Thokozile M Tembo, Women's Engineering Society, University of Leeds

Thokozile M Tembo

What inspired you become interested in the field of engineering/computing?

My love for challenges had drawn me to the field of engineering, my preferred discipline  being electrical engineering. This degree program is not just demanding it is also very interesting. It is very practical and quantitative, and deals with the solving of mathematical problems, which I really enjoy. Before I made my decision, I did my research and learned that this course is not just one-dimensional, in studying electrical engineering you gain a range of knowledge that is amazingly broad and versatile. Everything from programming to electronic hardware design, all which I find very interesting.

Why did you choose to study at the University of Leeds?

As an international student, it was always an interest of mine to further my studies abroad, and when the the opportunity to study in the U.K came along, this narrowed down my selection process for my university applications. I received a few offers from other universities; however, the University of Leeds had the highest ranking and was in the top 5 best electrical engineering schools in the country. I was also impressed with the fact that it was a member of the Russell Group, which means it is a prestigious, research-intensive university.

Tell us about your role in the Leeds Student Women’s Engineering Society (WES)? (Committee)

I am currently the communication secretary for the student women’s engineering society. As such, I am responsible for managing social media accounts as well as all other communication. This includes the promoting and design of advertised content as well as constantly posting updates on the operations of the society. In addition to the role specifics, I am also responsible for building a relationship between the society and employers in the industry that have an interest toward recruiting women in engineering.

How do you think your experience with WES Leeds will help you in your degree/career?

My overall experience as part of the WES Leeds committee has given me the skills necessary to work alongside a group of people toward improving the society by means of sharing ideas. In addition, my responsibility as an ambassador to the society on behalf of employers from industry has helped enhance my relationship-building skills. As a result of this, I believe the skills I have obtained are essential and are what employers look for when recruiting.

What does Leeds as a city have to offer to students?

Leeds City Centre offers a variety of fun activities for students, with plenty of museums to visit such as the Royal Armouries and the Leeds art Gallery and Museum. In addition to this, the night life is second to none with a variety of pubs and clubs on offer to students and last but not least, for those interested in day activities there’s a number of sites to visit on the outskirts of the city such as the Yorkshire dales and the West Yorkshire playhouse that hosts great theatre shows and most importantly, it is an affordable place to live for students.

What are your ambitions for the future?

My short term goal is to expand my work experience by hopefully getting the opportunity to do summer internship, thereafter I plan to return to complete my masters in engineering. My long term goal is work as a power electronics engineer, where I’ll have the opportunity to work on high-profile projects alongside a team of experts. I also look forward to becoming a Chartered Engineer.

What other experiences at Leeds do you think will help you in your future career (e.g project work/year in industry etc.)?

Aside from my experience as communications secretary for Leeds WES, I have had a few opportunities to do part-time work during the summer holidays and term time. These opportunities came with diverse experiences, offering me a chance to gain a variety of soft skills essential to my future career. In addition to this, I have acquired a vast range of knowledge and technical skills within my program of study. I have gained these through a number of projects I have worked on during the period of my studies, all of which will be applicable in industry.

What advice would you give to a woman considering a career in engineering/computer science?

It is important for aspiring female engineers to make an informed decision when considering a career in engineering. Therefore, it is important to carry out research, either online or speaking to professionals in the field. In addition to this, they should not allow themselves to be intimidated and discouraged by the gender disparity in the industry, as this doesn’t not dictate their ability to be successful, last but not least it is important to set goals and set one’s mind toward attaining them.