After graduating from University of Manchester in 2009 with a BSc in physics, I was unsure about what to do next.
I hadn’t thought much about applying for jobs while at university, and after graduating felt like I’d left it too late to compete for graduate roles. I decided to continue studying, and embarked upon an MSc in photon science. It was during this year that my interest in optics and photonics developed.
In September 2010 I completed my masters course and began working as a laser production engineer at Laser Quantum, a laser manufacturing company based in Stockport. I was attracted to this role as it sounded exciting and was a very practical application of my studies, and it felt like a company in which I could grow in my career.
I’ve now worked at Laser Quantum for seven years. During the first few, I built up my skillset and was trained to manufacture a range of different lasers, varying in wavelength, power and function. I also had some exposure to the R&D and New Product Introduction departments, helping out to improve products and develop new systems.
There were a range of paths down which my career could have progressed. As a growing company, there have been a number of internal development opportunities. After three years, I was promoted into a product lead position, where I managed small team of engineers on a stage manufacturing platform to meet the required deadlines. This position, along with an external management course, has allowed me to develop my leadership skills and led to my current position of Laser Team manager. I am responsible for a production team of 10–15 engineers who manufacture a range of more than 500 bespoke lasers per year.
Like many areas in physics, the optics and photonics industry has traditionally been a male-dominated environment, but since starting my career I’ve seen more and more women recruited to various roles within the company.
I’d encourage anyone studying physics to apply for roles at a scientific company, where I have found there to be opportunities in many areas of the business, from marketing to R&D. I have found that working for a scientific company that encourages innovation, development and equality and has enabled me to grow in a role that I find enjoyable, challenging and rewarding.