Full name: Amy Bloom
Degree title: Chemical Engineering Meng (Hons)
Year of graduation: 2018
Name of the organisation where you work: SUEZ UK
Job title: Business Improvement Specialist
What does a typical day in your job look like?
I’m not sure a typical day exists…as with any job flexibility is key!
Alongside engaging with account managers and customers to understand what waste materials are being produced and the problems they cause for disposal, I also work on internal Suez engineering projects. For both the former and the latter, we research solutions and develop tasks to move materials up the waste hierarchy!
What has been the highlight of your job so far?
My favourite part is when I get out of the office, put on my PPE and get to see the production processes and plants that generate waste. I find it incredibly interesting to see how things are made and I can never look at the end product in the same way again. Alongside this, having the opportunity to move waste up the hierarchy, working to develop novel techniques for waste processing and seeing what I learnt at university being applied into real life are parts of my job that I enjoy. I am fortunate to work in a great office environment and a supportive team who are always willing to help me learn.
What skills have you developed in your role?
In a role where I meet different people all the time, one of the most important qualities needed is the ability to communicate professionally with a wide range of people and having the self-confidence to do so. Also, although it is important to have strong technical skills to understand the overall application of the waste treatment, frequently foreign types of waste are thrown at us or are produced in a process that is new to me, so I need to be willing to learn and have the confidence to ask questions!
How has your current role shaped your career plans?
I have always been interested in the environment and knew I wanted to pursue a career that would enable me to make a real, positive difference to it – but this was quite a broad goal!
Since school, I have worked several part-time jobs and was always surprised by how much waste is generated on each shift, irrelevant of the industry and thought something needed to be done.
Then I met SUEZ at an university event, Blue Planet 2 was released and things soon fell into place, cementing my decision to want to work in the waste industry. The single-use plastic issue has captured the public’s conscience and I am excited by the changes that are being made, but there is still a lot of work to do.
How did you secure your role?
Aston were hosting a Women in STEM event, where students could network with female leaders in industry and research. I have always been interested in the environment and had undertaken a circular economy-related research project in my final year. At the event, I started talking to a representative from SUEZ where we discussed a broad range of topics, including graduate employment and I was made aware of the opportunities at SUEZ, so I applied and was successful!
Did you secure your role when you were still a student? If so, when and where did you start looking for a role?
I secured my role during final year and started working two weeks before my graduation ceremony! Everyone at uni was so supportive when I was job hunting and there are a lot of great resources including the Aston Futures portal which I know a lot of people used.
Did you do a placement or gain any other work experience (e.g. part-time job or volunteering) before securing your graduate role?
I undertook a 13-month contract placement in the New Product Engineering Department at a pharmaceutical manufacturer where I designed, installed and commissioned equipment to support the research and development of batch and continuous processes. This work experience allowed me to apply theory that I had learned at university to practical installations.
My placement year was challenging, but I had such a great time and loved the work; which helped to confirm that I wanted to stay in a technical role after graduation. I always recommend for students to get work experience as part of their degree as it helped me develop in confidence, allowed me to move to a different part of the UK, becoming more independent.
What advice would you offer to final year students or other recent graduates looking for a role?
I would say, don’t be afraid to give things a go. Even though it might not be what you are initially expecting, or seems out of your comfort zone, getting your foot in the door and making strong networks is, in my opinion, the best piece of advice I could give. Moving between and meeting other teams has been a great way to start, has helped me learn about things I didn’t even know I didn’t know and prepared me for the world of work!
Also, keep on top of news – things are continually evolving and it is great to show in interviews that you understand the breadth of the sector you want to work in.