When I tell someone my profession, I often receive responses along the lines of “So you fix cars?' or “You don't look strong enough to handle spanners”. I find it surprising that there is still a lack of knowledge surrounding engineering as it is a great career to be in.
Responding to these types of questions, I always try and distinguish between professional engineering and all the other industries. It is important for young people to be aware of the opportunities within engineering and realise it can lead to so many different career options.
My engineering journey started when I was very young, always choosing to play with Lego and Meccano instead of Barbies. Looking back at school, engineering was never a subject that was massively promoted as a career option, with the focus being on the usual, traditional subjects. For me, my favourite subjects at school were Maths, Design Technology, Science and Art. As I moved towards my A-Levels, I decided to pursue a career based on Art and Design subjects as this was what I enjoyed the most. After my A-Levels, I went on to study Art and Design at York St. Johns University and loved the independence and lifestyle it gave me. However, the lack of academic study left me dissatisfied and within one term I decided it wasn't for me and left. It took me a further year of careers advice and thorough investigation to realise Engineering was the subject I should have initially gone for.
After a little time out travelling, I moved back to the North East and worked at Marks and Spencer to fund a degree in Engineering. I studied part time at the Open University and managed to finish my degree in four years. I loved it and was so glad I went with my heart to follow the career I knew I would love.
My degree was General Engineering, with the option to select modules more specialised to your preferred branch of engineering. I chose to study modules more mechanical and structural based, after having enjoyed these in the taster sessions. I particularly enjoyed the stress calculations involved in designing a truss or beam and fracture mechanics. For the majority of my time there, I was the only female in my study groups, however, I never found this to be a problem and it never put me off. In fact, I would say I was encouraged by my tutors and peers and it was nice to bring a different dimension to thegroups.
Once I had graduated, I took more time out and spent a year travelling around Europe. Afterwards I began to consider my career and started looking for jobs. I wanted to stay in the North of England and was delighted to find MSP so close to the home I loved.
I have now worked as part of the MSP team for just over 5 years and I’m delighted that I found the perfect career for me. I originally joined MSP as a Software Engineer before moving to the Applications team. I feel so lucky to have experienced both aspects of the business as it gives me a massive advantage when talking to customers or suggesting product improvements to the team. I enjoy the diversity of the job and that no two days are the same. I love to travel and the job enables me to visit customers as far a field as Europe, the US, Canada and even Australia. I would strongly encourage women with a love of problem solving to explore a career within engineering – there are so many different areas to get involved with and exciting opportunities in store.
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