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How an apprenticeship helped me become a civil engineer after a career gap

26 October 2023

Aparna Jamgade took a career break to raise her family. Find out how transferable skills helped her return to work.

How an apprenticeship helped me become a civil engineer after a career gap
Aparna has been shaping a fulfilling career in civil engineering. Image credit: Aparna Jamgade

My venture into the construction industry has been a journey defined by determination, resilience, and an unwavering passion for transforming dreams into reality.

Over the past four years, I’ve weathered twists and turns that have ultimately shaped my path, leading me to a successful and fulfilling career in civil engineering.

It all began when I joined AECOM as a technician apprentice, eager to grow and improve my skills in this prominent construction consultancy.

Currently, I’m pursuing a MEng degree in Civil Engineering from Ulster University in Belfast, showcasing my dedication and hard work.

The payoff was immense, as I achieved the EngTech MICE professional qualification from the ICE and the prestigious QUEST Technician qualification award in 2022.

And, I’m now a senior technician at AECOM!

Unexpected turns and the challenges of moving abroad

My career route experienced an unexpected turn earlier in my life.

I obtained my first degree in architecture in India.

After getting married, I relocated to the United Kingdom in 2007.

Initially, I secured a position as assistant in an architecture consultancy.

Unfortunately, the economic recession struck, dealing me a lay off and causing me to question my capabilities.

Additionally, adapting to a new country, language, work culture, and weather proved to be a formidable challenge.

Persevering in the face of adversity

In the face of adversity, I made a difficult decision to prioritise my growing family.

For the following six years, I dedicated myself to raising my young children, taking a maternity gap that allowed me to be there for them during their formative years.

When the time was right to re-enter the construction industry, limited job opportunities were available due to my overseas degree and the career gap.

Undeterred, for another six years I took up part-time roles as a customer assistant, childminder, and volunteering, all while actively participating in the school’s parent-teacher association (PTA).

Starting on the civil engineering path

However, my passion for the construction industry remained steadfast, urging me to explore alternative avenues.

Extensive research guided me toward civil engineering roles, aligning with my long-held aspirations.

Despite the initial challenges, I made the conscious decision to take a step back and rethink my career route.

The Work+ scheme presented itself as a steppingstone, even though I faced and overcame rejections tied to age-related criteria.

Taking every opportunity to learn

During my career gap, I didn't simply wait for opportunities – I seized them to acquire invaluable transferable skills.

Mastery of various software applications, understanding industry policies and procedures, proficiency in mathematics, and a deep understanding of materials became key strong points.

Additionally, my experience as a customer assistant honed my communication skills, making me more adept at connecting with people.

Love for sustainability

One transformative moment came through my involvement as an active volunteer with Sustrans, an organisation advocating for sustainable transportation.

This experience ignited a love for projects centred around greenways and sustainability.

My active engagement in the Strathfoyle greenway project was a testament to the seamless integration of past experiences into a new professional realm.

Every challenge posed an opportunity

Reflecting on my journey, I'm deeply grateful for the opportunities presented by the ICE and the unwavering determination that pushed me forward.

My diverse set of experiences has shaped me into a versatile professional, equipped to navigate the complexities of the built environment.

Every step, including the challenges and gaps in my journey, has ultimately contributed to shaping a fulfilling career in civil engineering.

I often think, if it weren't for the opportunity from the ICE, would I be where I am today?

Interested in starting an apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships are a recognised pathway to achieving professional excellence.

Find out more
  • Aparna Jamgade, senior technician at AECOM