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Kalisha Sandland

Animal Department Administrator and Senior Animal Keeper at Yorkshire Wildlife Park. Studied BSc (Hons) Zoo Biology

 

My time at NTU was just the best. I made friends for life, I pushed myself right out of my comfort zone, and I felt supported in doing it. That encouragement was everywhere - from my tutors and lecturers to the Employability team.

The University gave me the sense of direction I needed, and they developed me professionally and personally. Best of all, they opened my eyes to a profession I’d never really thought about, but have since fallen absolutely in love with!

I’d say my proudest moment was securing a placement at Chester Zoo, working in the carnivore department. Between that placement and what we learned on campus, I built up so many networking and communication skills. That’s really helped me in my current role, where I’m working with zoos from all around the world. Multitasking, managing workloads, logistical skills - these were all things I learned on my course, and they’re all crucial parts of my work today.

I was in my final year at NTU when I got my first paid keeper role. I’ve travelled widely since then, working with conservation programmes in South East Asia, and I now work as the Zoological Registrar for Yorkshire Wildlife Park. In my current role, I’m responsible for the welfare of an ever-expanding collection of animals, and I’m also educating our visitors about conservation and the environment.

Looking back to my studies, I can’t emphasise enough how important experience is - and it doesn’t even need to be paid. Attend as many field-related workshops and conferences as you can, and not just to learn but to get your face our there too! This is a competitive sector, and networking’s really important. So from one NTU student to another, my advice would be simple: grab every single opportunity you can. Get involved with things you wouldn’t normally do, because the opportunities you’ve got to grow are fantastic. Build up a professional network, work hard, and make the most of those long summers with work experience or a placement. Because in the end, it all pays off!

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