VHE University Placement Year Students – Where are they now?
23 April 2019
VHE are continuing to look back at some of the 26 placement students we have employed since 2005. Mark de Jong was a Geo-Environmental placement student between 2006 and 2007.
Since leaving VHE Mark achieved a First Class BSc in Environmental Science at the University of Leeds. Upon graduating Mark gained employment with the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS) as a research technician in Bermuda. In 2010 Mark continued his studies and gained an MSc in Environmental Monitoring at Kings College London, gaining the award for the best MSc thesis in the process. Whilst undertaking research for a PhD Mark worked as an Air-Quality Modelling Consultant.
Mark is now a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Remote Sensing and Statistical Modelling of wildfire studying the ‘Influence of weather and climate on fire danger, incidence and characteristics at landscape to global scale’ and has written numerous publications relating to his work and studies before becoming a Post-doctoral Research Associate in the Department of Geography at Kings College London.
Mark commented; “Looking back, choosing to undertake a year in industry at VHE was a great decision for my career. The role involved a lot of real responsibility and independent decision making, and the experience I had felt a lot richer than that of my peers who opted to do placements elsewhere. Ultimately, a year of graduate level, real world work experience makes you stand out to employers when you finish your degree. As a result, I secured my first job before I had submitted my final year dissertation, which really took the pressure off in the last few months of my degree. Working in Bermuda was a fantastic experience and broadened my horizons, and this role was something I would not have been offered without prior practical work experience. Having relevant industrial experience also helped me to secure a scholarship and stipend to study on a masters programme in London, something that would have been impractical for me to undertake without funding. This then set me on a rewarding and varied career path involving both research and applied science. I have contributed to the air quality assessment for the London 2012 Olympics, set fire to parts of the South African savannah, and helped establish a satellite validation field site in a Kenyan ranch/game reserve. I suspect life would have turned out very differently without the experience I gained during my placement at VHE.”