South Thames College: Fiona Keenaghan

20-year-old Fiona Keenaghan is a civil engineering apprentice with Thames Tideway Tunnel while studying at South Thames College

Civil engineering apprentice Fiona tried A-levels but soon realised they weren’t right for her. Inspired by her brother, who had also been an engineering apprentice, she started an apprenticeship with Thames Tideway Tunnel instead. Getting to work on one of London’s largest infrastructure projects has been a valuable experience for Fiona. “It suits me because I’m working and studying at the same time, and whatever I’m working on at college, I can see it happening in the office or out at sites. If I need any help with my assignments there’s always someone at work to talk to, no matter how busy they are,” she said.

“I’m in constant contact with other teams, including senior staff, and they give me small projects to manage. And when I’m a fully qualified engineer, I’ll have seven years of experience behind me already, but no debt because my company pays for my education.”

On top of all that, Fiona’s work with local schools and colleges led to her being named Inspirational Apprentice of the Year at the 2014 STEMNET Awards, which earned her a trip to Switzerland to see the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. “I want to do everything I can to inspire other students to consider a STEM career,” said Fiona, and she’s especially keen to see other women in the field. “Don’t be afraid that engineering is perceived as a male-dominated world. I don’t notice it in the office, as everyone is so welcoming. So don’t be afraid to apply!”

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