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Students inspired by online careers event

Friday 15th May 2020 11:00

People taking part in the virtual careers talk.

An online careers event has given Reading students a fascinating insight into science and IT careers at Thames Water, despite the coronavirus lockdown.

Around 35 students, aged 14-18, attended the first industry insight talk organised by the Activate Learning Education Trust on Thursday, May 7 to listen to Thames Water staff working in water operations and IT.

The event was open to all schools in the Activate Learning Education Trust group, which includes students from UTC Reading, a college specialising in engineering and computer science.

With most students studying at home due to the coronavirus lockdown, the Thames Water ambassadors used Microsoft Teams to share their educational and career experiences to inspire the next generation of engineers, scientists and IT specialists.

As well as providing an overview of their roles at Thames Water, careers advice and answering questions from students, the speakers highlighted the transferable skills, such as problem solving, teamwork and data analysis, which they use every day to support Thames Water’s essential water and wastewater services.

Saarah Saddiq, a year 10 student at UTC Reading, said: “I thought the talk was carried out very well. The staff appeared to be very passionate about their roles at Thames Water and it was interesting to have an idea of what their typical day would be like at work. The graduate schemes and apprenticeships they offer seem very intriguing and perhaps something I would like to apply for in the future.”

Haseeb Minhas, a year 13 student at UTC Reading, added: “It was inspiring to hear from different people within Thames Water about their own career path, and also learning more about their roles at Thames Water.”

One of the speakers was Samantha Over, who is on the graduate programme at Thames Water. Samantha graduated from the University of Exeter with a Bsc in Biological Sciences in 2019. She is currently on a placement as a water quality risk scientist. Her role involves assessing the company’s water treatment sites and the rivers where water is taken from, to identify where risks to the quality of the water supply could occur.

Samantha said: “I’ve always wanted to work somewhere that aligned with my own passions of caring for the environment and helping other people. By joining the Thames Water graduate programme, I’ve had the opportunity to discover different scientific roles within the water industry. It’s great to be able to pass on what I’ve learned from my experiences to the students at UTC Reading, and give them the opportunity to ask questions about next steps after college.”

Martin Thomas, an engineering teacher at UTC Reading, added: “This was a fantastic inaugural Industry Insights talk – an excellent model to follow for future Industry Insights talks.”

The other Thames Water speakers were:

  • Chris Ferrey, IT project manager who joined Thames Water in 2004. Chris originally was in the Navy, where he worked for nine years on submarines. He then worked for various IT companies. His role involves procuring and testing the hardware and software Thames Water uses to connect its staff across hundreds of operational sites and offices.
  • Hannah Leggatt, who joined Thames Water as a graduate in 2018, after graduating from the University of Reading with a Bsc in chemistry with a year in industry. Hannah works in North London as a continuous improvement lead. She is responsible for improving Thames Water’s clean water operations, which involves closely working with Thames Water’s engineers out in the field.

Thames Water provides water and waste services to 15 million people in the Thames Valley and London. The company employs over 6,000 people who work across multiple operational sites, laboratories, office sites and in the field.

Before the lockdown, Thames Water operated its comprehensive education programme from seven specialist centres based at its sites and through visits to schools by speakers. Over the last five years, 100,000 schoolchildren have been given a fascinating insight into how the company deals with clean water and waste for millions of customers.

Thames Water staff are classed as key workers, meaning those who cannot work from home, during the coronavirus pandemic are continuing to fix leaks, clear blockages and maintain services at reservoirs, treatment works and sewage sites in accordance with government guidelines.

The Activate Learning Education Trust group is made up of UTC Reading, UTC Swindon, UTC Oxfordshire, Bicester Studio School, Bicester Technology College and Theale Green School.

More information about Thames Water careers, including the Thames Water graduate and apprenticeship programmes can be viewed on our careers website.