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Route into engineering
After school I had a break from full-time education to be a young carer and to figure out my life's path. Eventually I came to the conclusion that I loved academic study and wanted to work in STEM. I signed up for the three sciences and maths at a further education college, and the rest is history.
Signalling Project Engineer at Network Rail
As a project engineer, I look after assurance for my discipline (signalling) which means I check designs, technical documents and processes and make sure everyone who’s operating within that space is doing so, safely.
My job is very varied which I love. Some days I'm in meetings to discuss project progress, other days I'm reviewing designs and speaking with contractors. Pre-COVID, I would also go out on site to check the progress of my projects in person. Liaising with different people and departments is a big part of my role!
Try your best but don't put so much pressure on yourself! It will all work out in the end and plan A isn't the only option.
Best: The people! I worked in the food and service industries throughout university fulfilling roles such as waitress and barista, and the main thing I loved was working with customers and speaking to different kinds of people. In my current role, I get to fulfil that need by attending meetings and liaising with my colleagues to get things done. I'm a people's person so couldn't do a role with no social contact!
Worst: Occasionally I'll have a day that's report writing heavy, which can leave me with a drained brain at the end of it. I don't mind too much though as it's a great opportunity to stick on the radio and boogie while I type (another working from home perk)!
Network Rail recently published its 'Environmental Sustainability Strategy' which outlines sustainability goals for the next 30 years, such as increasing ecological capability within the company (and supply chain) by 2024. One way in which I've engaged with this aspect (which is related to Sustainable Development Goal #15) is by attending environmental awareness training and using what I've learnt to think about my project evaluations in a different way. This is especially good as it ensures I always put the environment and the impact I'm having on future generations at the forefront of my mind, whenever I make an engineering decision.
I almost didn't go to university! I left school at 16 to care for a disabled relative and try to figure out what I wanted in life. Financially this was very difficult as going back into full time education meant that I wasn't able to work to support myself at the same time and so had to survive on savings. It was worth it though as it has led me to a career I love.