Rachel Chandler, 25, is a section manager at engineering and construction group Costain. She joined the company in 2002 having spent two six-month placements with the company as part of her four-year civil engineering and architecture degree at Bath University. Before that, she spent two years in the Army, with the Royal Engineers.
"What really attracted me to the graduate programme at Costain was the diversity of opportunities on offer for graduates, which have allowed me to get a more rounded view of engineering," says Rachel. "Since I graduated, I’ve worked in on site, in the tendering and bidding process, been seconded to a design company, and held a management role responsible for the professional development of other engineers."
All of this experience feeds into a chartership with the Institute of Civil Engineers. Rachel is now working as a section manager on a project for the Highways Agency, which is the M25′s Holmesdale Tunnel refurbishment and improvements at junction 25. She’s seen the project through from the start, initially working as the bid manager for the £57 million project and now working in the target cost phase, which involves developing the final budget. Working as part of a team is what Rachel likes most about the job: "When you’re working on a project you’re very reliant on other people but there is the feeling that everyone is pulling together with the same aim, which is great." Her least favourite aspect of the job is the long hours "Some days I’m on site at 7am and am still here at eight at night. But that’s usually when I need to meet deadlines and keep on programme". The job can also involve working away from home. "At the moment I quite enjoy moving around at short notice, it’s a lifestyle choice that I have made," she says. "There are a range of careers where you don’t have to work away from home, but it is necessary in the job that I do."
She also devotes some of her time working as the graduate and student liaison officer for the Institute of Civil Engineers. She believes the industry can offer a lot to female graduates, despite the fact that it is so male dominated. "More women are becoming attracted to the profession but I think the industry needs to do more as a whole to draw in women," she says. "Just letting them know about the range of careers which are on offer is a great start."