In episode 50, Stella tells us about working in the field, Masters as a mindset and knowing your worth.
Each episode is a snapshot, a moment, a sneak inside the minds of our graduates. As the world emerges from pandemic paralysis, are our Class of 2021 feeling inspired or inhibited, glad or gloomy, chaotic or calm?
Welcome to Season 2, a little bit of the same but quite a lot different. Subscribe now and find out what everyone is up to and how they feel about life, the last 12 months and future plans.
All opinions expressed are those of the individual and do not necessarily reflect those of the University of Edinburgh.
Multi Story Edinburgh has been created and produced by the Alumni Relations team at the University of Edinburgh. If you are interested in telling your story, please get in touch and let's talk.
Music: Since When by Mise Darling from freemusicarchive.org
Artwork: Vector created by pch.vector from www.freepik.com
Sonia 0:09 This is a snapshot, a moment, a sneak inside the minds of our graduates. This is season two, Class of 2021. A little bit of the same, but quite a lot different.
Stella 0:23 My name is Stella and I just recently graduated from the MSc programme in GeoEnergy from the University of Edinburgh. So after I graduated, I immediately moved to England and started a job. And actually, I had a short overlap, where I was still finishing off my dissertation, and working simultaneously, which I wouldn't necessarily recommend. I work as a researcher now as a research associate for the Centre of Ecology and Hydrology. So I'm definitely fortunate to actually be working in my field during these strange times. I'm definitely a person that becomes a bit nervous, let's say when I don't have anything lined up. So already, at the beginning of the year in January, February, I was starting to think like, what is it I'm going to do after? And I was thinking about PhDs and about jobs, and I was open to both. The job here that I have now is the only job I applied for in the end, and I thought I was going to do it during the summer. But then actually, I got invited for an interview and got the job. And it's been great so far. So I'm a Greenhouse Gas and Soil Carbon Specialist, it's my current role. So I work on different projects that focus broadly on greenhouse gases associated with soils and how to remove them, and how to better understand them. I do lab work and field work, I just went to Wales at the beginning of this week, and data analysis, because the skill set required for the job was so broad, I can benefit really from my undergrad, which was in Environmental Geosciences, Environmental Earth Sciences. I also definitely benefit from what I learned during the Masters. I think, if I hadn't done the Masters, I wouldn't have been looking for the job. Because even though it was like a one year programme, and I definitely got interested in more things, and then also gave me time to sort of just expand my interests, rather than just my skills. I really became really interested in enhanced rock weathering, and how to use natural processes to remove greenhouse gases, particularly co2 from the atmosphere. And that's one of the projects I'm involved in now. So it's really exciting.
So when I was doing the Masters, or when I was deciding to do the Masters, I was looking at something applied because I felt like I already had a very good foundation when it came to theory. And I did have a broad skill set and there was a bit of a disconnect between having these skills, and then applying them to actually do something good and useful with them. And then GeoEnergy, it's obviously something very future oriented. It has the potential to be used to improve the world, which sounds a bit cheesy. Ultimately, I guess, you know, we are in this really bad situation when it comes to climate change and change needs to happen. And I've always wanted to enable that in one way or another. GeoEnergy as a Master's definitely felt like it was pushing me into that direction more and into the direction I wanted to be in. My passion/drive is coming from loads of different areas, I would say. I'm in the first place, I'm just finding it really interesting. I love being outside and understanding what I'm seeing, this is probably one of the reasons why I wanted to go into Earth Sciences in the first place. But then, with climate change, I feel like it's often a topic that is not discussed as much as it should be. I mean, it's often used to create panic almost. But then when you ask people about their understanding about it, it's definitely lacklustre, and I went to a talk a few months ago, which actually showed this really well. And it was all of the people working sort of in academia or in like industry positions, but you know, everyone had PhDs and so on, and in science subjects, and there was a talk on climate change and the urgency of making changes, but also climate change, like what is it? And there was a q&a after and I realised that look-- just looking at the questions how little people knew. And I think sometimes when you're in science, you forget that people don't know everything you know, but then that's a really big problem when it comes to climate science because people assume that everyone understands the urgency and the solutions, or potential solutions to it and the things that need to be done and how we study climate change, but people don't. And I think that's also part of what I want to do is expanding the knowledge to people that currently aren't aware of it so much. The more I learn about it, the more scared I get. But the more opportunities for improvement I see at the same time. And I mean, there's definitely a need to act, but there's also potential to act. So I think it's important to be realistic, but not overly pessimistic. And obviously, I think very few people are overly optimistic about it.
