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Rhianna Matheson-Smith

Rhianna Matheson-Smith

Technician Apprentice

Expertise

Design, Water

Location

United Kingdom
Career highlights

Working towards a degree with the full support of my employer

Being promoted from trainee to technician after passing my HNC

Professional progression through increased responsibilities and experience

A day in my life

I currently work for an engineering consultancy, Fairhurst. It gives me the ability to earn my degree along with other qualifications whilst gaining vital industry experience. I’m primarily based in an office working on a computer with design software such as MicroDrainage and PDS.

One day I could be in the office working on a road design or preparing drawings to be submitted for a planning application and the next I could be on site digging trial pits or attending a meeting with a client.

That being said we do go out and visit sites regularly whether that be for meetings or inspections during the construction phase.

I love the gratification of being able to see projects come to life that I have been involved with from start to finish.

The opportunities a civil engineering apprenticeship can give you are endless. It can be applied across a large variety of jobs on and off site so there’s something for everyone.

what has been a highlight(s) of your apprenticeship?

The gratification of being able to see projects I have been involved with from start to finish come to life. I am also able to see my progression in the work place as I gain experience through the responsibilities and jobs I do now compared to when I first joined.

My apprenticeship has also allowed me to work my way towards a degree with the full support of my employer. So far I have achieved an A at HNC level which allowed me to be promoted from trainee to technician. I am currently in my final year of the HND course before I start my degree year in September.

what’s one great thing that you love about civil engineering that you didn’t know until you started working in the industry?

The diverse career opportunities that civil engineering can give you. Civil engineering integrates into so many different aspects of day-to-day life. Without civil engineering we would wouldn’t have roads, clean water or access to rest of the world!

I had no idea that apprenticeships existed outside of the typical construction jobs, i.e. plumber/brick layer etc., as there was little to no information given about them when I was in school. There are now so many different apprenticeships available to suit a wide variety of career paths.

which civil engineering myth(s) you would like to bust?

You’re always outside in the cold and mud!

For me personally this is not the case. As I work for an engineering consultancy I’m primarily based in an office working on a computer with design software such as MicroDrainage and PDS. That being said we do go out and visit sites regularly whether that be for meetings or inspections during the construction phase.

which individual project or person inspired you to become a civil engineer?

I wouldn’t say there was a person or project in particular. I remember I had just received my sixth year exam results and didn’t meet the conditions for my place at university.

In a panic I arranged a meeting with a careers adviser who put the idea of civil engineering into my head after I told her I enjoyed Maths and Graphic Communications in school. Not long after I found an apprenticeship opportunity at Fairhurst and the rest is history!

which civil engineering project (past or present) do you wish you’d worked on?

The Thames Tideway Tunnel in London. I remember watching the BBC documentary on it and thinking wow! The engineering and planning behind the project is incredible and the benefit it will have to not only the environment but also the people of London is amazing.

what about being a technician inspires you?

The excitement of a challenge. Within civil engineering we are often faced with problems and our job is to find the best way to solve or avoid them. Some can be trickier than others but the satisfaction you get once you’ve figured it out and made the client happy makes it all worth it.

what would you say to anyone considering a civil engineering apprenticeship?

Go for it! It’s one of the best decisions I’ve made for my career. The opportunities a civil engineering apprenticeship can give you are endless, it can be applied across a large variety of jobs on and off site so there’s something for everyone.

Being able to work towards a degree whilst having a full time job and earning a salary that reflects your achievements is great.

You’re able to build strong working relationships with clients and be part of a team of people who are there for you if you need support.