Chloe Copland

I’m Chloe and I’m a Water Technical Estimator. I completed a BSc in Physics at Newcastle University and then went into quantity surveying/estimating in the water industry. I chose this career path as I enjoyed the numerical and problem-solving aspects of physics but wanted to use these skills in a more practical way.

My advice to any young women starting their careers in STEM would be that a lot of the skills learned in a STEM degree are transferable. You may embark on a career path that doesn’t seem STEM heavy but the skills you have gained, such as problem solving and report writing, are invaluable in most fields.

I got into estimating by doing a placement year after I left university. I was uncertain of what exactly I wanted to go into after doing my degree but I knew I didn’t want to stay at University and complete a Masters. After doing some research I found a quantity surveying placement that would allow me to do a year in this field to determine if it was something I would enjoy. After completing the placement, I knew that I enjoyed the numerical aspects of this role but would like to gain more technical knowledge. This then led me to my current role as a Water Technical Estimator. This allows me to work with numbers allows me to be constantly learning and developing my understanding of the area.

In my current role I work on creating quotes for clients to develop and improve water treatment and purification systems. A specific project I worked on was quoting the costs for various remedial works spanning across multiple sites for a large and well renowned company. 

I am proud of achieving my BSc in Physics as this is something I really struggled with. University was not what I expected it to be like and having really enjoyed Physics at school, I found that doing it at a university level was not something I enjoyed or found easy anymore. I found that I enjoyed the Maths based modules and found them to be a lot more interesting and useful than other modules. I persevered and completed my degree which has helped me to discover what I enjoy most and develop into my current role and career that I love.

My current role, although every day is different, often involves creating quotes for clients to improve and develop water treatment and purification systems. This can range from taking samples in the field for analysis to ensure there is no harmful bacteria in their water to estimating costs and materials for replacing cooling towers. I use risk assessments and lab reports to determine what is best suited and appropriate for a project and if this is compliant with regulations on-site. I use my own analysis of available data to estimate costs for clients.

My favourite part of my role is quoting from Risk Assessments as this involves searching though documents and schematics to find as much information as possible to add to the quotes.

I’ve not necessarily experienced any setbacks in my career but at university when I failed one of my final year exams. This was awful because I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to graduate. I had to overcome this and persevere with the rest of my modules to ensure that I passed everything else. When I look back on this experience, it shows me that when I really set my mind to something and persevere I can accomplish anything that seems impossible at first.

The main role models for me were my high school teachers. I was always good at science and maths subjects so it seemed like a natural progression for me to study this at university and pursue a career within STEM. A lot of my high school science teachers were women so I never felt like being a woman in STEM was unusual. I think this prepared me for university where there was only a handful of women. I think having real-life role models through high school helped me to feel included and supported in my field.

In my free time I enjoy walking and reading. These help me to unwind after a long day and feel fresh for a new day.

Personally, I have felt more imposter syndrome from feeling like I had to try harder than my peers to achieve good grades. For a long time exams seemed easy to me in school and when this changed in university I started to feel like I maybe didn’t deserve my place because I wasn’t doing as well as my friends. I overcame this by studying with other people who were struggling. This made me realise that I was not the only one that had to work extra hard and that just because I wasn’t breezing through didn’t mean I deserved to be there any less.

To me, being a woman in STEM means being a part of a community that is helping to combat the stigma of gender stereotypes within all industries. It’s about letting people know that no job is a ‘man’s’ or ‘woman’s’ job and anyone can do what they enjoy.

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