Graduate Profiles

Two years on the Graduate Scheme is just the very beginning of your Sellafield Ltd career.

A number of our past graduates have gone on to work in challenging, demanding, influential roles. During the two years you will have developed both the technical and behavioural skills required to move forward in your career, however your future success depends upon the level of commitment you show and your ability to deliver. Here, some of our past and present graduates talk about their experiences.

Present


Adam

Graduate Civil Systems Engineer

Job Title: Graduate Civil Systems Engineer

Current Profession: Seconded to the Innovation Centre Current Status: 2nd Year of Graduate Scheme
Degree Discipline: Civil Engineering University Attended: Josephine Butler College, University of Durham

What is your role on the graduate scheme?

In my 20 months at the company, I have been involved in the Civil Design, System Engineering, Structural Analysis and Construction teams. On top of that, I am currently completing a secondment at the Innovation Centre as an Innovation Manager.

My role as an Innovation Manager is to determine issues that occur across the site and contribute towards company risk. These issues are prioritised and teams created to provide a quick-fire solution to the problem within a 6-week timescale. Previous Innovation Centre projects have provided solutions that could save the company, and the taxpayer, in the order of millions of pounds.

A personal highlight for myself was working with the Civil Design team. I was involved in a site-wide infrastructure project enabling plant expansion works to begin on site. As the construction was so extensive, an infrastructure upgrade project was required. This allowed me to get involved with designing underground cable runs, concrete foundations and gabion retaining walls, along with other items.

Are you involved in any extra-curricular activities?

The graduate scheme at Sellafield Ltd provides you with a huge number of extra-curricular activities to get involved in.

I was a member of the Big Bang Team on two occasions, giving me the chance to lead a team and be an active member of a team. I am currently managing the organisation of a National Nuclear Conference, working alongside various institutes such as the IOP. I was also involved in the GSG (Graduate Support Group), being the deputy-coordinator of the GSG allowed me to manage several projects continuously over the course of the year – these included a huge number of fundraising activities (we raised £7000 in 7 months), various social events and engagement with other graduate schemes, helping to create a graduate community in West Cumbria. My role in the GSG also allowed me to engage with people throughout Sellafield Ltd, developing experience working with a huge number of people and various issues.

These extra-curricular activities played a huge role in developing my confidence and competencies throughout my two years at the company.

How did you find moving to a new area after University?

Moving to Cumbria was easy. The scheme brings together lots of people of the same age, many of which don’t know anyone in the area when you arrive. This means there are lots of people looking to meet new people and make new friends, creating a great atmosphere and providing you with people to go out and enjoy your time with!

The GSG also put on lots of social events that are open to everyone on the scheme, meaning there are constant opportunities to keep meeting new people.

Living in Cumbria can be challenging for some people though, particularly people who are used to bigger towns and cities.

What is the graduate community like at Sellafield?

The graduate community is very friendly and has regular events which are organised through the GSG or the WCSG (West Coast Social Group). There is also a Facebook group for the graduate scheme and people regularly host events and post them on the group, so anyone who is interested is welcome to attend.

What do you think it takes to be successful on the graduate scheme?

Throughout the graduate scheme I have made a conscious effort to try as many different things as I can. This includes opportunities within my day job, such as the various secondments I have been on, to gain experience in different areas across the company. Outside of that though, the graduate scheme will offer you lots of opportunities to get involved with lots of different activities – these allow you to develop new skills and meet new people, as well as try something new.

To be successful on the graduate scheme I believe you need to take advantage of all these opportunities that are offered – just say yes! The opportunity for you to get involved with such a breadth of activities will only be offered once in your career and you get exposed to a huge variety of different scenarios which develop various skills, standing you in good stead going forward.

What initially attracted you to the Sellafield graduate scheme?

I was initially attracted to the graduate scheme through advice from my sister, who had previously completed a Summer Placement at the company. I was always interested in the Nuclear Industry and the challenges that it faced; this combined with the potential for huge extra investment in the Nuclear industry with new power stations and a reduction of fossil fuels made the idea of working in the industry very attractive to me.

