January 29, 2016, by Carla

How I Went From VP to PhD

Tom Storr, Graduate

While studying at Sutton Bonington (SB), I became involved in a lot of student groups. In my second year I was Vice President of the Agricultural Society, and then in my final year I was elected to be SB Sports and Activities Officer on the Guild. Alongside this, I had a role coaching men’s rugby at SB and helped to manage and coach the women’s 2XV rugby team. 

My last year at Nottingham was the most fun and fulfilling year of my degree – and the busiest. I learned new skills and made friends with people I probably would never have spoken to.

Later, when I was applying for positions, I always mentioned that I had been involved in these various student groups. It demonstrated that I had key skills, such as teamwork, organisation, time management, leadership and communication.

Between my positions on the Guild, Agricultural Society and rugby, I was never caught out when asked for an example in an interview. Be it organising the Welcome Fair or putting a clothing order together for the society, I always had something to say. If you are considering a position on the Guild or within a society then I would definitely recommend that you take it up.

Finding the right path for me

After graduating, I wasn’t successful in all the interviews I went to, but I always came back from the experience having learned something. I had interviews with McDonalds and Frontier for a placement year, but I wasn’t selected. At McDonalds, I answered a fact about the main selling point of their free range pig policy incorrectly, which probably didn’t do me any favours. Then at Frontier I was told I wasn’t commercial enough, which is fair enough as I don’t have the personality to sell things to people!

After much deliberation I decided to return to studying and I am currently in the third week of a three-year PhD in soil science at Cranfield University. The PhD broadly covers organic amendments, cover crops and tillage for G’s Growers with a view to improve both yields and soil management for their crops.

It wasn’t until my last few months at university when I was writing up my dissertation project in no-till farming that I thought I’d like to continue learning about this subject area. I also found that completing work experience, both paid and voluntary throughout my years at Nottingham helped form an idea of what I wanted to do.

You never know what’s around the corner

When I was sending off applications or going for interviews I always prepared as best I could. I used the advice of Gemma and her team, who helped check my CV and covering letters as well as answering my silly question about applying for two PhDs at the same time.

In interviews, I always tried to relax and by seeing them as a discussion, I quite enjoyed them. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t get what you’ve applied for – there will usually be something else around the corner. This was the case for the PhD I am doing now; I had applied for two other PhDs previously before being successful.

If you’d like to hear more graduate stories, join us for Gateway to Careers: Sutton Bonington Alumni on 10th February 2016. To book a place, log in to My Career and search for event ID 5436.

Are you making the most of the opportunities available to you during your time here? Why not book an appointment with one of career advisers to discuss your options.

Posted in Alumni StoriesChoosing Your Career