Olivia Keers

Chemistry MChem

The labs have the best equipment you could ever need. As soon as you get to Kent, you feel that you’re working in a professional environment. And that’s great.

Why did you choose to study at Kent?

I wanted to go to somewhere I’d be happy. Kent is a campus university and I really liked that – especially our campus which is beautiful and massive. It really does feel like home. Once you come here, you fall in love with it. It’s a beautiful place to study, and it’s great having the city so close by.

How’s your course going?  

I’m in my second year and it’s going well. The studies have picked up a lot since the first year, which is to be expected, but I feel like there’s a good balance in terms of what’s expected of us. I spend a lot of time in lectures and labs but I still have free time to do what I want. They’ve worked it out well. And when you start looking at scientific papers, you can see how much you’re learning. The papers are aimed at a high level but you’re starting to understand it and you’re on your way.

I really enjoy the labs on a Thursday. Having a full day every week gives you hands-on practice at whatever you’re learning in the course. It changes with the modules, so we get inorganic and organic labs and we really do experience the whole range of chemistry. My favourite is organic chemistry at the moment. It’s quite logical; it’s easy to understand.  Once you’ve got the basics, you can apply them to anything. 

How would you describe your lecturers?

All my lecturers are really nice. If you’re struggling with anything, or have any questions, they’re always available to help you. You can email them and they’re happy for you to ask questions during the lectures. They’re not going to be annoyed if you interrupt them! And, at the end, they’re happy to stay behind and talk things through with you.

What about your fellow students?

The thing I enjoy about Kent is that there are people here from all over the world. I definitely feel like I’ve experienced a wide range of cultures. In my year group, we all know each other.  When we have workshops, there’s always the opportunity to sit in a group and talk about it, and everyone is friendly and open. 

What are the facilities like on campus?  

The labs have the best equipment you could ever need. As soon as you get to Kent, you feel that you’re working in a professional environment. And that’s great. I can imagine this being my working life, once I finish my degree.

In terms of the rest of the campus, there are loads of places to sit and chat and lots of social spaces like K-Bar and Mungo’s. The library is massive which is great because there are places you can go for silent study, or places for group study if you want to hang out with your friends. 

If you live on campus in your first year, you’ve got everything you need. There are shops, bars and cafés. And the University is so close to Canterbury; it’s only a short bus ride away. Canterbury itself is lovely – there are loads of things to do there. My favourite bar at the moment is Houdini’s Magic Bar. If you have the opportunity, go! There’s a resident magician who puts on a show every couple of hours. It’s great thing to do with friends.

Are you in any student societies?

I’m on the Chemistry Society committee. We organise trips to places like CERN in Geneva to see the Large Hadron Collider. There are so many societies on campus and they are always arranging socials too – pub quizzes, things like that.  

Did you receive any useful careers advice?

The University is very helpful. We have a careers advisor in the School and she’s always there if you need help with your CV or interview tips. So, if you’re applying for a placement or a summer internship, you can have practice interviews with your academic advisor. They’re very happy to help you through the process.

Any career plans yet?

With chemistry, there are so many things that are open to you, it’s hard to decide. Being a STEM graduate, you’re in demand in every industry. You could do finance. Or become a patent lawyer ¬– that’s quite a popular option because chemistry graduates already understand the science. I was looking for a while at cosmetics – not something a lot of people think of. But you can do so many things with this degree.

At the moment, I think I want to go down the academic route and do my own research.  When I read scientific papers, I find it really exciting: the thought that this could be me one day. And the fact that Kent offers an integrated Master’s degree means that my research can follow on, from third year to fourth year. That’s not something a lot of universities can offer. 

Any advice for someone coming to Kent?

Get involved as much as you can. I joined the Chemistry Society and then became a student rep. It looks good on my CV but that’s not the main reason I do it. Being a rep is a really useful way to build your confidence: you start to feel more sure of yourself and your opinions.