Case study

Catherine — Graduate naval architect


Discover how Catherine’s summer placement and MEng in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering led to a career as a naval architect

How did you get your job as a naval architect?

I felt work experience was very important so I used my summer breaks to gain insight into the naval sector.

I worked as a research assistant looking into antifouling paint, travelled to China to compare the shipping industry and undertook a summer placement at Babcock Rosyth where I was involved in the Queen Elizabeth Carrier float off and incline. At the end of my placement I was offered a graduate position.

How relevant was your degree in securing your job?

My degree was incredibly relevant and covered basic engineering principles, specialising in ship design and systems analysis.

While preparing me academically, university allowed me to develop other skills useful in engineering, such as problem solving and team working.

What’s a typical day like?

My placements rotate quarterly, so my daily activities differ depending on this. My placement experiences have varied from assisting bid managers to conducting hull optimisation for a naval vessel.

I am also involved in STEM projects enabling me to encourage the future engineering generation.

How has your role developed?

Rotating placements has been hugely beneficial and has offered me an insight into different departments and has enabled me to improve numerous skills.

This experience and the professional development on offer will help me decide my future career path.

Longer term, I am keen to gain a position in the naval architecture team, become a chartered engineer, and then hopefully move into a leadership role.

What do you enjoy about your job?

I enjoy the range of opportunities available and the people. I have been lucky to have worked on numerous projects with many fantastic individuals, who happily took the time to explain aspects of task I didn’t understand and help me reach my full potential.

What are the challenges?

For me it is time management. The role is demanding, and as a graduate I am expected to fulfil my placement objectives and take on additional responsibilities.

Balancing these demands can be difficult, but if managed correctly the results are really satisfying.

What are the best things about this sector?

It allows me to constantly challenge myself to keep up with the requirements of the business and the industry.

The people I work with hold so much experience and there’s a lot to learn from them. As a team we tackle new, exciting and complex engineering challenges together.

What advice do you have for others who would like to get into this career?

Make sure that you have evidence of relevant opportunities that set you apart from the crowd and show interest in your chosen career path.

Don’t underestimate soft skills such as communication and team working - these are prized in the industry. Make sure you have examples of when you have worked as part of a team, or taken the lead on a project. It will be the additional tasks that you take on that will separate you from everyone else.

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