Fern Walmsley on her experience of UCLan

UCLan Chemistry, MChem graduate, Fern Walmsley, has firmly established her career in science to become an Asphalt Technologist at Total UK.

Fern originally wanted to work in medicine, but unfortunately didn’t achieve the grades to pursue this subject. Not dismayed by the results, she looked into alternative career paths and chose to study a science-related degree. Fern was drawn towards the MChem Chemistry course at UCLan because it offered a good even mix of coursework and exams, along with a smaller course cohort compared to other universities.

After graduating in 2017, Fern continued to work part-time whilst searching for her first full-time job. She applied for a role at Total UK working with polymers, which was the same topic that her final year project was based on. Fern was successful in this appointment and commenced her employment in October 2017.

For the past two years, Fern has been enjoying her work for Total UK as an Asphalt Technologist. Her main duties consist of doing research and development on asphalt and bitumen and includes working with customers who are having technical issues.

Fern is also part of a small team that run a project which aims to improve employee wellbeing and mental health across all Total UK sites.

Fern Walmsley
Fern Walmsley

Reflecting on her UCLan experience, Fern felt an important part of her time at University was being a member of the UCLan Women’s Rugby Team and being their Chairperson in her final year. She recounts: “Being a part of a sports team really enhanced my university experience. I was out playing as part of a team and meeting new people. I made a lot of lifelong friends.”

Speaking more about the impact of her degree on her career, Fern added: “The significant amount of time doing laboratory practicals on the course has made it easier for me to transition to a more industrial setting. In the final two years of my studies the projects we ran have massively helped me with my independent working and time management which I have been complimented on at work.”

When asked if she had any advice to give to students and graduates wanting to follow a similar path, Fern stated: “Don’t compare or worry about how well other people are doing or if you’re not receiving the same grades as other people. I didn’t always get the best grade, but as long as you’re trying your best that’s all that matters and any potential employer will see that.”