Jennifer Smalley

Jennifer Smalley is studying MSc Environmental Impact Assessment and Management. Here she shares her experience of studying the course.

On choosing my course at Manchester

Jennifer Smalley

Manchester is my home city, and I couldn’t think of anywhere better to study. The topic that most excited me during my undergraduate was EIA and the course here sounded exactly right for me. Manchester University is a great place to learn and its Russell group status is an added bonus.

On my study experience

For each module there are a couple of hours of ‘live’ contact time scheduled per week, some have live workshops on top of that. This year lots of material has been provided for us to work through between the live sessions and usually takes about 2 hours to complete each week for each module.

I don’t think I was expecting the step up from an undergraduate to a postgraduate degree to be as big as it is, but you learn so much in one year that makes you so much more employable that the hard work is worth it.

Despite the odds, I have met some really great people so far and it’s great that we have had lots of opportunities to network and gain an insight into potential careers from past EIAM students as guest speakers.

Unfortunately due to COVID-19, we haven’t been able to go on any field trips but the staff at the University have been brilliant at adapting and for one of our modules we had a virtual field trip to a nature reserve.

On my placement experience

As part of my course, I am in the process of carrying out a professional work placement with VolkerStevin Ltd an engineering solutions company that operates UK wide. Here I have been working with members of its environment team to gain practical experience in working in my dream sector. I am currently working on helping to identify recycling opportunities to divert waste from landfill as part of the companies sustainability strategy. This experience will definitely have boosted my employability.

On student life 

Manchester is a friendly and vibrant city that offers more than just a world-class university. I think the best thing about Manchester has to be the music! I absolutely love the Manchester Academy.

This year I joined women’s football and also signed up to be a student rep. Joining a sports team or society has been the best thing I have ever done at university. You get to meet so many different people from different countries and different courses making it a great place to make amazing friends and memories, it’s also a brilliant way to take a break from your studies and just have fun.

On my plans after graduation

I have been very lucky to land myself a summer internship at Mott Macdonald in Environmental Consultancy which is a complete dream come true. If it wasn’t for my MSc and previous work experience I don’t think I would be in this position. My time at Manchester has allowed me to follow my passion that little bit further, whilst significantly boosting my employability.

On my tips for aspiring students

Do as much as you can during freshers week. Just put yourself out there everyone else around you is most likely feeling exactly the same as you.

Join a team or society there are so many to choose from there has to be something that interests you even if you’ve never done it before beginners are always welcome.

If you are undecided, like I was, in doing a master’s degree I say just do it. It’s only one year and will most likely help you get to exactly where you want to be.