Graduate profile
Ruth Carlson

Ruth Carlson

"I was part of the Surrey ICE Scholarship scheme. This meant that at the time of joining Mott MacDonald as a graduate civil engineer, I’d already had 16 months of experience there. Without that scheme and the links Surrey has with industry, I don’t think I’d be sitting in this job today!"

Graduation year
2020

Choosing Surrey

Originally, I only applied to Surrey because I had to put five universities down on my UCAS application! But, having visited for an applicant day, it soon became the one I wanted to attend.

I remember feeling comfortable as soon as I got there. It felt right. The staff were friendly and enthusiastic, and the campus was nice. I remember going home and knowing that’s where I wanted to go.  

The Surrey ICE Scholarship was the cherry on top for me. Knowing the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering had such great links with industry meant a lot. I wanted work experience and a strong chance of getting a good job when I graduated.

My course

I wanted a way to practically solve some of the issues we were learning about, such as climate change, disparities in wealth and poverty, flooding, etc. Being the first in my family to attend university, it was important I obtained a job from my studies, so this led me to civil engineering.

I enjoyed the group aspects of the course. In our first year, we went on a geology trip to Dartmoor, which brought us all together as a cohort. I also really enjoyed the variety of modules on offer. This meant I didn’t have to pigeonhole myself.

Masters year

My favourite year by far was my masters year. You pick the modules that interest you the most and it was exciting to be learning niche topics, often in lecturers’ research areas.  

Life at Surrey

I got involved in a lot of clubs and societies. Women’s football was my first club. I became its president in my second year. I also represented Team Surrey as part of the women’s cricket team, and I joined the weightlifting club in my fourth year.

Away from the sports side of things, I was heavily involved in student politics, which formed a large part of my friendship and support groups at the University. I ended up representing students on a national level as a board member for the Office for Students, and I also worked with UCAS and the QAA and sat on their student advisory panels.

I met a lot of people, travelled to a lot of places in the UK I’d never been to and I got to share my voice to often wide-reaching audiences.

All these opportunities came from Surrey. It’s been rather incredible when I look back. I learnt a whole lot personally, academically and professionally. I pushed myself physically in sport, worked hard in my studies, met lots of different people, grew in confidence and started to believe in myself.

Life after Surrey

I’m now a graduate civil engineer working in the Foundations and Geotechnics team at Mott MacDonald. At the moment, I’m working on HS2, making sure the ground movements aren’t so great that surrounding buildings, roads and utilities fail due to the construction works! I’m enjoying it so far. No two jobs are the same and you’re always learning.

I was part of the Surrey ICE Scholarship scheme. This meant that at the time of joining Mott MacDonald as a graduate, I’d already had 16 months of experience there. I had such a great time on my placements – one of them was even in Melbourne!

Without that scheme and the links Surrey has with the industry, I don’t think I’d be sitting in this job today!

Find out more about studying in our Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

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