Catherine Phillips: Growing in confidence

The ExxonMobil Scholarship and Internship helped Catherine to build up her skills and confidence.

Receiving the ExxonMobil Scholarship and Internship not only helped Catherine Phillips to build up her mechanical engineering skills, it also gave her the confidence boost she needed.

Catherine Phillips is in the final year of her Masters of Mechanical Engineering. As part of her studies, she’s been working with a Technical Management team to build a racing car.

“There are only two girls working on the car out of a team of 30,” she says. “I think that’s quite representative of the whole of Engineering.

“For about a month I didn’t want to touch the car because I was frightened I’d break something, but now I love it,” she says.

As part of the Technical Management team she oversees the build and provides guidance to the rest of the students. It’s a huge commitment, requiring Catherine to put in long hours at the workshop. “I spend around 12 hours a day working on the car, sometimes more,” she says.

Last year Catherine’s hard work and academic results were recognised by ExxonMobil. She was one of only three students from the University to have received a scholarship and three-month internship from the company.

“I know my grades have been good, but I was really surprised when I got the scholarship,” she says. “I was starting to find it difficult to fit everything in, so it came at just the right time. I don’t have to work anymore, which means I can focus on the car full time along with my studies.”

The internship saw Catherine working on an oil rig for a week, sharpening her mechanical engineering skills and boosting her confidence. “Initially I thought that it might be tough, because I was the only girl out there, but everyone was so supportive and helpful. I learnt so much in that week.

“Getting the scholarship and the internship has meant that when I apply for work, I feel more confident. Now I go into interviews thinking that I deserve this. I’ve worked really hard to get to this point.”

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