Louise Hetherington

Current employer: Atkins

Current job title: Graduate Structural Engineer

Current location: Bristol

“Plymouth is now a university from which top multinational firms consider and select candidates for their intake of placement students and graduates, which is incredible when up against Russell Group and Oxbridge students.”
Tell us what you have been doing since completing your studies.

Since completing my studies, I have been on a three week trip around Southeast Asia before commencing my role as a graduate structural engineer.

What is the best, most exciting or fun thing that you have done in your career?

Whilst I was on my placement year I had the opportunity to work on prestigious historic structures, such as Hampton Court Palace and the Banqueting House, completing tasks such as structural surveys, AutoCAD drawings, and calculations.

Imagine you were about to start university again - with the benefit of hindsight - what would you now tell yourself to have done differently?

Make the most of the social aspects of your first year and the sports and other societies, as the course only gets harder. Having done a gap year, I really focused on making sure I got back into studying and feel like I may have missed out on some of the more lively aspects of student life.

What was your main reason for choosing to study your course at Plymouth? With hindsight how significant was this for you?

The course at Plymouth, which I initially enrolled on, was civil and coastal engineering. Plymouth was, and still is, the only university which offers such a course. It also helped that the course was accredited and industrial opportunities were plentiful, both at placement and graduate level.

How did studying at Plymouth change your career aspirations and plans?

My aspirations, both a decade ago and now, are to be a chartered engineer by the time I am 30. My degree at Plymouth has enabled me to get into a graduate role which supports this aspiration.

What is your favourite memory of studying for your degree at Plymouth?

The ability to study and socialise in close proximity to the sea. A trip to the Hoe always helped me to relax after a stressful day at University and very few University cities can offer everything (town, countryside, sea, and facilities) all within a short walk or bus ride.

How well did Plymouth prepare you for the challenges that you have faced, or will face, in your career?

The course focused very much on the practical application; this has put me in a good position, perhaps even slightly ahead of other graduates, who have completed a course which consists of a more theoretical approach to the subject matter.

Why would you recommend undertaking a course with the University?

Plymouth is an up and coming university, and with regards to engineering especially its reputation has grown immensely since I started my course in 2011. Plymouth is now a university from which top multinational firms consider and select candidates for their intake of placement students and graduates, which is incredible when up against Russell Group and Oxbridge students.

If you did a placement how did this impact on your short and long term career plans?

The placement, without a doubt, increased my graduate employment potential. As well as increasing my ability to get the job I’ve always wanted, the placement helped to cement knowledge learnt in my first two years of the course and allowed me to have a break from the studying aspect of the degree, whilst still learning invaluable skills. I would one hundred per cent recommend a placement to anyone who has the opportunity. Doors have been opened much sooner and further by having this prior experience.

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civil engineering. Image courtesy of Shutterstock. bridge viaduct