Name: Charlotte Kent
Years at Keele: 2015-2018
Course studied: BSc Single Honours Physical Geography
Degree award: First Class
Current employment: Flood and Coastal Risk Management Officer at the Environment Agency (Thames Area)
Following graduation from Keele, I was unsure whether I wanted to undertake further study on a MSc Coastal Engineering or MSc Environment and Climate Change course, or to put the knowledge and skills I developed from my degree into the ‘real-world’ of employment. Given my indecisiveness, I decided to spend a couple of months of the summer holidays travelling around Australia, with the hope this would
aid my decision. Whilst in Australia my passion for coastal and fluvial environments grew. Out of curiosity, I searched for jobs in Australia and found a couple which became of interest to me, including ‘Graduate Coastal Engineer’. This made me realise the career path I wanted to take and on return to England I searched for similar jobs. After a few weeks of searching for jobs I came across the role of ‘Flood
and Coastal Risk Management Officer’ at the Environment Agency and applied directly via their website. Upon which, I was successful.
How did you get your current position and what did you learn on the BSc Single Honours Physical Geography which helped you get the job, or helps with your role now?
Alongside an in-depth geographical knowledge, the BSc Single Honours Physical Geography course provided me with a range of skills, including technical report writing, data analysis, Geographical Information Systems (GIS), critical analysis, organisation and time management, and communication. The collection, analysis and interpretation of flood-risk data required for the Hydrology and Oceanography
(hydrology report) and Water Resources (hydro-geological risk assessment) modules are key to my current role in linking hydrological description and flood risk, and subsequently suggesting appropriate flood mitigations strategies to reduce flood risk. This also strengthened my interview as I was able to confidently demonstrate knowledge of, and experience with, geographical data which is currently utilised by
the Environment Agency.Technical report writing was an extremely useful skill which has enabled me to undertake flood risk assessments, environmental impact assessments, and environmental planning and permitting in my current role. The analysis of coastal recession data and application of GIS during my third year dissertation has allowed me to determine the influence of coastal defences on coastal recession, and therefore suggest appropriate and effective coastal defence structures to reduce coastal erosion risk to people, property, and the environment.
What does your role involve?
As part of the Partnership and Strategic Overview team, I am responsible for working in partnerships to develop an understanding of, manage, and reduce the risk of flooding and coastal erosion on people, property, and the environment. I provide flood risk advice on planning, determine flood risk permits, and act as senior user on flood risk schemes.
Have you got any advice/top tips for a prospective students interested in a similar career?
You’re university experience really is what you make it. What you put in, you get out. Every module you study can create an opportunity; every person you meet can create a friendship and/or wider academic opportunities; every opportunity you’re given to succeed can be achieved. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. The staff at Keele are very approachable, supportive, and specialised in their area of expertise. During my time at Keele, the staff helped build my confidence and realise my potential. Regarding job searching, don’t be put off applying for big, well-known companies. When leaving university it is easy to think “I’m not good enough” or “I don’t have enough work experience for that job”, but if you show passion and enthusiasm, and can prove your potential there’s nothing stopping you.