Having a passion for a chosen career is always a strong advantage, but nonetheless there are often challenges that lie on the pathway between education and the dream job.
With aspirations of entering the competitive aquatic industry, Liam Byrne knew that he needed further education just to get his foot in the door. A plan was in place, but it was support from The Sir Thomas White Loan Charity that would ultimately enable Liam to step in and continue on his journey…
Growing up in Leicester, Liam went to Fullhurst Community College and then Wyggeston and Queen Elizabeth I College to study A Levels, before moving to the University of Hull to take a marine and freshwater biology undergraduate course.
“After university I had a year working in a restaurant, saving up some money, and then it came to looking at Masters degrees,” Liam explained.
“At the time, there wasn’t a lot of jobs around and often now you need a Masters to get your foot in door.
“When applying for a Masters there wasn’t any government funding, so I found out about The Sir Thomas White Loan Charity from my cousin, as she had been successful in gaining a loan previously.
“I then applied for a loan to do an Aquatic Resource Management degree at King’s College London. Without the Charity’s support, I wouldn’t have been able to fund a Masters. It was essential.”
Taught jointly with the University Marine Biological Station at Millport and with input from the UK water industry, environmental regulators and aquatic scientists, the Aquatic Resource Management course focusses on a mix of freshwater, estuarine and marine science and management, while also including a 12-week internship.
“This sort of thing has always interested me,” Liam added when asked about his passion for a career in aquatics.
“When I was young, I loved aquatic life; fish, sharks, as every young kid does!
“I always wanted to do something in that field and the Masters had a really good employment record. It was a way into a full-time job.”
During the Masters, Liam completed a work placement at Jacobs – providers of technical construction services – and this led to him receiving his first job offer.
“I worked at Jacobs in Southampton for four years, which was really beneficial,” Liam continued.
“Then I moved on, and I’ve been at my current place, AECOM, ever since.
“I’m based in Beeston near Nottingham. I get to do some really exciting things in the role. We’ll sometimes get out on boats and do survey work, we’ll catch fish, do monitoring work – and also go out on hovercrafts a couple of times a year.
“There are obviously office admin and data tasks involved too, but it’s all really exciting. I enjoy the summer months, when we’re able to go out and work on projects across the UK, visiting rivers and lakes to monitor for aquatic research.
“The loan helped me massively, and the Masters has proven to be really useful.”
With The Sir Thomas White Loan Charity playing a vital role in Liam’s further education through the offer of an Education Loan – available to the value of £10,000 and interest-free for nine years in order to assist with the cost of post-graduate courses anywhere in the world – Liam was full of praise when asked to describe the support on offer from the Charity.
“I’d 100 per cent recommend the Education Loan to others,” Liam stated.
“When applying, everything was straight forward. I attended an interview at Gateway College in Leicester where I was asked about my need for the loan. When I spoke about the Masters I was interested in and its employment rate, they could see that it would be beneficial.
“The Charity have always been very helpful and quick to respond,” Liam added.
“So many people who live in Leicester and Leicestershire have benefited from the Charity – in terms of education, and also with the Business Loans they offer. The loans are interest-free, which means it gives people a great opportunity launch their own business, or continue their education.
“At the minute, it’s difficult out there. Opportunities can be hard to come by, so having support like this is really valuable. It’s a great thing and I’d have really struggled without it. The route into my first job would have been much tougher, most certainly.
“I’ll always hold the Charity fondly in my mind for the part they’ve played in my journey.”
To read more about our interest-free Education Loans and to find out if you are eligible to apply, please CLICK HERE