Graduate Structural Engineer reflects on her time as an apprentice

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To celebrate National Apprenticeship Week, we have interviewed people working in the construction industry who started their careers as apprentices. Meet Holly Peirson, Holly started her career as an Apprentice Civil Engineer for Suffolk Highways and now works as a Graduate Structural Engineer at Superstructures based in Ipswich.

I worked as an Apprentice Civil Engineer for Suffolk Highways, moving between teams every 6 months for 2 years. During this time I worked within the Design team, Highways surfacing team, Operations team and Operations planning team. I chose to do an apprenticeship as I wanted to kick-start my career at an early age, gaining on the job knowledge, learning and understanding whilst earning. Without a doubt the best thing I took from my apprenticeship was the ‘on the job’ experience and wealth of knowledge gained from leaning on the job and colleagues around me. Furthermore, this gave me the resources to apply to my studies and learning during and well after my apprenticeship.

I took the leap of faith when I discussed with my parents that I did not want to attend full time university. With neither of them attending university but having successful careers, they recommended that I would gain much more from learning on the job and not getting into debt. A career should be chosen by yourselves, not chosen due to peer pressure to stay with friends or because you are told to do a particular role or career. You should seek advice where you see fit, and choose something you are passionate about. Having chosen to do an apprenticeship myself, I not only chose a career in engineering that went against my typical female peers, but I did not attend full time university. At the time I felt I had failed myself and my family, but looking back now it was one of the best decisions of my life. I am proud of myself, where I have come and how I have challenged the norm of doing an apprenticeship. I hope that I can continue to inspire others to take the leap of faith that I did by doing an apprenticeship.