Matt Ashmore is a graduate transport planner with global engineering firm Atkins. Matt secured the role after graduating from the University of Salford in 2014 with a degree in Human Geography, which he says is an essential qualification in his line of work.
"I definitely wouldn’t be able to do this job without the skills and knowledge I learnt in my degree", he says. "Although, I had no idea this is what I wanted to do when I applied to university. I chose Salford because it was local to me and I’d always planned on staying at home while I studied, and I liked the look of the Geography course, but I had no other agenda back then."
The course content and the social life surrounding the course suited Matt to a tee, and he thrived in his studies. "The first couple of years was standard geography and then the third year was more specialised, and that's when I became interested in planning, change and governance", he explains. "The lecturers were really approachable and helpful, and the socials within the Geography department were great – all the students and lecturers got together at Easter and Christmas and there was a really inclusive feel to it. The field trips were another major bonus: I went to Zermatt in the Alps, Sweden, and Copenhagen in Denmark."
A chance meeting in a pub during the third and final year of his course led Matt to his career in transport planning. "I’d always been relatively interested in transport and that side of things, and I got chatting to someone who worked at a rival company to the one I'm now with", he says. "I went home and researched the type of work he did and came across the Atkins website, and noticed they were hiring. It was pure chance, and luck, that I found it."
With a career plan forming, Matt set about navigating the long application process. "There were a lot of stages to go through, and it was quite rigorous", he says. "First there was an online application, which was followed by psychometric tests, a telephone interview and an assessment day which included four separate interviews. But it was worth it, as I was successful and, after a six-month process, I was offered a job."
In his role as graduate transport planner, Matt is part of the modelling team and responsible for creating transport models to predict traffic flow and journey times. "There's a lot of modelling and report writing which was something I wasn't great at before uni, but it’s a big part of my job."
"The graduate programme I'm on is three years, and then I'll be a chartered transport planner. I'm still office-based at the moment, but in a year or so I'll be going on site visits and there's the chance of a three or four month placement in the Bangalore office.
"My aim is to progress through the ranks; I've found something I really want to stick with. I had no idea what I wanted to do when I did my degree, but I thought it was really important to study something I enjoyed. That's led to a career that I enjoy just as much, if not more, so my advice to anyone who’s unsure about what to go for is do whatever makes you happy."