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Rebecca succeeding in STEM with Jacobs

Meet Rebecca. She is proving how young women can excel in engineering this National Careers Week.   Jacobs engineering

Engineering as a career interested me because it combines problem solving, maths, science and creativity. Hearing about the opportunities my uncle had through civil engineering – moving from Belfast to New Zealand and working on reconstruction after the earthquakes in Christchurch – also inspired me to pursue a career in engineering. 

Prior to choosing my A level subjects, I knew that engineering was the career path I wanted to go down. I chose Maths, Physics and Geography allowing me to attend university to study engineering. At the beginning of year 12 as I had shown an interest in engineering, my teacher recommended I apply for the Industrial Cadets workshop and “The Big Project” – both programmes run by Jacobs. I attended the Industrial Cadets’ workshop in February 2018 and my initial interest in civil engineering grew. Following the workshop, I did some work experience within the Highways and Structures departments at Jacobs’ Stockton Office.

I was initially unaware that a degree apprenticeship was available. I had always intended on going down the obvious full-time university route and had never had a second thought I would ever do something different. When I was offered the Degree Apprenticeship, I was initially unsure of what to do. As I have always thought I knew the exact plan I would take, having a second option was a decision I never thought I would have to make. However, I knew the apprenticeship would give me opportunities I would never have unless I was working and studying at the same time, the involvement and support I had from Jacobs made the decision easier.

Mike is an Enterprise Adviser at Jacobs and engages with Carmel College to help students prepare for the world of work. I met Mike for the first time during the Big Project and he has been a huge part of my experience within Jacobs so far. He has offered support and guidance throughout our transition from college to employment with our best interests always as the priority.

The opportunities Mike has given us have been hugely rewarding, and without being involved with Jacobs I would have been unaware of the huge benefits of a Degree Apprenticeship. Visiting Jacobs multiple times prior to joining really helped me decide that the apprenticeship was the best way to gain experience and a degree at the same time, while doing something I enjoyed.

I would recommend the apprenticeship route. Gaining experience while studying is really valuable, especially in engineering as you can relate studies to real life projects. Getting paid while you learn is a huge benefit. I’ve had so many opportunities I would never have had if I had chosen the full-time university route. Whatever future career you wish to pursue, it’s worth looking at all the options available and what the long-term benefits are.

Being a woman in STEM can be seen a “big deal” given the traditional lower numbers of women within STEM careers. However, as I am doing something I enjoy I wouldn’t class it as a big deal. I think the growing number of women doing something they enjoy without thinking about the potential barriers they may face is positive.

Any encouragement to live up to aspirations, especially the younger generations where stigma can be present at such a young age, is so important. I think everyone should be encouraged to explore a career in STEM as there is such a vast range of exciting opportunities that we should be able to experience.

In my short time working with Jacobs, I have already been able to get involved in STEM activity and have recently been able to offer my support to Carmel College students on The Big Project. Acting as a Jacobs mentor to a student team in this year’s Big Project programme, helping them to consider solutions as to what the town centre of the future may look like.  It has been great to go back to Carmel College and talk to the teachers, support the students and share my experiences from the workplace. It is an important role to play for me to promote the opportunities for students from education into employment.

Join the Enterprise Adviser Network. 

Watch her story here.