We were visited by Malcolm Peake, Membership Building Officer for the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), to talk to Construction students about student membership, the institution, opportunities to gain professional recognition, opportunities to get scholarships and funds to support students training towards becoming professionally qualified and explain various access to grants.

Malcolm explained the importance for students to get involved with the institution but not just becoming a member and then do nothing with it. He explained that you become a member so that you get access to events going on in Kent and London, which can help you network and improve their contacts within the industry and improve your standing within the industry. Members can take part in competitions and meet employers. At events they can meet real-life graduates of college courses and university courses and they can talk to graduates and find out what employers are really like to work and not just in an interview.

Malcolm added “My role with the institution is currently going into colleges and universities and encouraging student membership. I also go into businesses to talk to graduate members but also older longstanding employees too talking about different levels of membership they can enjoy. These people can be just joining the institution to get recognition or people who want to contribute through the institution back to the industry – some people will come and speak at events, they get involved in graduates and student committee in Kent.

We also have student members who meet five times a year (often involving free food!) to give educational opportunities and we have student members who come back to speak to schools. We have government-based ambassadors and involvement in STEM – these programmes are designed for young people to speak to younger people about opportunities – far better for the 18-21 year olds to chat with the 14-16 year olds than us oldies! It really helps for people starting their career to explain how they are finding it – the younger ones relate better than if an older person described their career. It is important that we get young people to explain their journey and experience. After all we are more likely to listen to someone we can identify with.

Young people are very much likely to take notice of someone who they can relate to – young woman in the industry are great role models to female students looking to take a similar path. Likewise, young male students like a role model a few years ahead of them and already succeeding within the industry they aspire to.”

Malcolm also shared some interesting facts regarding females in the industry: Senior members of the ICE organisation (45-50 years old) – 2% are female. Under the age of 30 – 20-25% are female. Some companies in London have a percentage as high as 50-60% of 25-30 year olds.

We asked one final question of Malcolm - What one piece of advice would you give to anyone developing their career? He replied “Work out what you enjoy and follow that. Don’t be afraid to move to another role if you don’t enjoy it. Have a good work life balance.”