Kate Thompson, BSc Geography student at the University of Leeds

Kate Thompson

What is the name of the company you work for and what do they do?

I work for Atkins, specifically in the water consultancy department. They are an engineering and design consultancy that work with a range of clients such as the Environment Agency and Thames Water to help plan and create solutions depending on these companies’ needs.

What is your role within the company?

My role is to assist with the GIS aspects of projects which involves producing or adapting maps for a range of different projects such as river restoration to long term planning of water resources. I also help with the admin side of projects such as document checks on a variety of water related projects.

Can you please give me an insight into a typical day?

A typical day usually begins with working on and creating a map for a certain project and making sure it includes everything required for the client. I might have a team meeting as well to check on the team’s progress with their workload. At lunch, my colleagues and I usually walk to the village shop to get some lunch. Throughout the rest of the day I usually work on more maps or help out with other projects by doing document checks.

What do you enjoy the most and do you get involved in any interesting projects?

I really enjoy working on a variety of different projects each week which allows me to learn more about the industry whilst getting the chance to improve my GIS skills and learn new techniques that will be useful for third year! I have had further training in ArcGIS which has been interesting and helpful. 

I am currently working with a big water company to help them plan and implement schemes to ensure they will have enough water supply to meet the demand in the future. This has been really insightful and has taught me a lot about how water demands are met in the UK and how much planning is needed to provide for the future! 

Why did you want to undertake a year in industry?

I decided to do a year in industry to gain experience of the environment industry. I didn’t know much about what kind of environmental careers were available and this role has definitely helped me decide what kind of career I want to have after university. It has given me so many opportunities to explore that I wouldn’t have known about beforehand.  I also wanted to improve my confidence and starting a new job in a new place and meeting lots of new people has already made such a difference for me. 

What do you think you have got out of this experience so far? 

This role has improved my technical skills and has made me much more confident using GIS and in myself! I’ve made many new friends and has already helped me to narrow down what kind of career path I want to go on after university and what I need to do to get there. 

Do you have any tips and advice to current students thinking of undertaking a year in industry?

My advice is to persist with the placement search and don’t give up! It took me almost a year to get my placement and I’m grateful that I didn’t stop looking after a few setbacks. 

It can seem daunting at first but you will get so much out of it and learn many new skills along the way.

Also, only apply to the placements you’re really interested in as you will have to do it for an entire year!