Guest Blog by Helen Brindley, Degree Apprentice, Siemens plc
Helen is a member of the Industry Apprentice Council (IAC), founded by EAL, who act on behalf of apprentices in the advanced manufacturing and engineering sector and other related industries. To help us celebrate International Women in Engineering Day, Helen has written a guest blog telling us about her experiences as a female in engineering.
I enjoy telling people about my job, but often when people find out that I am an engineering apprentice I receive one of two reactions. "Why have you decided to do that?" Or," That's good, they are always looking for more women". Although the somewhat outdated opinion that only men can be engineers is a thing of the past, there is still a severe lack of female engineers in the workforce, resulting in a vast talent pool that is not yet being utilised!
There is a misconception of engineers that they get covered in grease and get their hands dirty. Although that can be a part of the role where some jobs do have this background, not all engineering positions involve this. Design engineers, for example are office based, where they have the opportunity to go out and visit installations, however the majority of their time is spend in the office carrying out important engineering tasks such as creating schematics and making revision changes.
Since starting my apprenticeship I have been given a number of opportunities that have helped my personal development. Pushing me out of my comfort zone and forcing me to challenge the status quo, through engineering projects and responsibilities within placements. Another part of my role is that I am given the opportunity to go into schools and talk about my experiences and influences. Earlier this year I was fortunate to be featured in a BBC article about breaking the mould in a male dominated workplace.
I am coming to the mid-point in my apprenticeship, having just completed my second out of 4 years. The scheme that I am on allows me to complete rotational placements around the business. This allows a number of new skills to be learnt and developed on the job and allows a young person to find their talents instead of being trained for a specific role and that role only.
The best part of my apprenticeship is the aspect of facing a new challenge every day. A number of the placements carried out provide the opportunity to step out of your comfort zone and take on responsibility that would not otherwise be provided.
The main advice I would give anyone considering a career in engineering is to go for it, there are many different routes to take. An apprenticeship, a degree with an internship, a graduate scheme these are all valid routes and within the workplace no one is seen as better than anyone else despite the route that they have chosen to take because at the end of the day it is you actions when you are in the workplace that decide how you are regarded by your peers and employers.