Describe a typical day as a Nuclear Graduate?
I realise this is a bit of a cliché, but there is no such thing as a ‘typical day’ whilst on the Nuclear Graduates scheme! Between the ‘day job’ as an electronics engineer, developing and selling my SME product, attending Nuclear Graduates training and planning/attending conferences as far afield as Texas and Brussels, we have enough variety in our day-to-day working lives to keep us engaged and ensure no two days are the same. The work, although rewarding, can also be challenging so it is important to have some time to relax and recharge ready for the next one, which is supported by use of the flexi-time system employed at all the offices I have worked at.
How has the training provided by Nuclear Graduates helped with your professional development?
The Nuclear Graduates core training tends to focus around the soft (well, softer anyway) skills required to be a nuclear industry professional, such as leadership and business awareness. These are generally skills/behaviours not taught much at University level and are therefore invaluable to a recent graduate, not necessarily because they will change how you act overnight, but they will make you more self-aware in how you present yourself and interact with others. We are all continuously adapting and changing according to our environment, these training zones help give a push in the right direction.
I have spent my CPD budget primarily on training complementary to the core training, focussing around technical competencies such as radiation hardening of electronics and developing my public speaking skills. The latter I have particularly noticed the benefits of, since speaking to large groups of people is intimidating to many of us yet is required a surprising amount of times in day-to-day work, from the innocuous such as introducing yourself at large meetings to more formal instances like giving a presentation on your latest project.
What is your magic moment during your time on the Nuclear Graduates programme?
One of the more rewarding moments for myself and my SME team was taking delivery of our product, a children’s book about STEM, after almost a year in development. To be able to hold in my hands a book which my colleagues and I had spent so much time producing was a moment of pride for the whole team.
On a personal level I was given the opportunity to go on board several submarines during my time at Barrow and during a site visit to Devonport dockyard. These visits allowed me to vindicate my time spent learning about the various different systems on board, as this allowed me to keep up with the experienced submariners taking me round, as well as bringing home the scale and importance of the task being carried out by the sector.
What advice would you give a future Nuclear Graduate?
To get involved with as much as possible! You will have the opportunity to attend a myriad of different conferences, training events, technical tours and lectures that you will not have access to when you start working full-time, this is a chance to broaden your horizons and establish yourself within a relatively small community. Make it count (just watch your budgets carefully!)