Institution of Civil Engineers: Sabrina Irfan

Sabrina Irfan is an apprentice civil engineer at Keller, doing a BEng (Hons) in civil and infrastructure engineering at the University of Warwick, and working towards professional qualification with the Institution of Civil Engineers


Why did you choose a civil engineering degree apprenticeship?

I chose to do an apprenticeship because it offered me the opportunity to get real world experience and gain invaluable employability skills alongside a degree.

I had always considered a full-time degree as that’s what most of my friends were doing. After discovering degree apprenticeships, I was very impressed with what was offered. I knew straight away that I wanted to take the degree apprenticeship route as it fulfilled many of my tick boxes such as a degree, work experience and an ICE qualification–all while earning a salary.

I would say that there is no better way to become a civil engineer than through an apprenticeship.


What is the highlight of your apprenticeship?

Being able to become an incorporated engineer (IEng MICE) with the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE).

I am in my second year of a five-year programme, doing a BEng (Hons) in civil and infrastructure engineering at the University of Warwick (on a block release) while being employed full time by a construction company called Keller.

As part of my apprenticeship I am working towards achieving IEng MICE. Once I complete my degree in my final year, I sit an end point assessment with ICE after which I will have completed my apprenticeship and can gain IEng MICE.


Why civil engineering?

I have always loved numbers and maths has always been my strong subject. When deciding which direction to take I knew that I wanted to do a subject that required the application of maths but also had a creative element. Civil engineering was the perfect mix of this.

The more I read and learned about the work that civil engineers do around the world, the more I wanted to become a part of the industry. Civil engineering plays a vital role in people’s everyday life and wellbeing and it boosts a country’s economy.


What’s so great about being a civil engineer?

I get to work on projects that have a tangible effect on people’s lives and help to improve their quality of life.

My career aspiration is to become an accomplished engineer that is able to provide solutions to real problems that are preventing societies around the world from progressing.

As a civil engineer I will be in a great position to tackle these issues by ensuring that as many people as possible around the world have sufficient access to the basic human needs.


What does a day at work look like for you?

My days are very varied, with time split between working at the office and visiting sites.

I am getting great experience on a rotational basis within different departments at Keller. Currently I am working in the drawing office department, responsible for producing technical drawings using software AutoCAD. When I go on site, I can see my work being implemented first-hand, which is very exciting. The rest of a normal day involves communicating with architects and senior engineers.

I get valuable training in skills that I will carry throughout my career. I also have great networking opportunities open to me and can speak directly with many different people such as senior engineers, managers and other professionals. This has given me the opportunity to learn from their experience and improve my communication skills.


Any final words of advice?

Apprenticeships are an excellent route for building the foundations that are crucial to a successful career.

It is a very challenging route so you must be prepared to work hard and be dedicated to both the academic and work-based side. However, you will be more than rewarded for this hard work, with amazing benefits such as a salary, tuition-free education and great work experience that will form such an important part of your future prospects.

By the end of my degree apprenticeship I will be well equipped, with five years of experience, to work as a civil engineer. On top of that I will also have Incorporated Engineer status with ICE.


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