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Deakin University

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Nicholas Carter

I am still involved with the research that continued after my Honours year.

About you

What did you study at undergraduate level and when did you graduate? What are you studying now? Are you studying and working at the same time?

My name is Nicholas Carter and am an Environmental Scientist with the job title of Graduate Ecologist. I studied a Bachelor of Environmental Science (Wildlife and Conservation Biology) between 2013-2015 and then went on to further study in by completing a Bachelor of Environmental Science (Honours) in 2017 with a distinction. I am no longer studying, but am still involved with the research that continued after my Honours year and am seriously considering starting a PhD in the near future. 

What have been the most important stages of your life?

  • Finishing VCE
  • Getting my drivers license
  • Getting accepted into university and graduating with a distinction
  • Travelling to Peru with university and volunteering in the Amazon Rainforest for 4 weeks. I made so many memories, new friends and developed new skills here.
  • Getting accepted and graduating Honours with a distinction
  • Being involved with all the research whilst completing Honours and continuing that research after study
  • Publishing my Honours thesis
  • Volunteering abroad and interstate
  • Moving houses to become more independent
  • Getting two highly esteemed environmental jobs within a short span of time to start my career 

How did you get to your current (or most recent) job position and how long have you been working there?

Networking played a big role in applying for and getting my current positions. I have qualifications and certificates, heaps of skills and volunteering experience and am a friendly and respectful person which definitely helped in the job application process. But what I believe really set me over the line was having those key contacts which helped me out by informing me of the available job position as well as recommending me to fellow colleagues. Networking combined with my experiences/CV enabled me to get two environmental positions, both which I have only had for a short amount of time (~3 months).

About your course

What made you decide to progress with further study?

University was always a big driver for me and I never considered not pursuing it. In saying that, I also wasn't completely aware that university wasn't the only option to get qualified in my field of work. Going to several different Uni Open Days and seeing the results and opportunities that university gave you, only further inspired and motivated me to travel down the university pathway. Being the first person in my family to go to and complete university was also a big personal motivator for me. 

How did you choose your particular further study course (compared to others)? / Were you weighing up any alternative degrees or career pathways before choosing this qualification?

Since I was a kid, I always wanted to study the environment, conservation and animals to help 'save' the world. I first started investigating to study at a different university in a similar degree, but going to Deakin's open day really sold the university to me. Once I picked the university, I started looking at their degrees and that's when I came across the Wildlife and Conservation degree. I was tossing up for a while between the different Environmental Science degrees, but for some reason the Wildlife and Conservation one really stood out to me an sounded like a fantastic course to study. I loved every second of the course and am so grateful I chose it and got accepted into it.   

What was the process to get accepted into your course? What were the prerequisites?

I had to meet a certain ATAR score through VCE which I was successful in doing so. In terms of prerequisites, I only had to achieve a minimum score of 25 in English in VCE which I was also able to do. Applying for university, for both my degrees, was a much simpler process than what I originally though it was going to be. 

What does your study involve? Can you describe a typical day? (if it’s difficult to describe a typical day, tell us about the last thing you worked on?)

My 3 year bachelor required me to do a range of units covering all aspects of environment, ecology, conservation, wildlife and biology. It involved going to lectures, workshops and tutorials; working in groups to finish assignments and give presentations; as well as doing fieldwork locally and on camping trips to gain important skills in environmental research. 

Pros and cons

Will this course be beneficial in your career? Where could you or others in your position go from here? Please explain your answer.

Both my degrees are vital to developing and furthering my career in the environmental field. There are of course other ways to get into the environmental field, but not having any kind of qualification and still getting a job is a rare thing to occur. Environmental science is a very broad aspect of science which can lead you to many opportunities such as becoming a ranger, researcher, field technician, consultancy or working in government organisations. 

What do you love the most about your course? 

I loved the diversity and support I experienced throughout my courses. I learned so much about so many different environmental, science, biological and work related things, that I'm still putting that knowledge into practice today with my current positions. Meeting like minded people and creating fantastic memories throughout the courses was amazing as well. I'm so grateful for the opportunities and experiences my degrees gave me and highly recommend the course to anyone else considering studying environmental science. 

What are the limitations of your course?

My course did come with some limitations compared to those that might study a similar course through TAFE. For example: university is more theoretical and goes down the academic pathway which means in all senses that it is less hands on. People who study a environmental diploma in TAFE get more of those important hands on skills (e.g. species identification, machinery operation, weeding). All in all though, those more hands on skills can be easily learned through volunteering to make you more job ready. 

A word to the wise…

Which three pieces of advice would you give to a current undergraduate student? They don’t necessarily have to be related to your studies, or even to one’s professional life.

  • Give everything a chance at least once, you never know what you'll take from the experience and it might give you opportunities that you didn't even know where available.
  • Don't give up when study/life becomes too hard, all your hard work will pay off and you definitely will reap the rewards.
  • Volunteer and network as much as possible! It really is two important key aspects of any field of work to make those contacts and get those skills.