I learned to dive with the diving school and then was able to plan part of my placement year to be marine conservation. Potentially one of the best moments of my life so far and a hobby I still do.
More about Rory
We spoke to NTU alum Rory about his NTU memories and his current role as a Laboratory Teaching Technician at the University of Nottingham.
Why did you decide to study at NTU?
I chose to study at NTU because I knew I wanted to do a degree involving exotic species as well as conservation and biology. During the NTU open day I had a completely different experience at Brackenhurst compared to the other universities I had visited. I knew that I would love being on that campus and the degree had all the components I was looking for.
What did you learn during your time at NTU?
I learned an insane amount not just in terms of academic knowledge, but life lessons and the wider world. Here are just a few examples:
- Before studying at NTU I didn’t really know anything about parasitology. We delved into it in my health and disease module, and I found a love for how adaptable, complicated, and brilliant parasites are and how they are vital for the ecosystems they are found in.
- One of my lecturers was part of a scuba diving school and introduced me to scuba. I learned to dive with the diving school and then was able to plan part of my placement year to be marine conservation. Potentially one of the best moments of my life so far and a hobby I still do.
- I did a placement year abroad which allowed me to learn a lot about the wider world and how to be able to travel independently and safely. During my travels I had some of the most stressful events of my life however, those situations have now given me great life skills and memories to look back on. Also working in a beautiful country living on a beach and diving with amazing oceanic species is always something.
Throughout my degree at NTU I learned a lot about myself and what I want out of life and a career. I am happy that my experiences of being a student mentor and working in the labs have helped me into a career working in student labs teaching and supporting other degree students in subjects that I love.
What makes you smile when you look back?
A lot of the best memories are small things, being able to walk to see the cows on campus. Taking a lecturer’s dog for a walk. Seeing a lecturer with an owl just chilling. Having a laugh with the lab techs about how you have been obsessing over ticks. Being able to sit with a lecturer as if they were a colleague and discuss areas of science as interested equals breaking down the boundaries for the love of science.
Brackenhurst is like a community of its own, so the staff are able to get to know you on a more personal level. I was invited to meetings and events where my input as a student was valued, especially as previously students weren’t included in these. I still have a laugh when I remember walking into the foyer and the employability team would somehow always rope me into being in a meeting or doing a little job with them.
What attracted you to your current field of work?
I wanted to work in education, specifically science, as I am passionate about it and have enjoyed being a mentor to students as well as teaching the public about scientific principles. As I wanted to still be involved in lab work and higher-level science, a university teaching technician role gives me all I wanted and more. I am involved in the teaching and education of students, but I also get to continue learning. It has also provided me with opportunities to be involved in sustainability, developing the student experience and being able to bring my own interests into the work we do.
What have been the highlights and biggest challenges of your career so far?
I am now the “go to guy” in my team for the use of our HD microscopic cameras as I really enjoy using them. They are like a cool scientific toy, so I have spent a long time training with them and learning all their features so that we can get the most out of them. I even wrote a quick guide to assist my colleagues and academics in using them. Even highly experienced and respected staff come to me for help with using them.
I initially struggled with time management and priority management, as there are always multiple things that I need to do and a lot of them need to be done at the same time. Fortunately, over time I have been able to adapt how I work to best organise my time and rely on colleagues to assist me at times where there are too many tasks that need to be done at once.
Another highlight would be being involved in a careers talk in which myself and a range of staff from the university spoke about our career pathways. I had quite a lot of interest from students and I really felt like I was able to support those students in understanding some of the factors that you have to consider when deciding on your career.
For my current role, I moved back to Nottingham and most of my university friends were no longer around. I had to rent somewhere to live and so finances became a concern as it was a bit of a leap of faith. However, it has been almost two years now and I am looking at buying a place in Nottingham and I have been able to make new friends and gain new hobbies all from taking a risk.
What are your plans for the future?
Currently I love where I am. I enjoy my role and want to be the best I can be at my role. I would like to get involved in more projects in the future to do with supporting and shaping the student experience as well as working with the sustainability team to support the university in becoming more sustainable and assisting in conservation. If I enjoy what I do, that’s what matters to me.
Finally, is there any advice that you can offer to our current students?
You are at university to study and attain a degree in a topic that you love or that opens doors for your future - that is important, and you should try your best. However, don’t forget to enjoy your university life, take time to have a laugh with friends. Take advantage of the range of activities available to you. Do something that you may not have the opportunity to do again. Appreciate what you have and live in the moment.