Future female engineers

Grace Pownall: I secured my dream graduate job thanks to Future Female Engineers

Grace headshot

Last November I was fortunate enough to be invited to attend TARGETjobs’ Future Female Engineers event, held at Arup HQ in London. This exclusive networking event was a chance to meet engineering students from across the country and engage with big names from the engineering industry such as Arup, AECOM, Mace and Laing O’Rourke. Having completed two summer placements with Arup as an undergraduate structural engineer I was keen to see their headquarters. I applied for the event quite early; there was an online application form detailing my studies, why I wanted to attend the event and what I was looking for in terms of placements or graduate jobs.

Two weeks later I was invited for a telephone interview: another common feature of the application process for most engineering employers. The short interview with Justine at TARGETjobs Events encouraged me to think on my feet when considering the questions that I was asked. A couple of weeks afterwards, I was offered a place at the event, giving me plenty of time to book my travel to London – which was swiftly reimbursed by TARGETjobs after the event.

The TARGETjobs Events team regularly kept in contact with attendees through a private Facebook group and regular emails. This included a list of panellists who were going to be at the event, allowing us to research the companies and engineers beforehand so we could get the most out of it.

Soon 10 November rolled around and I got on the train to London from Nottingham. Fortunately, registration for the event started at 11.30am so I didn’t have to worry about getting up too early! I arrived with plenty of time to spare, allowing me to navigate the Tube and get to the London office.

Experiences on the day

The day had a nice balance between guest speakers, panels and skills sessions, as well as informal networking with other students, successful women in engineering and recruiters. I loved meeting other students who were like-minded and passionate about engineering; it was invigorating and motivating to meet so many intelligent and inspiring women who will undoubtedly go on to do amazing things in their careers.

The most useful part of the day, in my opinion, was the team challenge which was effectively a mock group exercise for an assessment centre. Our team was required to design, assemble and test an apparatus to hold a pack of pasta to withstand a drop from 2m high. Although this task did not focus on my specific engineering discipline, it was good practice for making decisions and communicating and working as a team with a group of strangers while being watched and assessed by recruiters – but in a relaxed environment. Practising these soft skills calmed my nerves before I attended assessment centres for real. Plus, my team won the challenge, with our balloon-parachute-pasta-parcel withstanding both drops and coming in under budget!

Confident applications

Future Female Engineers helped me feel prepared and confident applying for a graduate scheme with Arup and going into their assessment centre, which resulted in me being offered my dream graduate job as graduate structural engineer the following month. I would certainly recommend attending this event; not only is it a great talking point for interviews that evidences passion for a career in the engineering industry, I met some fantastic contemporaries whom I keep in touch with and it confirmed that an engineering career is the one for me.

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