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Nationwide: Laura's Engineering Story

Category: Blogger's Corner, women in stem, Engineering, Finance

Nationwide: Laura's Engineering Story

Growing up in my hometown of Cwmbran I never saw subjects as being associated with a certain gender; this was mainly down to my older sister who went on to be a Physics teacher. From a young age she displayed the skills of her future role by encouraging me to choose subjects according to where my talents lie rather than just copying others.

My strengths at school were in Chemistry and Maths so when it came to choosing a subject to study at university I was struggling to choose between them. I was introduced to someone at my sister's university studying Chemical Engineering. I felt this subject would allow me to continue with the two subjects and lead me into a career involving them both.

After studying for 4 years at the University of Nottingham I achieved a 2.1 Masters in Chemical Engineering. Unfortunately, I graduated in the recession. I applied for numerous Chemical/Process Engineering Graduate Schemes; however competition was fierce as the number of places available was greatly reduced compared to previous years.

After getting numerous rejections I looked at temporary job placements which mainly focussed on the Chemistry side of my degree. Jobs ranged from a School Science Technician to a Project Chemist working for a water treatment product company. I started to realise I didn't enjoy spending time in the lab; I much preferred the part of Chemistry where you analyse the results, make conclusions and identify possible improvements to the process. Although this wasn't the best time of my life, the pay was awful and there was no job security, it had provided me with some focus as to where I wanted to take my career - I wanted to analyse data.

Once I had this focus I changed the direction of my job applications from Chemical Engineering jobs to Data Analysis roles. From going 4 years without a permanent job offer I had 3 job offers within a couple of weeks - one of which with Nationwide. I chose Nationwide as the role seemed interesting and provided me with a variety of ways to continue to develop the skills I had from university.

At the age of 28 I've found a job which fits with my interests and skills as an Intelligence Analyst in Location Planning. My role involves gathering data, analysing the results and explaining what the data shows. People will ask what Chemical Engineering has to do with Location Planning? Instead of changing the temperature/pressure in a pipe to see if it improves the efficiency of a fluid flowing through it I am investigating what changing the number of branches/facilities has on the Nationwide network and the impact this could have on customers.

I would advise young women to choose a subject you are good at and enjoy. If that happens to be Maths then I would strongly consider an Engineering degree as it develops many transferrable skills and allows you to analyse data from real situations. Just remember once you graduate look beyond specific Engineering graduate programmes, as your degree provides you with numerous transferable skills that can be used in a variety of applications.

Are you interested in a career with Nationwide? Please click here!

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