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Katie succeeding in STEM with Jacobs

Meet Katie. She is proving how young women can excel in engineering.

I think that everyone should have someone in their life who makes a difference to their education or career by offering advice and support. For me, this was my technology teacher, Leah Morley. She has been one of the biggest influences in my journey and has been a role model to me since the age of 12. She always told me to do what I enjoy and believed in me, while pushing me towards my goals. This significant influence inspired me to take part in work experience with a computer-aided design (CAD) design team who specialised in designing stairlifts. I loved my time there. Having that experience in the workplace and working on different projects opened my eyes to the world of design, which pushed me towards choosing a career path in engineering.

Another significant turning point in my education journey was at the age of 14, when I was introduced to Sara Crawshaw, Assistant Vice Principal at Carmel College. She opened so many doors and gave me the opportunity to take part in the ‘Industrial Cadets Workshop’ with Jacobs after hearing about my growing interest in engineering. This experience taught me about the variety of engineering disciplines. It then led me to being introduced to Mike Bowen, who has been a huge influence in my career from an early stage.

Mike is an Enterprise Adviser at Jacobs and connects with Carmel College to support young people in preparing for work. Sara and Mike have both helped me navigate my way through my career path and have supported me in making important decisions. On completing the Industrial Cadets I got in touch with Mike at Jacobs. He was really helpful and supported me with organising a week’s work experience in Jacobs’ Stockton office. Getting this opportunity enabled me to have a first-hand experience of the different parts of the company and how they worked. The experience solidified my decision of wanting to work for Jacobs. Without that work experience, and the support from Mike, I don’t think I would be where I am today.

After this experience, I took part in the Big Project, run by Jacobs, two years in a row, which allowed me to keep in contact with Mike and present in front of Jacobs’ senior leadership members. It meant I could visit the office again and talk to the Jacobs employees that were mentoring my group for the Big Project.

After completing my GCSEs I applied for an apprenticeship with Jacobs which I was accepted on. However, after much deliberation between Mike, Sara and I, we all decided it was best that I would wait two years, continue my studies in 6th Form and complete my A-Levels. I could then look to join Jacobs at a point where I could immediately start a level 6 apprenticeship at degree level on a part time study basis, whilst also gaining experience working in the Highways team at Jacobs.

In August 2019, I started my Degree Apprenticeship in Civil Engineering with Jacobs, working four days a week whilst spending one day studying at Teesside University. It means so much to me to be part of this company, as I have been working towards this goal of mine for the last four years of my life. I am enjoying every second of it. To get the opportunity to spend time in the work environment has been really enjoyable and I have had the opportunity to work on some really interesting schemes. Getting this hands-on experience at work has been very useful with my studies. I’m able to apply the experience I’m getting in the workplace into my studies, which I believe sets me aside from the other students on my course.

Working in the Jacobs office has also led to some other opportunities outside of the day-to-day project experience. I have been involved with huge amounts of charity work through the business and had the opportunity to do training to become a Mental Health Champion.

Having seen the opportunities that the Big Project has brought me, I was extremely keen to be involved with STEM activity in the office and this year I have attended several STEM careers fairs. I am also a mentor for one of the Carmel College Big Project teams which has given me the opportunity to go back into my old college and demonstrate that there are real opportunities for students to move from education into employment. I have really enjoyed talking to the students and my teachers about the opportunities that this apprenticeship has afforded me.

This opportunity is especially important to me as I hope that I can help to inspire children, particularly young women like me, that there is a great career in engineering. And, to  demonstrate to those that are now in the position I was four years’ ago that you can make anything happen – just as Mike, Sara and Leah did and continue to do for me.

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Watch her story here.