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'Civil engineering - The perfect mix of maths and creativity'

07 February 2020

The more Sabrina Irfan read and learned about the work that civil engineers do around the world, the more she realised she wanted to become part of the industry.

'Civil engineering - The perfect mix of maths and creativity'
Apprentice Sabrina Irfan

I have always loved numbers and maths has always been my strong subject. Therefore, when deciding which direction to take in my next step of education I knew that I wanted to do a subject that required the application of maths but also had a creative element. Civil engineering was the perfect mix of this. The more I read and learned about the work that civil engineers do around the world, the more I wanted to become a part of the industry.

My apprenticeship ticked all the boxes

I had always considered a full-time degree/traditional route as that’s what most of my friends were doing. After finishing my A-levels in Biology, Chemistry and Mathematics I took a gap year to think about my career options. I looked at BEng full time courses, but I didn’t necessarily consider apprenticeships until I came across degree apprenticeships through the GOV.UK website.

After doing research I was very impressed with what was offered as part of the scheme in comparison to a full-time degree. I was drawn to the training scheme that employers offered aligned with ICE. I knew straight away that I wanted to take the degree apprenticeship route as it fulfilled many of my tick boxes such as a degree, work experience and an ICE qualification all while earning a salary.

Working towards ICE qualifications

I am currently in my second year of a five-year programme, doing a BEng (Hons) in Civil and Infrastructure Engineering at the University of Warwick (on a block release) while being employed full time by a construction company called Keller. As part of my apprenticeship I am also working towards my IEng (Incorporation) qualification with the Institution of Civil Engineers. Once I achieve my degree in my final year, I have to sit an end point assessment with ICE after which I will have completed my apprenticeship.

Making a difference to people's lives

The main part I enjoy about my apprenticeship is the opportunity to work on real world projects that make differences to people’s everyday lives. I think that if I was doing a full-time degree, I would not have had the same types of opportunities available to me. I get to go on site and see first-hand most of the projects that I am working on which is very exciting for me.

I also have great networking opportunities open to me, I am able to speak directly with many different people such as senior engineers, managers and other professionals. This has provided me with an opportunity to learn from their experience and improve my communication skills too.

My career aspiration is to become an accomplished engineer that is able to provide solutions to real problems that are preventing societies around the world from progressing. As a civil engineer I will be in a great position to tackle these by ensuring that as many people as possible around the world have sufficient access to the basic human needs.

Be prepared for hard work!

Currently I am getting great experience on a rotational basis within different departments in my company and I also get valuable training in skills such as AutoCAD. These are skills that I will carry throughout my career. I know that by the end of my degree apprenticeship I will be well equipped, with 5 years of experience, to work as an engineer. On top of that I will also have incorporated status. For this reason, I don’t think there is a better way I could have got into the industry other than through a degree apprenticeship route.

Overall, apprenticeships are an excellent route for building the foundations that are crucial to a successful career. I would say that it is a very challenging route so you must be prepared to work hard and be dedicated to both the academic and work-based side. However, you will be more than rewarded for this hard work. With amazing benefits such as a salary, tuition free education and great work experience that will form such an important part of your future prospects. For these reasons I strongly encourage anyone who is looking into apprenticeships to just go for it!

Read more on Sabrina's route to apprenticeship on her full profile.

Discover more about civil engineering apprenticeships and how ICE can help you.

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  • Sabrina Irfan, apprentice with Keller at Keller