Alumni spotlight!

Posted by Gemma | Tue, 23 Apr 2024

We recently caught up with one of the first participants of the Youth STEMM Award, Gemma Ridgway. Her interview is full of words of encouragement and an insight into the world of engineering, as well as how her Youth STEMM Award helped her get there. Looking for tips and advice for completing your Youth STEMM Award? She’s got you covered!

What have you been up to since finishing your Youth STEMM Award?

Once I had completed my YSA, I started as a Pressure Control and Storage Apprentice in 2016 before spending 6 years in the Gas Industry as a Lead Gas Technician on the distribution side working in above ground and underground pits maintaining the gas supply around the UK. I decided to try something new with my career and went into the Chemical Manufacturing Industry where I started as a Chemical Manufacturing Operator and then very quickly got promoted to Mechanical Planning Supervisor because of my background of always wanting to improve reliability and help things run efficiently.

What does your current job involve?

I help lead all the shutdowns we have on site including ensuring the shutdowns are on time and completed to high standard. I deal with many things across site and lead the reliability team, working alongside and collaborating closely with plant engineers and the plant teams to ensure the best performance out of the plants can be achieved.

How do you think YSA helped you get to where you are now?

Completing my YSA has been a big help in my career journey. It gave me a solid foundation of skills and knowledge that I’ve been able to use in various roles. Whether I’m working on gas distribution or in chemical manufacturing, the things I learned during my YSA has been super useful. It’s helped me understand the technical side of things and given me the problem-solving skills I need to tackle challenges on the job. It gave me a good insight into the engineering world, and I was able to see and do so many things to gain knowledge and confidence in the engineering world before I went into it.

YSA had a huge impact on my confidence. Through the required hours of personal development, I gained clarity on my goals and aspirations. It helped me focus not only on what I wanted to do, but also on what I aimed to achieve by pursuing this award. Setting and working towards these goals gave me a sense of direction and purpose, boosting my confidence in my abilities and future prospects. The structured nature of the program provided a framework for self-improvement and allowed me to track my progress, which was incredibly helpful.

What skills did you gain from participating in YSA?

Participating in the YSA has equipped me with a diverse range of skills that have been invaluable in both my personal and professional life. Firstly, the program helped me develop strong communication skills, enabling me to effectively convey ideas, collaborate with others, and build relationships. Additionally, I honed my problem-solving abilities, learning to analyse situations critically and devise creative solutions. Time management became second nature as I learned to prioritize tasks and meet deadlines efficiently. The YSA also emphasised the importance of teamwork and leadership, fostering my ability to work collaboratively in a team environment and take on leadership roles when necessary. The program instilled in me a commitment to continuous learning and professional development, encouraging me to stay curious and seek out opportunities for growth.

Do you have any tips or advice for future participants?

  1. Have Clear Goals: Figure out what you want to achieve from the program, whether it’s improving skills or advancing in your career.
  2. Use Resources: Take advantage of workshops, materials, and mentorship opportunities provided by the program.
  3. Stay Organised: Keep track of deadlines and commitments using calendars or to-do lists.
  4. Be Proactive: Take initiative in your learning, participate actively, and ask questions when needed.
  5. Accept Feedback: Be open to constructive criticism and use it to improve.
  6. Network: Connect with other participants and industry professionals for support and opportunities.
  7. Stay Committed: Dedicate yourself to completing the program and stay motivated to achieve your goals.

It is important to have fun and use YSA to help with your growth. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the help and support that I received from the YSA. It’s a fantastic opportunity for inspiring the STEMM of the future.

Author Biography

Gemma was one of the first young people to achieve a Youth STEMM Award!

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