Name: Emily Clark
Role: Apprentice Civil Engineer
Studying: HNC Civil Engineering, leading to a masters degree in Civil Engineering and ultimately chartered status
Emily Clark was first introduced to the Logistics Academy’s Career Ready Programme while she was at college, which led to various internships and opportunities.
During this time, Emily was mentored by our former director, Jim French, who saw her passion and potential and offered her a four-week internship with PD Ports. Four weeks turned into an apprenticeship, and now Emily is splitting her time between working for our firm and completing a higher level apprenticeship in civil engineering.
Here, Emily tells us about her experience, the support she is offered, and the advice she would give to other young women finding their feet in the industry…
What did you want to be when you grew up, how has that changed thanks to your apprenticeship and if so, how?
When I was a kid, I wanted to be a dentist, a vet and all sorts of things, but as I got older, I wanted to be an architect – which is at least a bit closer to where I am now!
Even after I started my internship, I changed my mind! I initially thought I wanted to go into mechanical engineering, but when I saw the civil engineering side of the business, that interested me so much more – but I’d never have known that if not for my internship, I’d have been in completely the wrong career!
I think the opportunity for young people to have that exposure to real workplaces is invaluable to help guide their futures.
What is involved in your apprenticeship?
I’m currently working four days a week for PD Ports in the maintenance engineering department and get involved in all aspects of civil engineering. One day I can be under a quay doing a service, the next I can be on top of a warehouse inspecting the roof, or I can be dealing with contractors who are project managing different jobs in ports up and down the country.
For the fifth day of each week, I spend the day at Teesside University studying for my degree.
What exactly is a higher-level apprenticeship, and how does it differ from the more commonly known apprenticeship?
There’s a slight difference between a higher apprenticeship and a normal apprenticeship as the degree apprenticeship is a little bit longer. We also do more seminar and lecture-based learning and get assessed in both exam and coursework forms at university, as well as being assessed on the job.
The length of study will definitely pay off as ultimately I will not only hold a BEng and masters degree, but also become a chartered engineer.
How has PD supported your role and studies so far?
I’m really grateful for the opportunity I have at PD Ports and I’m lucky to be surrounded by people who can support me in what I’m doing. If I’m ever having problems with any university work, there’s always someone who’s fully qualified there to help me – it’s like having the best lecture theatre in the world!
We have so many opportunities to learn from these people on the job. They have a lot of experience and you can learn things from them that you may not even realise you’re picking up.
How does it feel to be set on a dedicated path to your future?
When I started my apprenticeship, I was given a dedicated career journey that would map my progress. This made me realise that I wasn’t just going to finish my apprenticeship and there would be no plan for me afterwards.
I know where I’m going, what job I’m going to get, and that plan is something I can always come back to and think, ‘yeah I’m getting a degree and a masters, but at the end of it I’m going to be a qualified, chartered engineer’ which is brilliant for boosting my confidence knowing I have job security.
Engineering is typically a male dominated industry, how do you feel as a woman within that?
That’s totally true, but in my experience I’ve never come across anything that’s been negative towards women working in the industry. I’ve never had any negativity while I’ve been at this company, I’m treated the same way as any other engineer which is why I love coming to work each day.
What would you say to young women looking at careers within engineering?
If it’s something you’re passionate about it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t change anything.
Just go for it, we want to see more women in the industry, and more coming through apprenticeships.
Do you have any other advice to young people looking into an apprenticeship?
‘Apprentice’ can sometimes hold a stigma, and people seem to think it won’t lead to a particularly prestigious career – but that’s all it is, stigma. Degree apprenticeships are an excellent way to get real world experience while getting a fantastic education.
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