Blog - How I carved a graduate career
in civil engineering - Emma Feechan

14 July 2022

Emma Feechan, Specialist Graduate, talks about her career journey in civil engineering in the water industry…

“As a school leaver it can be difficult to decide what to do with your future career.  I learned the hard way having started International Business studies at Uni when I soon realised it wasn’t for me.

“I decided to leave Uni and take some time out to travel. It wasn’t until I went abroad and saw how poor the infrastructure was elsewhere that I started to think about how things were built, and how good our water and waste systems are at home – that’s what washing from a bucket in Thailand will get you!

Opportunity knocks…

When I came home, I applied to study Civil Engineering at The University of the West of Scotland. I really enjoyed studying hydraulics, so when a summer internship came up at Scottish Water I jumped at the opportunity. 

My three-month placement was a brilliant experience.  It gave me a taste of the culture and what the work of a Project Manager involves. I loved the job so much that I applied for the Scottish Water Graduate Scheme last year.

Since then I’ve met a great bunch of fellow graduates. As well as gaining valuable experience, I’ve had the chance to participate in several volunteering opportunities and events. Some of my highlights were dressing up in a toilet costume to raise money for WaterAid and chatting to customers at the Royal Highland Show.

Dressing up for the Riverside Festival and volunteering at the Royal Highland Show

Expanding my ‘Horizons’

Earlier this year I joined Horizons as part of my graduate development.  My current role involves assisting the delivery of new pumping stations to housing developers. 

This has given me the chance to manage a project from start to finish – from a developer’s initial enquiry, through to design, construction, completion, and final vesting (adoption) by Scottish Water. It’s been a fantastic experience to help develop my career.  There’s just so much to learn, and I love getting my sleeves rolled-up and being immersed in new things.

It’s also been fascinating to learn more about what Horizons does to drive down emissions. Some interesting areas include solar PV, hydrogen, hydropower, and energy production from food waste.  I’ll also be visiting one of the Development Centres soon to see how innovators test and develop new technologies.

Visiting site to see the construction of a valve chamber for a new pumping station

Onwards and upwards

Soon I’ll be moving onto my next placement to gain more experience in different areas.  That’s means gaining deeper knowledge on all things water-related and meeting even more amazing people. 

I’m also continuing my studies by doing a master’s degree in civil engineering at the University of Strathclyde.

I’m loving every moment of my time here.  Hopefully in a few years’ time I’ll be in a more senior role so I can contribute more to the business.  Water is such a vital part of our lives, and I’m thrilled to be able to play a part in supporting this precious resource.”

Thanks Emma, that’s really interesting and glad you’re enjoying your placement with us!  Before you go, we’d like to ask you some quick-fire questions!

What advice would you give to people just about to start Uni in your area of study?

“Definitely try to get an internship or experience in an engineering environment during university. It will work wonders for your career. And don’t be afraid of what you don’t know, that’s why you’re there – to learn!”

What’s the best advice you’ve been given?

“My Grandad lived from the 1930s to 2021 and has always told me the world is constantly changing and to move forward with it. I interpret this as being open to change and embracing progress. Arguably a better piece of advice from him would be “you’ve got to have a laugh”.”

What would your dream job be?

“Anything that would pay a few million to see the world!”

What do you like to do to when you’re not working?

“In my own time I like to get outside, socialise, and catch up with my pals and family.  I like to sew and make my own clothes which come in handy.  I also do embroidery which people order from me!”

A few examples of my recent embroidery projects
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