Sarah Cresswell

Graduated from SAMS UHI with a BSc (Hons) in Marine Science in 2012 and is currently employed as Probationer Teacher

What does your job involve?

I am a teacher of Biology and general science in a secondary school in Falkirk. Once I have completed my 'induction' year I will be a fully qualified teacher

How is what you studied at university relevant to your job?

A lot of the marine science degree focusses on using presentation skills to communicate information about the science you are studying, my third year project, the science communication module and my dissertation were all helpful too..  Because the degree was based on many aspects of science and not just biology I have found it easier to teach the lower years in general science (i.e. including chemistry and physics) where other graduates with pure biology degrees have struggled. There are many aspects of the Curriculum for Excellence which means that my background in marine science can really help to enhance learning experiences for my pupils.

How did you get into your current job?

The staff at SAMS, were incredibly helpful in guiding my choice of career when I realised life as a research scientist wasn't for me halfway through my degree. They helped me to narrow down the variety of possible study choices and jobs to the point where I could decide for myself that teaching was the right thing for me. Following this, I did a lot of work experience in the local high school and made the most of the links between the SAMS communications department and primary schools in the area to visit and take part in outreach work. I was also lucky to be asked to work with STEMScotland and became one of the many STEM Ambassadors at the marine lab which further increased my involvement. I was careful in the final two years to ensure that my course choices did not only reflect my interests but made up sufficient biological content for me to qualify for application into the teaching profession. I had to apply to the General Teaching Council during my final year at SAMS which was quite stressful as it is an intense process, but thankfully the first round of interviews happened while we had some time 'off' in January so I could focus my attention on it without missing lectures or labs. Having been offered a place on the course following this first interview thankfully there was no need for any further interviews.

Where do you see yourself going with your career in the future?

I hope to qualify fully in the next year and then either find myself a permanent teaching job in or near Oban. Alternatively my fiancé and I are considering moving abroad and taking the skills and our professions with us to kick start a new life. Obviously I would be looking eventually to take on more responsibility and perhaps move up into management or guidance roles, but I need a LOT more experience first!!

What advice would you give current students?

Decide where you want to go from your degree early, you can always change your mind later but having the degree isn't enough on its own. Get as much relevant experience to your intended career as you can alongside getting good marks in your coursework - potential employers and universities distinguish between candidates based on their extra work, so get on internships, help out with research going on in the lab, find funding for your own summer project or find an opportunity to gain experience in the relevant field as often as you can - grab the opportunities put in front of you with both hands then go find some more! As well as showing your commitment, this gives you a chance to make absolutely sure it is what you want to do - with teaching in particular, it’s a whole different kettle of fish to what you imagine before you experience it!