Geography Alumni: Jessica Houghton

Geography, Travel, Humanities & Modern Languages

Jessica studied at the college between 2011 and 2013, and went onto Queen Mary University to study Human Geography. Read her story below!

'Hi! I am Jessica, a recent Geography graduate from Queen Mary University of London. I grew up in Southampton and attended Itchen College. Geography is an incredibly diverse subject ranging from physical and environmental sciences to sociological studies.

'This is why I chose a Geography degree, as I knew I would have the flexibility to learn a whole range of interesting topics and the opportunity to specialise in areas that are highly employable. In no other degree would you learn a variety of transferable skills such as research skills, written and communication skills, critical and analytical thinking, problem-solving and organisational skills that all prepare you for world-wide employment.

'Geography opened my eyes to the real-world problems that our society is faced with in the past, present and future. It is with this understanding of the world and society that gave me a unique perspective, which employers seek.

'I studied BA (Hons) Human Geography, which is a branch of Geography in the Social Sciences. It is an interdisciplinary degree that focuses on social and cultural relations across space and place. It was the best three years of my life as I studied intriguing concepts and mastered skills that I never thought possible.

'I found myself studying epidemiology (the study and analysis of diseases), Victorian London, global economics and the European Union, the philosophy of ‘nature’ and concepts of innovative uses of technology such as biomimetics (microscopic bug robots). Interesting, huh? I also found myself writing a dissertation about how and why parents track their children through GPS apps on their mobile phones to see where and what they are up to.

'As soon as I started my degree I was finding volunteer work, projects and internships to give myself an extra edge at refining my employability skills. In the first year, I volunteered at the Whitechapel Homeless Shelter, getting up a 4am to run the breakfast shifts. I also did more fun volunteering projects such as a ‘trolley dash’ at the Kensington Olympia Toy Fair where I collected donated toys for the Barnardo’s Charity. In the summer of my first year I went and worked at Camp America for three months where I was a horse-riding instructor and a camp counsellor in South Carolina, USA.

'Extra-curricular activities and especially fun work experiences like camp show I have had experiences in different work environments, stressful situations and know how to be a team player and leader. Additionally, in the beginning of my second year, I became involved with a research project in the NHS. I was a research project leader where I analysed how effective a new scheme was in reducing the amount of patients to the GP surgery.

'In the summer of my second year, I held an internship at Microsoft Research in Cambridge, where I helped build a predictive environmental model using Geographic Information Systems (GIS). This was so much fun and something that looks really great on my CV. Without the support and the skills I learnt from University, I would not have had these wonderful opportunities that I owe my future career to.

'Presently, I hope to go onto to complete a Masters of Science (MSc) at UCL next year studying Organised Crime and Counter Terrorism, as it has been my dream to work within the security industry. I bet you didn’t expect a Geographer to say that!'

Congratulations to Jessica on her success and we wish her the best of luck for her Masters degree.