I chose Sellafield Ltd specifically because of the unique challenges faced on site; this provides the opportunity to design bespoke solutions through innovation, rather than implementing ‘off-the-shelf’ solutions, allowing me to get involved in providing solutions from scratch. This, combined with the high rating of the Sellafield Graduate Scheme in various publications meant Sellafield Ltd was a very attractive proposition.

If you could give a future graduate some advice, what would it be?

Embrace all the opportunities the Sellafield Ltd graduate scheme offers you. The site is unique and you will be provided with a huge range of development opportunities, from organising international events to designing components to be installed on plant. The development opportunities the graduate schemes with Sellafield Ltd are huge and provide you with great experience at an early stage of your career.


James

Graduate Safety Support

Job Title: Graduate Safety Support

Current Profession: Safety (EHS&Q) Current Status: 1st Year of Graduate Scheme
Degree Discipline: Physics with Astronomy MSci University Attended: University of Nottingham

 

What is your role on the graduate scheme?

I am currently working in Safety Support in the central safety team. One of the great things about being centrally based is the opportunity to gain a broad knowledge of the whole of the site. I have been on plant tours in lots of different facilities, this is providing me with a good overview of the whole of site and how it functions.

I am conducting a range of tasks all across site, incorporating all elements of Safety: Radiological Protection, Conventional Safety and Occupational Hygiene, so the work is really varied. The scale of the Sellafield site and all of the unique work that is going on makes it a very exciting place to work as a Safety professional.

Within the first 6 months of the graduate scheme I have both assisted on and lead internal audits of facilities, concerning safety topics such as radiological protection, asbestos remediation and chemical inventory assurance. I have also contributed to dose assessments and given presentations to various stakeholders on proposed radiological protection improvements. Notably, throughout all my responsibilities there is an emphasis on learning.

Are you involved in any extra-curricular activities?

I am leading the Graduate Recruitment Committee this year. This is providing me with an opportunity to enhance my leadership skills and be involved in the recruitment of next year’s graduates; an important function in developing the talent and skills for the future.

Additionally, I am a STEM Ambassador. I recognise the importance of encouraging younger generations to approach STEM subjects in a passionate way and during my time at Sellafield I have been able to participate in multiple STEM events, including the Big Bang Science Fair at the Birmingham NEC.

How did you find moving to a new area after University?

Initially I was hesitant about the idea of moving to Cumbria; I was not familiar with the area and at the time I was living relatively far away. Sellafield made the transition as smooth as possible, with the provision of a Graduate Buddy (somebody currently on their journey through the Graduate Scheme) to direct any questions towards. Sellafield also provides a monetary relocation allowance for people relocating from over 30 miles away, which went a long way.

What is the graduate community like at Sellafield?

The Sellafield Graduate Community contains over 100 graduates all starting their career at Sellafield. There is an active social calendar which takes advantage of the natural beauty and unique location of Cumbria.

What do you think it takes to be successful on the graduate scheme?

To be a successful graduate, I feel it is important to seize as many opportunities to learn about something new as you can. The organisation is so vast and diverse, there are so many opportunities if you go out and find them.

What initially attracted you to the Sellafield graduate scheme?

I was attracted to Sellafield by the prospect of doing something real, challenging and of direct benefit to the population. The large graduate community was also an appealing factor.

If you could give a future graduate some advice, what would it be?

Don’t simply complete a piece of work; try and expand your knowledge of the task you’re undertaking and why you’re undertaking it by researching the topic and speaking to the relevant people in the organisation.


Joe

Graduate CS&A Engineer

Job Title: Graduate CS&A Engineer

Current Profession: Civil, Structural and Architectural Current Status: 2nd Year of Graduate Scheme
Degree Discipline: MEng (Hons) Civil and Coastal Engineering University Attended: Plymouth University

 

What is your role on the graduate scheme?

The graduate scheme is structured around a number of secondments which grant the opportunity to move round the business and gain experience in various aspects of civil engineering.

So far, my key highlight was going on my construction management placement up to site where I worked on a legacy project before moving onto a new build. It was interesting to put into practice the theoretical aspects I’d been working on down at Risley and during my 4 years at university. I was able to see the different ways in which projects are managed and how we engage with the supply chain.

