Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences and Statistics
Statistical Analyst, Statistics New Zealand, Christchurch
When looking at her options for tertiary study, Catherine was unsure exactly which direction she wanted her career to take, and she explains that a Bachelor of Science suited her perfectly. 'I was keen to continue studying after high school, but was not yet ready to commit to a more professional-style degree. I had always been interested in biological sciences, and I had a strong aptitude for mathematics and statistics at school. I decided that a BSc would be a good way to increase my skills and knowledge, and would leave my options wide open at completion.'
Catherine found that her two major subjects worked well in combination. 'I pursued more of an ecological focus with my biology, and was especially interested in marine systems. I also studied a fair bit of applied statistics.'
In the January after completing her degree, Catherine began her career as a Statistical Analyst at Statistics New Zealand. She has enjoyed the work and the variety of opportunities at the organisation.
'I started work in Statistical Methods, supporting the running and release of sub-annual business surveys and statistics, and providing analytical support. I’m now on a secondment where I’m building and testing some software which will improve the way we process and analyse our sub-annual statistics.’
She says she is ‘definitely loving the team environment!'
Catherine feels her degree prepared her well for her work, and says she uses her statistics skills most days in her job.
'Definitely the stats side of my degree helps me a lot!' she says. 'Study in general has made sure that I am able to act independently to answer my own questions and challenges, and my research and reading skills are right up there for that.’ She adds: ‘I feel the real use of my degree is the critical thinking ability that I learned.’
Catherine looks forward to contributing to Statistics New Zealand as she develops her skills further.
‘I have also had project management opportunities at Statistics New Zealand, and was the recipient of the Emerging Project Manager of the Year award at the 2012 Project Management Institute New Zealand (PMINZ) conference.’
Catherine also works as an ambulance volunteer for St John at the weekends, and at sports games and other events around Christchurch. She enjoys the additional challenge of training in the medical field.
‘I am finding my scientific background is helping me complete my ambulance training, in particular the ability to keep up with the latest scientific research in pre-hospital care.
‘I hope to stick around in Christchurch as there are lots of opportunities here at the moment, but travel is also looking pretty good! This is a pretty exciting time in my life!'
Following her own experience, Catherine's advice to prospective students is to make their own decisions when choosing their degree.
'I would recommend that people do what makes them happy, what they love, or what they are most interested in. As a young adult it is easy to be swayed by parents, friends and family, who tell you that they know best. However, you know yourself best. At the end of the day it is your life, your degree and your student loan, so don't just get into a degree because you will get an amazingly paid job at the end – if you hate the study you will probably hate the job! Plan your degree to suit your interests, and take other people's opinions as advice and not as instruction.'