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My Stantec Story: Balancing education and apprenticeship with Vanessa Taylor

April 05, 2023

Apprentice civil engineer Vanessa shares how an involvement in STEM activities at school led her to embark on a career in engineering

In the My Stantec Story series, our designers, engineers, marketers, project managers, and leaders come together to share how their career journeys at Stantec have shaped their lives and moved them closer to their goals.

Tell us about your role…

I have been working in the Oxford office as part of the Community Development team since October 2020. Our team deals with the design of highways and drainage systems for residential projects as well as large-scale projects, such as Oxford North. As an apprentice engineer, I support with the development of engineering drawings by using computer-aided design (CAD) software, such as AutoCAD and Civil 3D. 

What attracted you to a career at Stantec?

I was always involved in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) activities at school, which helped me realise I wanted to work within the field of engineering. I went on to complete bioengineering work experience at the Medical Research Council (MRC) in Harwell, where I was introduced to genetic engineering, as well as at Depuy Synthes where I learnt about the engineering behind their orthopaedic prosthetics. I also gained an insight into mechanical engineering during my time at the BMW Mini plant.

I was drawn to Stantec’s apprenticeship programme because even though civil engineering was something completely new to me, I had always enjoyed using CAD software at school. In addition to this, I saw that there were a lot of opportunities for progression and learning within the company.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I enjoy that I am constantly learning something new, especially in terms of CAD. I like learning how to create the array of drawings needed for design packs and picking up on different engineering terminologies and procedures along the way. I also appreciate that the apprenticeship allows me to directly apply what I learn in my modules to my work and the real-life world.

How has your personal and professional development been supported at Stantec?

Since starting my apprenticeship, my time management has considerably improved. Finding the work, academia, and social balance was challenging to begin with, but now I’m able to juggle more things and stay calm under tough deadlines. Also, through the Developing Professionals Group (DPG), I have learnt about the importance of networking and creating contacts with the people around you, as their experiences can enrich your understanding.

The apprenticeship allows me to directly apply what I learn in my modules to the real-life world, and I know I can ask questions or for support from my lecturers, as well as from all the engineers around me at work.

What has been the standout project for you during your time at Stantec?

My standout project so far would be the A423 Kennington Improvement Scheme in Oxford. This involved replacing Kennington Bridge and enhancing the surrounding road layout and cycleways. During the production of the preliminary and detailed design pack, I have seen myself work more independently, putting my CAD skills and knowledge into proper practice. This is also the first project where I have been introduced to some basic 3D procedures.

What are your ambitions for the future at Stantec?

After recently completing my Level 3 apprenticeship and attaining EngTech accreditation, I have now started on my Level 6 Degree apprenticeship at Warwick University. I will be studying here for five years on the Civil and Infrastructure course, whilst simultaneously signing off my Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) attributes, with the aim of achieving Incorporated Engineer (IEng) status soon after completing my degree.

What are your passions outside of work?

Outside of work, I am very sociable and love making time for trips and festivals with my friends. I am committed to my local football team where I have played in goal for the past five or so years, and I pair this with regular gym training to improve my fitness and strength.

Why should others join the Stantec team?

Stantec’s apprenticeship programme is very generous—the company is very thoughtful towards students trying to balance work and education. The company offers a network of support, from mentors to ICE contacts to a variety of workshops, all to help you achieve the most with your time. Stantec also encourages community involvement through STEM activities and charitable sports and social events, so there’s always something to look forward to outside of the working day.

At Stantec, we put people first, and for Vanessa that means supporting her development as she balances both work and study during her apprenticeship. If you want to start your career at Stantec, visit Graduates & Apprentices to find out more. 

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