Are you involved in any extra-curricular activities?

Alongside my day job I am one of the Risley leads for a work experience programme where students in year 10 and 12 come in and undertake a week long project involving 4 engineering disciplines. The purpose is to give the students an understanding of engineering and inform them of the routes for going into STEM careers. I’m currently working on getting the same programme rolled out up at Sellafield site.

How did you find moving to a new area after University?

Having had a job straight from university before coming to Sellafield I was used to moving around, however the information provided by other members of the graduate community was invaluable in settling in. I was able to talk to my buddy before joining about transport and getting to the office so I could plan where to live accordingly. Warrington provides a great base as it’s in such close proximity to Manchester and Liverpool whilst also having great transport links.

What is the graduate community like at Sellafield?

With there being so many graduates there is a big community which means there always something going on, from simply meeting up at lunch time to organised events. Recently there have been events organised to go out in Manchester, dog racing and the break out rooms.

What do you think it takes to be successful on the graduate scheme?

To be successful on the graduate scheme you need to be keen to get involved whilst having a pragmatic attitude to overcoming problems.

What initially attracted you to the Sellafield graduate scheme?

I was attracted to the Sellafield Graduate scheme because of the opportunity to work on such a challenging site with some of biggest legacy projects. I knew this would involve a lot of problem solving on a diverse range of jobs which would provide a lot of different experiences during and after the scheme.

If you could give a future graduate some advice, what would it be?

Ask questions and don’t be afraid to challenge by speaking up.


Charlotte

Graduate System Engineer

Job Title: Graduate System Engineer

Current Profession: Plant (System) Engineering Current Status: 1st Year of Graduate Scheme
Degree Discipline: Chemical & Nuclear Engineering University Attended: University of Leeds

 

What is your role on the graduate scheme?

My first placement with Sellafield Ltd was within a department called the Innovation Centre, where a small team with a budget is tasked with designing and building a prototype to help overcome a challenge on a plant within 6 weeks.

In my current role as a system engineer I am responsible for looking after a system on plant. This can involve walking around the plant looking for any new or on-going issues, reviewing maintenance, producing modification proposals for some of the equipment and reviewing the overall ‘health’ of my system. I love the role I’m in because it enables me to get up and have a look at the plant I work on and learn how it all works without having to sit behind a desk all day.

Are you involved in any extra-curricular activities?

I am a member of the Recruitment Subcommittee for the Graduate Council so I am involved in targeting universities and encouraging the next intake of graduates to apply to the graduate scheme and choose Sellafield as their employer. I have also helped organise other graduate events such as the 2017 Graduate Nuclear Conference, the welcome day and the induction week for 2017 intake graduates.

As well as these I have worked as a STEM ambassador in primary schools in the local area – this has involved running and assisting in activities to try and inspire children and teenagers to enjoy and continue studying STEM subjects.

What is the graduate community like at Sellafield?

The graduate community is really active – there’s usually a social at least once a month within the Sellafield community, whether its walking, go-karting or going to the pub or for a meal. Whenever someone organises anything like going for a drink or to the cinema, it’s usually opened up to the rest of the graduate community so there is usually something to get involved in.

What do you think it takes to be successful on the graduate scheme?

You need to balance work and extra-curricular activities – getting involved in graduate activities such as STEM is really important for personal development, and really useful to the schools you support, but you also need to do your day job! In your job it’s also important to make notes of what you’re doing and how you are contributing to different projects and pieces of work – this will come in really useful when you’re thinking about going for chartership, and during your appraisals (reviews) during your graduate scheme.

What initially attracted you to the Sellafield graduate scheme?

The main attraction for me was working within the Nuclear Industry – I’d been interested in nuclear physics since my A-Levels and doing Chemical and Nuclear Engineering at university made that interest even stronger. Sellafield itself has some really interesting work going on with some challenges unlike any other company within the UK or even in the world and it’s really exciting to get to work on projects and plants that help to overcome these challenges.

The area was also a draw for me. I enjoy the countryside, the North West is close enough to most of my family that I can easily visit them, and the cost of living and housing in West Cumbria is so cheap compared to other parts of the UK.

