STEM Ambassador Profile
Name: Sandra Hardwick
Organisation: Frank Dixon Associates
Job Title: Chartered Building Surveyor
Area of work or study
I left school after my GCSE's and knew that I wanted to be a surveyor but didn't want to do A'Levels. I got a job as a trainee surveyor and did my BTEC HNC part time at the local College for 4 years. After that I went to university and studied for a BSc(Hons) then an MSc both full time. After graduating I found a job as a "probationer" in a surveyor's office and completed my two year professional training. Then I took my professional exams to become "Chartered" and have enjoyed a very rewarding and enjoyable career.
How did you decide to work in your chosen field?
Family connections - when I was a teenager I used to help my dad measure and inspect buildings (he is also a Chartered BS) and I enjoyed it so much I decided "I can do that!"
GCSE maths, english and a science plus others, then an HNC in Building, then a BSc(Hons) Building Surveying and then an MSc in Energy Conservation in Buildings (this last one wasn't necessary to become Chartered - I just enjoyed being a student too much!).
What attracted you to the STEM Ambassadors scheme?
For a spell in the 1990's I worked as a university lecturer. Now that I am back in the world of surveying I still wanted to meet with young people to try and inspire them to think about their futures. I was lucky and knew what I wanted when I was their age - but I appreciate that there are hundreds of young people who really don't know what they want to do when they leave school. I visit schools to try and give them ideas as I wish someone had visited my school when I was their age - it would have been very helpful to me and my classmates to be shown what alternatives and opportunities there are in life.
What do you like about being a STEM Ambassador?
I like meeting young people and hearing what they have to say and trying to answer their questions as honestly and realistically as possible.
What do you see as the benefits of the STEM Ambassadors scheme?
The benefits of the scheme are that young people are shown different ideas/career paths/alternative ways of achieving further/higher education and on the job training.
STEM Ambassadors activities
I mainly visit individual schools and talk to groups of students about my work and show them how what they are learning may seem unimportant/irrelevant to them but it really isn't.
I relate science, maths and technology subjects to my work and especially like to show how IT skills are only part of the package - you need knowledge of the fundamentals to make sure you're using sophisticated software packages correctly. I'm a firm believer in avoiding GIGO - Garbage In Garbage Out .
What was the reaction of the young people you worked with?
I have received positive feedback from the teaching staff and students and I have been invited back to every one of the schools I've visited to do more of the same to the next year group of students.
What advice would you give to young people wanting to work in your field?
Look into how your skills and interests match the subjects of a relevant higher education course. Read up on all the places you can go to study for the qualification you need and think about which one appeals to YOU - don't choose a course or place to study just because your mates are going there! It is important to enjoy what you're studying. If you're not enjoying the course you choose you will find it more difficult to motivate yourself. Match what you're interested in to what you want to do as a career.
Life isn't about where you're coming from - its about where the journey is taking you.