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Steve Kasako

Alumni Profile: Steve Kasako - BSc Environmental HealthSteve KasakoEnvironmental Health Technical Officer, London Borough of Harrow

BSc Environmental Health, 2011

What made you choose Middlesex University?

I went through UCAS clearing. I received quite a few offers through clearing but I chose Middlesex as I wanted to stay in London and I also knew quite a few people going there.

What attracted you to your course and made you apply?

Initially I wanted to study Biomedical Sciences. In the first year, the Biological Sciences, Biomedical Sciences and Environmental Health courses shared some classes. All three courses ran presentations at one point and the Environmental Health presentation appealed to me most. The tutor sold it really well so I switched to Environmental Health in my first year. I think a lot of students don't fully know what they want to do in their first year so having the opportunity to learn more about specific areas through presentations is a really good way of giving students an insight into the different courses available. For me, switching to the Environmental Health programme was a fantastic decision.

What aspects of your course did you enjoy most?

I enjoyed the interactive sessions in which we discussed real public health issues that affected real people. A lot of the students on my course already had experience in Environmental Health from working in different councils around the country. I found my discussions and interactions with these students really interesting and enjoyable as I was able to learn from them as well as from my lecturers. Another aspect I really enjoyed was the final year project. It was challenging but the sense of achievement on completion of the project greatly superseded the challenges.

What is your fondest memory of life at Middlesex?

My university experience was fun and interesting – I have good memories! From the friends made, to the Sports and Library facilities.

What one piece of advice would you give to a prospective student interested in studying at Middlesex?

Take your course seriously – especially in the second year. Of course you want to have some fun but the work gets very serious from year two onwards. The work you put in then will determine the degree classification you end up with.

How did your course and time at Middlesex help you to get where you are professionally today?

My profession is closed without the appropriate accreditation so I had to have the Environmental Health degree in order to become a member of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health and work towards full qualification as an Environmental Health Officer. Therefore it was a vital foundation for a career in this area.

Why did you choose the career you studied for?

I knew I wanted to end up in a health-related profession but from the moment I listened to the Environmental Health presentation in my first year, I wanted to learn more about this area. When I researched it further, I found it really interesting. I am very glad I turned up to the presentation as it guided me towards a good career that has provided me with an opportunity to work towards improving the health of the general public.

What are the pros and cons of working within your professional field?

The pros are it is a very rewarding career and you can earn a good salary. There are still opportunities in the field despite the recession – these haven't dried up as there are still opportunities for contracting work.

The main con is it isn't a career where you rise quickly through the ranks as there are a lot of people who age on the job which means the opportunities to become, say, a service manager, relatively early in your career are limited.

How did you get your foot on the career ladder post university?

Part of the degree requires experiential learning, so you have to get work experience while studying. I know the uni helps students find work placements but I decided to approach my Local Authority independently and ask them for work experience within their Environmental Health department. I was lucky enough to be taken on by them for a year while studying, meaning I had good experience under my belt by the time I graduated.

I then stayed on for a further six months unpaid work experience post graduation before securing a job as a London 2012 Food Safety Supervisor. It was really good to get some private sector experience as I worked with one of the Olympics private contractors. I got to see the Queen, various stars like Usain Bolt and meet the Ugandan team, including the marathon gold medallist Stephen Kiprotich! I am from Uganda so this was a great experience for me. Since then, I have been contracting for Local Authorities.

What has been your defining career break or highlight to date?

My first paid Environmental Health role. Becoming self-sufficient and receiving your first payslip is a great feeling!

What does the future hold for you?

I'm looking to study further – I'm doing a masters in Public Health. Sadly, I have to do this at another university as I need to do a masters which enables me to work at the same time. If it hadn't been for that, I would have loved to have returned to Middlesex.

I'd like to be a career student! I get bored if I am not studying as I like the academic pressure, the deadlines and feeling of achievement.

What are the top career tips you would give to current students and recent graduates?

The sky is the limit, remember that hard work pays and always aim to be the best.

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