If you could give a future graduate some advice, what would it be?

Don’t try and do everything – I balance my day job and my other work quite well but I’ve seen other graduates that have taken on too much extra work and struggle to get everything done on time.


Mahmuda

Graduate Commercial Specialist

Job Title: Graduate Commercial Specialist

Current Profession: Commercial Current Status: 1st Year of Graduate Scheme
Degree Discipline: Law University Attended: Northumbria University

 

What is your role on the graduate scheme?

I am currently in my second secondment at Sellafield Ltd. My first secondment allowed me to be part of two major projects on site and understand Sellafields Commercial procurement process and procedures. I have also had the opportunity to be part of two tender processes and gain a broad knowledge of commercial award contracts.

My current placement is adding value to my commercial understanding. I work closely with a small team who have multiple contracts with different contractors. I assist Sellafield and help the team resolve any issues that arise whilst the work is taking place.

Are you involved in any extra-curricular activities?

I have been involved in a number of STEM events since starting with Sellafield Ltd. I took part in the Big Bang Fair, helping local primary school children prepare for the FIRST LEGO event. I am also part of the Graduate Councils recruitment subcommittee and work closely with the resourcing social media team. In addition, I also have been involved in organising the 2017 Graduate Nuclear Conference and the Graduate Welcome Day for the 2018 intake.

What is the graduate community like at Sellafield?

There is a close knit graduate family in Cumbria, so there is always something going on. Whether that is a walk at the Lake District, trip to bowling, out for some food and drink or down to the local cinemas, there is always something to be part of.

What do you think it takes to be successful on the graduate scheme?

Getting involved and working hard will always result in success. There are so many opportunities to develop as part of your day job. Get stuck in, take on responsibilities, ask questions and seek advice and help if you need it. I have been getting involved in a lot of extra side tasks which has been challenging but rewarding. These opportunities have allowed me to build a network of individuals and learn even more about Commercial and Sellafield Ltd.  I believe that to be successful on the graduate scheme you need to seize as many different opportunities as you can but always stay focused on your day to day work.

What initially attracted you to the Sellafield graduate scheme?

As a Law graduate, I decided I did not want to go down the traditional legal route and wanted to work in Industry as it has so much more to offer. Throughout my time at Sellafield I have experienced a range of challenges, rules, regulations and procedures which has really helped broadened my overall knowledge of the Commercial profession.

If you could give a future graduate some advice, what would it be?

I live by the saying – “What you put in, is what you get out”

Work hard, be willing to learn, get involved and enjoy your time at work!


Daniel

CS&A Graduate Engineer

Job title: CS&A Graduate Engineer

Current Profession: CS&A (Civil, Structural and Architectural) Current Status: 1st Year of Graduate Scheme
Degree Discipline: Civil and Structural Engineering University Attended: University of Leeds

 

What is your role on the graduate scheme?

I have done two placements so far; one working for the Infrastructure Strategic Alliance [ISA] (a joint venture between Sellafield LTD, Arup and Morgan Sindall responsible for improving the infrastructure on site) and another for the analysis section (doing Finite Element Analysis of structures).

For the ISA placement I went on many trips to Sellafield site and got to be involved with many different areas of the site. One of the highlights of that placement was doing a substantiation (checking the capacities of the structure) for a booth on site which only had one drawing (which was a 3D drawing) that involved a few trips to site to get dimensions and to get the confidence of the checker of the calculation I produced.

For the analysis section I developed my skills in using Ansys and Mathcad in particular using text commands to build and run analyses in Ansys. A highlight of that placement was doing an analysis of an underground culvert junction and testing it to see what maximum wheel load could be applied to the structure.

Both placements have been quite contrasting as the ISA placement was focused on small jobs and mainly involved checking drawings and designing structures for constructability which I hadn’t done much at university where as the Analysis section is focused on building models of complex structures and checking the capacities of the members.

Whilst doing this there is also events to do for the graduate scheme such as attending a week long training session at the start of the scheme around progressing from university to the workplace, attending courses on an overview of the Nuclear industry as well as many other sessions and tasks.

