Graduate Q&A: Piers Bolton (BSc Zoology)

As an 18-year-old, Piers Bolton knew he wanted a job that would involve working outdoors.

Fast forward a few years and he has achieved that goal.

Piers graduated in 2018 with a first-class degree in Zoology and is now a Plant Health and Seeds Inspector with the Department for Food and Rural Affairs.

piers bolton, hull zoology graduate
Piers Bolton

When you were 18, did you know what you wanted to do after University?

I wanted to go into veterinary science but didn’t get high enough grades during sixth form. Other than that, no not specifically. I had a more general idea of working within natural sciences, and an enjoyment for working outdoors. 

What made you choose the career path you are on?

Equal parts enjoyment, luck and coincidence. 

What do you like most about your job?

Working outside and improving UK biosecurity. 


Q. What’s a typical working day for you?

My work is very seasonal, so a typical day doesn’t really exist, which is part of the enjoyment. My time is usually split between management, technical advice, plant and field inspections, admin jobs, meetings and client liaison.

What can students do during their time at University to increase the chances of getting their dream job?

Work or volunteer as much as possible with groups in the areas where they need to gain practical knowledge and experience. This is really important for interviews. 

Business people shaking hands

Q. Have you got any tips from your experience on how to smash the application and interview process?

Talk about what you have done, not we. Draw from a range of experiences. The Civil Service uses a STAR format for interviews (Situation, Task, Action, Result). This helps to structure answers and keeps responses succinct. 

Why did you want to study biological sciences at university and why Hull?

I enjoy biology. And didn’t do as well as I hoped in my A-levels. Hull accepted me through Clearing.

If you had your time at University again, would you do anything differently?

Yes, I would spend more time developing experience of working and volunteering with organisations. I graduated with a first-class degree and a reasonable amount of work experience through the course modules, but on reflection I think a 2:1 would have been sufficient if it meant I had additional work experience.

Q. How has your degree helped you in your career?

piers bolton, hull zoology graduate

The work I do requires a biological knowledge, particularly around identification of plants, insects, bacteria and viruses. My degree also providedthe experience that allowed me to get my first career job. 

Do what you love, or do what pays the most? What do you think?

It is important to do something you enjoy. You will spend roughly 40 hours of your week doing it for several decades. There is a balance though between enjoyment and salary and it is important to find something that you find interesting but also that pays you well for your role so you can pursue your interests outside of work and live a comfortable life. However, the pay is not the only factor –finding a job that has good benefits, generous holiday allowances, and that will develop you are all important factors.

Interested in studying Zoology?