I was living in Edinburgh, but I wasn't-- I never really went on campus, because obviously, with all the restrictions you couldn't, so I think I went three or four times. Which means I feel a little bit just disconnected from Edinburgh Uni. It's an amazing city, so-- but I still enjoyed being out and about and there was snow in February. I love snow, so I was really happy about that. I know I have a Master's from the University of Edinburgh, but it just doesn't-- I don't really have any connection to the Uni. When I moved away from Edinburgh, I needed help to basically move all my stuff and I needed someone with a car. So I just messaged in our like, GeoEnergy masters group, like is anyone keen to drive me? And someone kindly offered to do that. And obviously, we had quite long car journeys, we chatted, and we got along really well. And then we were thinking, you know, all this time, everyone was just working at home, not really engaging with anyone from the course because it felt weird to reach out and be like, oh, do you want to go for a walk to people you've never met. But in hindsight, looking back now it would have been great to meet people. And yeah, would have improved everyone's experience I think. Putting yourself out there and even if you feel slightly uncomfortable, like for example, reaching out to people you don't know, just do it, it might be awkward in the beginning, but you'll benefit from it ultimately. And I think that's something that I've done before the pandemic, but I've really realised during the pandemic, and I'm doing more now and I would recommend that to anyone.
I'm definitely someone who's prone to sort of think where I want to be in a few years but doesn't mean that I necessarily act upon it. But it definitely influences my decisions. But I think over the last year that's lessened, especially-- I think it's lessened for a lot of people because everyone had to realise that you can't really control things and even if you make plans especially now, you don't know. You know if I book a flight to go to a place far away for next summer I don't know if it's going to be possible. So yeah, I'm trying to go a bit more with the flow and to relax. I mean for now I have my contract to work for a few years at least and yeah, I'm just going to enjoy that and see, see where things go.
So I would say I was already quite confident beforehand. And you know, I knew my, my worth and I think that's really important. So I mean I think anyone should really know that. And don't undersell themselves. I don't think it has anything to do with bragging or you know not being modest or anything. It's just, it's a healthy approach and it's going to pay off in loads of situations. If you just have a healthy amount of self love. Knowing that I have this safety net in the form of my like family and friends is a big point. I have like a support system in place if you want and I know that even if something doesn't go according to plan, I always have that. I never have to doubt that which obviously that is like very deep rooted confidence. Yeah, I'm really thankful for that as well obviously. But then also if you put yourself into challenging situations which I would say I've always done, you always will come out of it with something that you've learned. Sometimes things go wrong but then things also go right and then obviously can take that like pride in yourself and say like oh I've achieved this and I think that creates confidence as well.
Sonia 9:43 We also ask our graduates to share a place, somewhere special, somewhere we can get together when all this is finished.
Stella 9:53 My happy place where I would take people is definitely the sea. Ultimately this is one of the reasons why I came to university in Scotland, its guaranteed access to the seaside within I think it's 40 miles no matter where you are. I grew up quite far from the sea. And I think it was always this like special place we went to once a year. And just like the wide horizon and having the waves come in and so on, just being able to walk by the sea for ages, just relaxes me and, you know, puts things into perspective as well. It's a good place to think and that's where I would definitely take people probably have a barbecue by the sea. The Baltic Sea is one of the places where I've spent a lot of time and then obviously, the Scottish North Sea coast, definitely a favourite as well.
Sonia 10:45 Thank you for listening. Join us next time for another graduate and another story.
Kirsten 10:57 Feeling inspired by what you've just heard? Take the first step to getting the career you want by contacting the Careers Service. As a recent graduate, you can continue to access all of our services, including access to vacancies on mycareerhub, practice interviews, our full calendar of online employer events and online appointments with one of our careers consultants. Find out more at ed.ac.uk/careers.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai