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“I feel fortunate that I have chosen a career path that I find both challenging and rewarding and also presents the opportunity to work abroad.”

Francesca Loader Work Experience student

Name:  Francesca Loader

Organisation attended: STEM Sussex

Work Experience Placements Include:

  • Mott MacDonald.
  • Costain
  • London Farringdon Rail and Tube station
  • Southern Water
  • Paddington New Yard Crossrail Scheme

Job title: Various

Location: London, Sussex

Francesca is a 23-year-old graduate from Brunel University with a Master’s degree in Civil Engineering with Sustainability and Professional Development.     

How did she come to decide on an engineering career?

Whilst at school, Francesca veered toward maths and science subjects. Her interest in these subjects started at the age of 7 when a teacher told her she had good skills in maths which gave her courage and self-belief. Another teacher suggested engineering as a career choice when Francesca was 14. 

What did she do?

At the age of 15, Francesca took on her first work experience placement with Mott Macdonald. Following this, she completed a paid work experience placement with a solar consultancy company at the age of 16. 

After leaving school, Francesca went to university. She was sponsored by Costain, a British construction and civil engineering company, during which time she completed three placements between 2012 and 2015 including an industrial placement year. 

In 2012, Francesca completed a ten week summer placement as a Junior Engineer at London’s Farringdon Rail and Tube station. This became her first experience of working on a construction site, supporting a £300 million refurbishment. Her industrial placement year started in July 2013 with Southern Water, working on the Portsmouth Flood Alleviation Scheme. In 2015, Francesca also completed an 11 week summer placement working on the Paddington New Yard Crossrail Scheme practising site engineer responsibilities. 

What did she gain from the experience?

Francesca gained a unique insight into the practicalities of working on site in a way that university never could. It provided her with good practical experience as well as confidence from the support of her colleagues, many of whom she is still in contact with now. 

“Since the age of 15, I have visited different construction sites from wastewater treatment works to 70m deep tunnels and spoken to many influential people who have worked on huge project all over the world. These experiences have really showcased to me the vast number of opportunities available to a young engineer.” 

In what ways has the experience had an impact on your career path/ambitions?

Francesca’s first-hand experience in the workplace has played a massive part in getting her to where she is today. Further extra-curricular activities such as site visits, volunteering events with STEM Sussex, Crossrail Young Engineers and university engineering society committee roles have also added to her skills and confidence. 

“I think doing these extra-curricular activities certainly makes you more employable but also helps tremendously in establishing people skills, a crucial skill when you interact with 30+ construction workers on a daily basis.”