Each year the GWCT hosts undergraduate students on ecology, conservation and IT-related degrees, offering them an exciting opportunity to spend their sandwich placement year taking part in important game and wildlife conservation research. Placements are based at both our headquarters at Fordingbridge in Hampshire and at numerous outstations and long-term projects across Britain.
The Trust has sandwich placements available to students in the 2017/18 academic year:
HOW TO APPLY
We encourage and expect our students to play a full and active part in our research, and therefore a placement with the GWCT is an opportunity to challenge yourself in the field. Our placements present opportunities to expand your experience in such areas as surveying birds and habitats; catching and tagging individuals; work with and care of pointing dogs; laboratory work; data handling, analysis and reporting; database construction; experimental design; GIS; and radio telemetry work.
Previous IT students have brought some of our old databases into the modern SQL era and helped with manipulating and displaying information from satellite-tagged woodcock as part of our Woodcock Watch project, while another developed a crowd-sourced method to identify species from camera trap photos. This is a great opportunity to acquire skills that are increasingly desirable in the field of IT and its application in a scientific environment.
For some first-hand experience of what student life with the Trust is like, a few of last year’s students reflect on how they spent the year…
Belinda Bown (Farmland Ecology)
This placement year has been invaluable and provided me with a wide range of experiences. In the lab I have done everything from insect identification to maintaining an aphid colony. Whilst in the field I have watched foraging swallows, collected thousands of insects using five different methods and discovered a variety of differently managed, biodiverse landscapes. The Farmland Ecology team have been so helpful, friendly and encouraging in getting me involved in all areas of research. Overall, not only has this year given my CV a boost, it has also allowed me to gain confidence in a variety of skills.
Jasmine Clark (Farmland Ecology)
When I first started my placement year with Farmland Ecology, I set out to do two things: to gain as much scientific experience as possible, and to have fun. Without doubt, this placement has provided plenty of both. The variety of work I have completed has diversified my skills as a biologist in a variety of ways, from being exposed to real data, to greatly improving my insect identification skills. The summer fieldwork studying swallows and agri-environment schemes also taught me lots about the trials and tribulations of trying to sample insects during a very wet summer! The team are really welcoming and keen to share their knowledge with students, and I have no hesitation recommending this placement to other undergraduates!
Will Connock (GIS/Predation)
Whilst on my placement at the GWCT I have gained experience that will continue to help me through the rest of my degree and after graduation. I have spent my time here with the GIS and Predation departments on a split placement, which has been brilliant. In the office I have had the opportunity to expand my skills with GIS software as well as other analytical programs. On fieldwork I have carried out predator monitoring in the Avon Valley and had close up views of otters, peregrines and lapwing, to name only a few. Though the best part of the placement is definitely the people, who have made this experience invaluable with their advice and friendship.
Alice Deacon (Lowland Gamebird Research)
As an LGU placement student, I have been able to work with several departments on numerous projects. This has allowed me to gain skills in many different fields of research that will help me at university and in the future. To name a few, these projects have involved tagging salmon parr, surveying the scenic woodlands of Exmoor, carrying out dissections of woodcock, and looking for extremely cute lapwing chicks! Being a part of the research team here at the GWCT has been a privilege. I will be extremely sad to say goodbye, thank you for a wonderful year!
Philip Nassr (IT)
My computer science placement in GWCT involved technical work on projects in departments including GIS, Farmland Ecology and Biometrics. It was very different to what I expected, bringing a lot of responsibilities, independently taken decisions following time constraints, and acquiring various technical skills. Of course, this turned out to be really valuable at the end.
The main projects I worked on were the National Gamebag Census and the Partridge Count Scheme. Visual Basic for applications was the main language used for both of the systems, which I managed to learn throughout my internship. Apart from my technical duties, I had the opportunity to attend conference meetings, shoot walks, and trips to Sussex and Knepp Castle, thanks to which I learnt a great deal outside the IT sector. Set around the beautiful English countryside, the GWCT was a great place to experience my placement year.
Nancy Parsons (Uplands Research)
At the uplands research unit in Teesdale, I have been lucky enough to be trained in many techniques, both in the field and the lab, including vegetation surveying, radio tracking, breeding bird surveys and post mortems of birds. My main focus has been black grouse, continuing the radio-tracked translocation project and close observations of leks. I also had the chance to work with wading birds, including the observing and ringing of lapwings, as well as surveying mountain hares and capercaillie in the Cairngorms. It has been a brilliant hands-on year, where I have gained invaluable skills.
Emma Popham (GIS/Predation)
My time at GWCT as a placement student for the GIS and Predation teams has been absolutely fantastic and I am very grateful to all the staff for making me feel so welcome. From all kinds of fieldwork and dissections in the lab to general office skills such as new computer programs and improving my Excel techniques, I have learned so much this year it’s hard to know where to begin. Highlights have been the opportunities to work with many different teams across the GWCT, where I have assisted in the likes of electro-fishing, mink raft monitoring, woodcock ringing and counts, and wildfowl surveys. For anyone looking for a placement in ecology, learning practical and office-based skills, I can’t recommend the GWCT highly enough!
How to apply
In general (though there are some exceptions) there are no closing dates on these adverts – we would strongly suggest that interested students, who know they want to work with us, get the following to the contact person listed on the advert as soon as possible and definitely by 1 January 2017:
- CV detailing A levels and GCSEs – results and subjects; as well as any graded results at University that the students have up to the date they send us their CV. Include information on any paid or volunteer activities to show both interest in science and responsibility to job or volunteer commitments.
- Covering letter (describe what they want out of the placement and what skills they bring to it – this needs to give us some idea of why they should stand out from the crowd – we really use this to select interviewees).
- References from a lecturer or tutor sent to the contact person on the advert directly.
If students would like to discuss the placement they should contact the named individual on the advert.
Please note that all sandwich placements need to be filled by individuals on a recognised sandwich programme or equivalent, while the individuals are enrolled at a university, working towards their undergraduate degree.