Kathryn Hooley

Kathryn studied BSc Geography, followed by MSc Environmental Monitoring, Modelling and Reconstruction at The University of Manchester. She graduated from her master’s in 2018 and is now a Graduate Consultant in Flood Risk and Hydrology at Arcadis, a global consultancy firm.

On choosing The University of Manchester

Kathryn Hooley

The University of Manchester’s Geography department had an excellent reputation and performed well in league tables.

I was particularly drawn to the University because the geography course was really flexible, allowing me to pick the course units that I wanted to study.

I had also really liked The University and Manchester itself when I had visited previously.

On choosing a career path

I had no idea what job I wanted to do prior to my master’s degree.

I picked geography as it was my favourite subject at school and I wanted to keep my career options open.

Towards the end of my undergraduate degree and during my master’s degree I started to specialise more and then found out about the job I do now in the first couple of months of my master’s degree.

On my career development since graduation

Since graduating from University I have been working in the Flood Risk and Hydrology team at Arcadis.

We provide flood risk and hydrological information for all kinds of projects for a range of clients.

I do hydrology calculations, build computer models to simulate flooding, analyse flood risk data and write reports.

I joined Arcadis through the graduate scheme.

It has been almost two years since I finished university and so far my career has been great.

I enjoy working in a discipline that I have always been really interested in and it has been great to be on the graduate scheme which has focussed on developing my transferable skills.

On my responsibilities at work

So far I have been working on a broad range of projects within the Flood Risk and Hydrology team and am now starting to identify the areas that I want to focus on more.

I have gained experience with writing environmental impact assessments, generating flood hydrographs, computer modelling to simulate flooding and writing flood risk assessments to support planning applications.

Day-to-day I manage my own workload and have the responsibility of organising what I am working on each week according to project deadlines.

I work collaboratively with others in my team and often with people from different disciplines.

I am also responsible for supervising our team’s work experience students.

I am mostly office based but I regularly go on-site visits and attend training sessions at other offices.

On how my courses prepared me for my career

My courses developed my transferrable skills (eg report writing, analytical skills), as well as technical knowledge, especially around rivers, catchment hydrology, flooding and climate change.

The course units I studied during my master’s year were very beneficial, especially the course units which involved work experience and using software that I now use in my job.

The most surprising takeaway from my course is how much my confidence has developed.

I am now much more confident to speak my own mind and I do not hate public speaking as much as I used to.

On my advice to aspiring students

I would say go for it.

Studying geography gives you so many options and it is great that you can tailor the course to suit your interests.

The field trips are also amazing and the staff and facilities are great.

In regards to going to university more generally, I would say don’t worry about the student debt that you will be left with afterwards as I barely notice my student loan repayments going out and you don’t start the repayments until you hit a certain salary.

The University of Manchester is a brilliant place to study and the support you get outside of your studies is also fantastic (eg the Careers Service and the facilities you have access to).

Whoever you are, you will find something to interest you at Manchester – there are so many things you can get involved in and Manchester is a diverse and exciting place to live.

Finally, I would also add, take as many opportunities as you can and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it, there are loads of people that can help you.