From GCSE's to university, Jennie discusses her journey to her career today as a Principal Engineer with some great advice you might also find helpful for your own careers.

We’ve asked womxn in STEM to write a letter to their younger self to see what advice they would give. Today’s letter comes from Jennie Harrison MEng (Hons) MICE CEng – Principal Engineer (Roads) at AECOM.

Jennie Harrison

To Jennie,

I am writing this letter to you from seventeen years in the future (spooky!).  You are 15, in the middle of your GCSEs and about to start Sixth Form after the summer break. You will love Sixth Form – you don’t know this yet, but there will be free periods (yes, really!) and lots fun times with friends (who will still be your friends now). 

You have chosen your A-Levels – Mathematics, Physics, History and Graphics, and you will find them a bit of a step up from GCSEs, but that’s OK.

Also read: What Advice Do You Have For Someone Who’s Having Difficulties With What To Study At A-level? 

There will be lots of opportunities for extracurricular activities, please pick the ones which actually interest you and not just because they look good on your UCAS application.

Make sure you take part in the Royal Academy of Engineering project though – it will change your life for the better! Also, it’s a good idea to do work experience next summer, just to investigate and discount alternative career paths. 

You might also be interested in STEM Ideas For Work Experience.

Unfortunately, you won’t get the grade you want in Physics; you will be devastated and won’t go out to celebrate on “Results Night”. Somehow, you still get onto the course you want to do – Civil Engineering at The University of Manchester (phew!). University is overall very good and an exciting new adventure – there will be some tough times, but you’ll get through them and make some new friends for life. There will be recession as you finish University (uh-oh), but you will be fortunate and manage to get a job you love (99% of the time!).    

Keep working hard and trying your best but remember to take breaks and have some fun. 

Don’t worry, everything will be OK in the end. You got this!

Love from Jennie x

PS – In the future, you don’t have purpleish hair anymore, but you still like decent music! 

This piece was written by Jennie Harrison, Principal Engineer at AECOM.
Follow Jennie on Instagram: @thecivilenjeneer

You might also be interested in:
What Subjects Would You Recommend For Someone Interested In Engineering?
How Do I Get Started in Engineering?
What Type Of Engineering Should I Do?
Read more from the Letter To My Teenage Self series.

For more information regarding Engineering check out: EngineeringUK

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