I am currently set to do a placement in the Geotechnics section then I move onto a design placement and then I finish off my graduate scheme with a construction placement on Sellafield site.

In September I am going to present a paper to the International Conference on Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering in Seoul, South Korea which I am really looking forward to.

Are you involved in any extra-curricular activities?

I have been involved in the following:

Local college – I have been involved with teaching evening only students the design of beams and columns to the Eurocodes using Reinforced Concrete and steel

Community Challenge – Capability organised for people to go down to a local community centre and do a variety of improvement works (gardening, painting, building chicken coops).

Work Experience – I have led a session teaching students about Civil Engineering and doing tasks with them such as designing a beam and building a bridge

STEM Events – I have been to Warrington UTC and also a STEM day for local schools doing a seismic workshop where we got the students to build a structure out of marshmallows and spaghetti and test the structure on a shaking table

ICE Lectures – I regularly attend ICE/ISTRUCTE lectures around the area with other CS&A grads.

What is the graduate community like at Sellafield?

The graduate community is really social, we regularly meet up for lunchtimes and frequently arrange social events together.

What do you think it takes to be successful on the graduate scheme?

Ask questions – as well as developing your knowledge it helps your line managers to know that you are trying to understand what you are doing.

Build working relationships – It can significantly aid your work (by them showing you examples or books) if you build relationships with your colleagues and associates.

Communicate well – Make sure to keep the people you are doing work for informed about the progress of it. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and ring someone if they don’t respond to emails.

What initially attracted you to the Sellafield graduate scheme?

I went onto the graduate scheme after completing a 10 week summer placement between my 3rd and 4th years at university. I found Sellafield to be a very welcoming organisation where people were prepared to help and found the benefits to be very competitive.

If you could give a future graduate some advice, what would it be?

Be social to the people around you – Developing and building working relationships with fellow graduates and colleagues can help you to enjoy working at Sellafield as well as helping you get jobs done.


Jamie

Graduate Process Design Engineer

Job Title: Graduate Process Design Engineer

Current Profession: Process Design Engineering Current Status: 1st Year of Graduate Scheme
Degree Discipline: Chemical and Nuclear Engineering University Attended: University of Leeds

 

What is your role on the graduate scheme?

I’m currently in my second six-month secondment as part of the Sellafield Ltd Graduate Scheme, having previously worked in Thorp design engineering in a year-long industrial placement. The secondment structure of the design engineering profession allows me to experience a breadth of engineering that helps fill Chartership requirements and make useful contacts throughout the company.

For me, a highlight of working at Sellafield Ltd. is the culture. I truly feel supported by the company and the engineering community, and that my development as an engineer is of a high priority.

Are you involved in any extra-curricular activities?

I’m a member of the Nuclear Institute North West branch and a member of the YGN (Young Generation Nuclear). Being an active member of the NI has introduced me to a lot of people from different companies, helping to build the network that will be really useful in my career.

I am also a member of the GSG university liaison sub-committee, helping the resourcing department find graduates to attend graduate fairs and give talks at different universities.

How did you find moving to a new area after University?

I currently live in the centre of Manchester and commute to Risley to go to work. Moving to Manchester was really straightforward, Sellafield assigned me a ‘grad buddy’ who answered any questions I had about the area and advised me about the best places to live.

For Risley, being where it is, there are a lot of options where people can live. For cities, commuting from either Liverpool or Manchester is quite easy and there are also plenty of smaller towns which are commutable.

What is the graduate community like at Sellafield?

There are lots of social events that the graduate council  put on, ranging from meals/nights out to walks in the countryside. For people new to the area, like me, it’s really beneficial to have a strong group of friends from the start.

What do you think it takes to be successful on the graduate scheme?

Although you’re given plenty of opportunities to develop as part of your day job, I’ve found that the extra side tasks and challenges offer the most benefit. I think that being successful on the graduate scheme involves recognising when there’s the potential to get involved with things outside of your day job. It allows you to meet new people and experience a different side to the business.

What initially attracted you to the Sellafield graduate scheme?

