from different backgrounds was also great.
What aspects of your degree were relevant to your placement?
For the data collection and entry in Mauritius the field courses and university practical’s became very useful.
What opportunities has your industrial placement opened up to you?
While doing both my placements I met many people and created contacts that are involved in conservation, which is the field I’m hoping to go into once I graduate.
How can you envisage your year in industry being relevant to your career prospects in the future?
My placements helped me to be able to teach the public about the needs for conservation but also I was able to do conservation work myself. These are both important aspects of conservation so I believe that they will benefit my highly in my future.
What advice would you offer to other students considering doing a year in industry?
I would advise them to make sure they find a placement that incorporates aspects that they find interesting. Talk to other students that may have done the same placement to get their advice. Also get advise from their personal tutor.
Student support is an important part of a successful placement. How did the university support you during your year in industry?
Despite being in distant locations I was able to contact my personal tutor and my supervisor if I needed support.
What were the most enjoyable and most challenging aspects of your placement?
Exploring new environments and experiencing different cultures was a big highlight. In South Africa it was so amazing to build bonds with the animals.
The living conditions in Mauritius were slightly challenging with very little running water and electricity.