I started working as a sub-contractor for Arbtech during bat season in 2021. I then returned for the 2022 bat season and began leading surveys in the north, as I’d got to know several consultants well after working with them regularly, which gave me more responsibility and experience.
Every consultant I worked with during this time was super helpful and there to answer any questions I or any other sub-contractors had. I was then encouraged to apply for a full-time graduate ecologist position, which I applied for and was successful.
The main thing for me was that all the consultants I worked with were incredibly knowledgeable and supportive, and this filled me with confidence that working full-time for Arbtech as a graduate would be an encouraging environment.
Another thing I thought was encouraging about Arbtech was that the owner of the company was honest and open in the interview, explaining all of the positives and negatives of the job.
This was important to me as – especially with a graduate job – you might not know what to expect, whereas Rob explained everything and made me feel more comfortable about taking the step from student to full-time employment in a graduate role.
The ability to manage my own time and take on the amount of work that suits me is really incredible.
As I am still a graduate, I am able to take on as much work as I feel I am able to. As you get more experience and improve your skills, the amount of work you can take on can increase. I appreciate that the workload is not immediately thrown at you and that you can take it at your own pace, taking more on when you’re ready.
The probation period is one year, which may seem like a long time, but I think it’s a perfect amount of time to gain enough experience in surveys before being confident carrying them out yourself.
I also really like the balance of working from home and out conducting surveys. I love being outdoors, but I also like working from home and having that mixture of environments.
I love the fact that Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is unlimited. If there is a course or training day that is relevant to the job and will help you to do your job better, we can go on it, regardless of cost. Some of the consultants have crossed over into other sections of the company. For example, some arboricultural consultants have begun training in ecological surveys, and with unlimited CPD and the ability to shadow ecological consultants, this is achievable.
I love going for walks, especially in the Peak District and around the Roaches.
I really enjoy entomology, mycology and ornithology, so I’m always rummaging on the ground for cool fungi or insects and trying to identify birds from their calls.
I have a bird feeder at home, which I love watching and seeing what birds are in the area – I had a great spotted woodpecker on it the other day!
I like going to gigs and festivals. The feeling of being in a crowd of people that are all there for the same reason and having a great time together is the best feeling.
When I’m not out and about, I love being cosy at home either reading, crocheting, painting, spending time with my friends with a brew, or playing video games and scaring myself to death.
I think understanding what your strengths and weaknesses are in life is essential. You can then work to steadily improve your weaknesses.
You can’t change everything at once, and taking things that need changing step by step can be really beneficial, as something that is holding you back may be the one thing that is stopping you from getting a job or doing something that you really want to do.
Understanding your limits is important too; everyone has limits, and everyone can burn out, so finding where your limit is sooner rather than later will help.
As I only started in September, I’ve only been to one social with Arbtech, but what a social it was!
For Christmas 2022, we had the whole top floor of The Opera Grill in Chester to ourselves with a three-course meal, an open bar and a live band. There were over 100 of us there – as partners were invited too – and it was a blast.
As we live all over the country, it was nice to meet other consultants in person and have a laugh with them.
We all communicate on Slack on a day-to-day basis, but it was really lovely to meet people and interact face-to-face.
I went to Iceland in 2017, and it was the best place I’ve ever been to.
It was so different to any other place I’ve visited, but as we were only there for a few days, I didn’t see much of it. I would love to go back, hire a car and drive around the whole country, which is doable in a couple of weeks.
I love a sunny holiday with a beach, but my favourite holidays have always been colder, and I’m a big fan of holidays with a lot of exploring involved.
I’d also love to go to Cyprus, as there is an amazing turtle conservation project out there over the summer.
Currently, our holidays are 29 days, which increases to 40 days after passing the probation period, so we are fortunate to have time to go and adventure in our spare time.
Even though I am happy where I am now in my job and life, five years is a long time away and a plan is good. That said, looking back on plans from five years ago, I am on a completely different path from where I thought I would be!
I would love to be working with charities, such as Butterfly Conservation or the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, for example, as I am passionate about invertebrates, and I feel that they sometimes get forgotten and overlooked a little bit. Failing that, another trust within the UK to support wildlife.
I love engaging with people, and talking to people about wildlife and its importance is what I am interested in, so maybe I’d become involved in something related to public engagement for wildlife conservation.
In work, I hope to be trained up fully in the ecology side of the business and maybe start moving over to the arboriculture side.
I would like to do a master’s in forestry or maybe habitat management. I haven’t got a clear idea on what yet, but I know I want to keep learning and improving my knowledge.
Being good at my job is important to me, as I spend a large chunk of time working, so working to better my knowledge and improve my skills is key.
Outside of work, my primary goal is to look after myself and be content.
There are so many things that can upset the balance. Focusing on the things that allow me to look after myself and keep me in balance are essential for me. Examples include keeping active, having time to rest, being outside, and being present and in the moment.
I would love to do more travelling in the UK and explore more national parks.
I went to Snowdon last summer, and I would really enjoy exploring the landscape more and seeing more of our beautiful countryside.
Sally joined Arbtech in September 2022.
Meet the other members of our leading ecology and arboriculture team.