Katherine Morgan studying Civil Engineering at the University of Southampton
Built by first year civil engineering students at the University of Southampton. I am seventh from the right.
What is your current job?
I'm completing a Masters degree and am looking forward to starting work in September. I will be on a graduate development programme working in civil infrastructure with a leading design, engineering and project management consultancy. Civil infrastructure is about networks that support all our activities - power, water, waste, transportation, communications and how they work together to keep society functioning. I will be able to gain chartered status through my work.
What do you love about your job?
I really enjoy studying and learning new skills, so staying on to do a Masters degree really suits me. I have been able to find out more about different aspects of civil engineering and to start to specialise in infrastructure which is where my interests lie.
Last summer I did an internship working in the bridges and structures’ office of a county council. This was a really great experience. I got to work on designs in the office and also go on visits to construction sites. The best part of the experience was being given a project to design a retaining wall structure which will be constructed to my actual design. During my placement I was always happy to come into the office in the morning.
Why did you choose a job in engineering?
I enjoyed maths and science when I did my A Levels at Ralph Allen School. Studying engineering is a great way to put those subject skills to a practical use and also engineering calls for creativity and seeking out new ways of solving problems.
What skills and qualities do you need?
It is really important to have an interest in the world around you; to be enthusiastic and keen to learn. It is also very important to have good communication skills and be able to get on with your colleagues, as you will often find yourself working in a team or needing to utilise someone else’s expertise on a project. You also need to be self-motivated and good at time management.
What advice do you have for young women interested in engineering?
I would advise anyone interested in engineering to go along to university open days and look around engineering departments. Chatting to students about their experiences studying the subject can give you a good insight into whether this is the subject for you.
No degree course is easy but it is important to realise that an engineering degree is a tough course, so you have to be really committed to doing it in order to motivate yourself to work hard.
When you were at school, what would have helped you prepare for a career in engineering and become more employable?
Work experience is key; if you think you may be interested in a career in engineering try and get a week’s work experience with a local firm over the summer, not only will this look great on your CV in the future it’s a really good opportunity to better understand if this is the career for you.
Remember to get involved in other things besides engineering. It may be something you really enjoy but employers are looking for rounded individuals with a variety of interests. I enjoy walking and swimming when I get the time.
Finally, try to get experience in communicating with people. It can be really hard, especially if you’re quite shy, but first impressions count. Whatever industry you end up working in, first impressions count and employers are much more likely to hire someone who appears confident and friendly.
I’m just starting out in my career but my experiences so far have convinced me that I made the right choice in studying engineering. It is hard work but very rewarding and one of the most important things in life, in my opinion, is being able to do a job you enjoy.