Kelsey Ferris has a work-placement most people only dream about. The University of Waikato student is heading to Nottingham in the UK this month to complete a year-long internship at the British Geological Survey.
She’ll be based in their inorganic chemistry labs working on a range of commercial and strategic projects linked to environmental geoscience research. “A lot of my work will be ultra-trace element determination, and I’ll also get to choose a research project that relates to my interests in biochemistry and agriculture.”
Kelsey comes from Whareora near Whangarei, attended Whangarei Girls’ High School and has just completed her third year of a Bachelor of Science (Technology) majoring in biotechnology, but she has also taken management and agribusiness papers.
Kelsey is one of a handful of Golden Jubilee scholars, high achieving students who were awarded a fee-paying scholarship in 2015 to celebrate the University of Waikato’s first 50 years.
“I came to Waikato because I knew I wouldn’t hack the city life in Auckland, and I was also drawn to the agriculture opportunities that Waikato provided. I did look around at what other universities offered, but Waikato’s BSc(Tech) stood out because of its hands-on work placement. So the scholarship gave me an amazing opportunity to follow my passion for science and extend my love for discovering the unknown.”
Kelsey says right through her uni years she’s been pretty diligent about doing her work and doing it well. “The great thing about uni is that it opened my eyes to just how big the world is and also how achievable dreams can be if you back yourself and give it your all. I haven’t just taken away knowledge from my studies, I’ve found a family of friends and discovered what really drives me to achieve.”
The BSc(Tech) requires students to do work placements and placement co-ordinators help students to perfect CVs, cover letters, practise interview questions “and everything in between”.
“They make sure we are being challenged and looked after while out in the work force. I heard of the Nottingham job through a placement coordinator and decided there was no harm in applying. I never imagined I would get an interview, which made the call saying I had been offered the job even more surreal.”
Kelsey plans to take time to travel while she’s based in Nottingham, including Anzac Cove on Anzac Day and ballooning in Turkey. She has a 12-month fixed-term contract with the possibility of extending it to two years.
“I have always wanted to get some work experience overseas and this university work placement has been the perfect opportunity for me to take that leap with an incredible amount of support behind me. At this stage I have been told of three students who have already taken the same placement: two never returned to New Zealand, so all I will say is I have no idea what the future holds, except that the sky is the limit.”