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Department of Earth Sciences


Jenny Knight (née Oates)

BA 2013


Which subject did you want to study when you applied to Cambridge NatSci?
I had applied to study physics at other universities, and had my mind set on a career as a 'physicist'—though with hindsight, I wasn't very clear about what that would actually entail! At the time, I thought I was the sort of person who'd enjoy solitary work, such as researching and doing experiments—as I'd been quite shy at school.

What made you choose 1A Earth Sciences?
I chose 1A Earth Sciences mainly because of the field trips! I like an adventure and spending time amongst nature, so being able to do this while learning really appealed to me. I also liked the fact that Earth Sciences applied elements of the other subjects that I was taking: Physics, and Chemistry; making it feel complementary to my other 1A choices.

What made you stay?
By the time I was finishing part 1A, I'd grown quite a bit since I made the decision that I liked the solitary, bookish image of being a physicist. I found myself drawn more to the practical applications of physics, as opposed to the theoretical ideas themselves.

Earth Sciences also appealed to my increasingly outgoing personality. Turns out, I really liked working with people, meeting new friends and having adventures together. Field trips were not only a chance to apply the ideas and techniques we'd learned in lectures and practicals, but also to bond with our fellow classmates—which I loved.

Many of the most memorable moments from my three years at Cambridge are from Earth Sciences field trips.

How has doing Earth Sciences shaped your career?
I graduated after part II Earth Sciences, having decided not to continue to part III, as I was sure that I didn't want to continue into academia. Though I'd enjoyed studying Earth Sciences immensely, I was ready to start a career.

I didn't know exactly what career I wanted, so I joined a graduate scheme, and ended up working in marketing for a London brewery. Whilst the parallels between marketing and Earth Sciences may seem few and tenuous—there are many transferrable skills. For example, marketing requires a lot of data analysis to determine the effectiveness of campaigns—skills that I learned throughout my degree, and honed while writing my dissertation.

Problem solving was also important while I was on the graduate scheme, where I was exposed to different business problems and expected to quickly analyse and work with others to solve them. Earth Sciences field trips had built up my teamwork skills, and taught me to work well with different people and personalities—a skill that's proved very useful in the workplace!