I recently went to a careers event, Future Female Engineers, held at the headquarters for Network Rail. It was an eye-opening experience, deepening my love for STEM and engineering all at once. There were talks from senior female engineers in large reputable companies such as Exxon Mobil and UK Power Networks that gave us their experiences from university up to their dazzling roles.
Hearing from these women about their hunger for challenge and responsibility in the world of engineering really inspired me and by the end of the day had me dreaming of being a high-powered engineer at the height of my career. “Hold on a minute” I thought to myself. “You were dead certain that you had no interest in going into management”.
Well that was true then, but now is a different time.
How could I suddenly have interests in a new career path, having been on placement for months now, loving the technical side and being awe-struck by senior engineers who has stayed on the technical side, watching the incomparable skills as they worked? My manager is a wonderful engineer, but I couldn’t help but notice how many reports, spreadsheets, and general meetings he had to do, as well as hearing from him how little he got to work on any of the technical assignments that passed through our office. This had put me in the camp of definitely wanting to stay technical throughout my career, with no interest in becoming a manger of any sort, so what changed? Simply put, going into management is a way of furthering my love for the work I do by making sure it is always done well, as well as giving me chance to grow and learn about my company in a way I would be blocking myself off from if I didn’t entertain the idea at all.
By no means am I planning to be the CEO of a company, but being a project manager isn’t as daunting a prospect as it was before, giving me more avenues to look into come graduation. A big point I got from the day was to not pin-point a specific career so early on, as it could lead to being pigeon-holed into one area with no chances of growth and variety which could start to weigh one day. Although I ultimately want a technical role in mechanical analysis, there should be nothing stopping me from looking at any other avenues I find interesting along the way.