Rebecca Winstanley

ICT Technician, the Royal Air Force

I was never one of those students who knew what career they wanted at an early age. I studied Psychology at university, and though it was a fantastic experience I wasn’t sure it was the future I wanted when I graduated.

However, I’ve always had a natural interest in technology. I volunteered as a STEM Ambassador at university, but it was after graduating that I was lucky enough to take part in an internship with WISE Campaign. This was an amazing introduction to the work that WISE do, and after learning more about the STEM careers that are out there, it was incredibly special to be able to guide the younger generation as they talked about their futures.

After taking a break to travel to Australia, I came back and found myself looking at my own path. I knew I wanted to work in engineering, so I enrolled in a part-time college course to build up my technical confidence while I worked in retail. It was only through a chance conversation in a café when a friend of a friend casually asked me why I hadn’t considered joining the Armed Forces that I started to see it as an option. She was able to dispel the myths and misconceptions I had about Forces life, and later that same year – in 2015 – I was proud to graduate from the Royal Air Force as a Communications Specialist.

It may seem like a strange U-turn to go from doing social sciences at university to a technical apprenticeship, but I’ve never been happier. I now work hands-on with communications equipment that supports operations across the globe, I’m about to commence an IT and Communications degree, and the opportunities to travel the world with work, sport, or adventure training have been incredible.

Because of my background I feel strongly about empowering women and girls with the confidence and awareness to go for the STEM fields that have historically been less encouraged, and dispelling the myths that these jobs are ‘not for them’. In the current technology age we need a powerful STEM workforce now more than ever, and I am very proud to be joining the WISE Young Women’s Board to continue supporting the next generation in discovering just how rewarding a career in STEM can be.

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