As I did a nuclear-specific course at university, I really wanted to be involved with the plants and processes I’d been learning about for the past four years! The challenge, from a technical and engineering perspective, is very interesting and completely unique to Sellafield. This means that there is more scope to develop your own creative solutions and methods compared to industries where there may be more of an ‘industry standard’ approach to problems.

If you could give a future graduate some advice, what would it be?

Talk to as many people as you can. There is a huge breadth of experience and knowledge at Sellafield Ltd. and people are more than willing to give you advice, all you have to do is ask.


Ryan

Graduate Process Design Engineer

Job Title: Graduate Process Design Engineer

Current Profession: Current Status: 1st Year of Graduate Scheme
Degree Discipline: Chemical & Nuclear Engineering University Attended: University of Leeds

 

What is your role on the graduate scheme?

In my current secondment I am working within the Plant Facing Design Office (PFDO) for Spent Fuel Management. Simply put, when something on a plant needs replacing or fixing in a short time frame the PFDO are instrumental in providing a design solution. The work is really interesting because you have to provide a safe design to overcome a challenge as quickly as possible whilst also considering cost, the time to implement the design and all relevant regulations in place to protect people and the environment.

Are you involved in any extra-curricular activities?

During my first year on the graduate scheme I have become a STEM ambassador for Sellafield Ltd. This has given me the opportunity to engage with local students, schools and colleges to promote careers with Sellafield Ltd and in other STEM fields. I also sit on the Graduate Council’s ‘recruitment sub-committee’ as a member of the University liaison team. As a member of this committee I help promote Sellafield Ltd graduate and placement schemes by coordinating careers fairs, presentations and communicating with University employability departments.

How did you find moving to a new area after University?

Our Risley offices are in easy commuting distance from Manchester. This allows me to spend time living in both the Lake District and also a busy city centre – which has been ideal for me.

What is the graduate community like at Sellafield?

Particularly up at site, the graduate community is very active. There are regular socials that range from walks in the Lake District to skiing trips. Down at Risley, many of our social events take place in Manchester where we often go to restaurants and bars as a group.

What do you think it takes to be successful on the graduate scheme?

More than anything, I’d say a willingness to learn and be challenged.

Sellafield is arguably the most complex nuclear site on the planet, and to be able to understand how site works and the challenges we face you have to be willing to learn. Everyone I have met whilst working here has been only too happy to help with my development and we also attend a large number of: talks, presentations, tours of facilities and courses to increase our knowledge. So as long as you want to learn, there are plenty of opportunities.

Whilst on the graduate scheme there are many opportunities available outside of your ‘day job’, but you have to be proactive and volunteer for them. These opportunities include: being a STEM ambassador, sitting on the Graduate Council, being the secretary for high profile working groups, leading talks and presentations to the graduate (and wider) community and representing the company at careers fairs.

What initially attracted you to the Sellafield graduate scheme?

I have been interested in the nuclear industry since I was at school and after studying chemical and nuclear engineering at University, I knew I wanted a career in the nuclear industry. I did a year placement with Sellafield Ltd between my 3rd and 4th years of University. I found that graduates and placement students are challenged from the first day with real work and real responsibility. I found the ability to actively contribute to a mission of national importance and overcome unique problems very rewarding.

Sellafield Ltd. also excels at giving graduate engineers the support they need to get chartered and develop. Since starting on the graduate scheme, I have been allocated a mentor who meets with me monthly to help me to identify strengths and weaknesses against the Chartership requirements of the IChemE. I have found this invaluable. This coupled with: the challenging work, the opportunity to gain experience working on plant and the great company culture, made coming back to Sellafield Ltd an easy decision.

If you could give a future graduate some advice, what would it be?

Take the opportunities offered to you, be willing to take on responsibility, take advantage of the support available to help you get chartered and get involved with the graduate community through socials and the Graduate Council.


Adam

Graduate Environmental Advisor

Job Title: Graduate Environmental Advisor

Current Profession: Decommissioning Current Status: 1st Year of Graduate Scheme
Degree Discipline: Marine and Freshwater Science Universities Attended: University of Hull/ Heriot-Watt University/University of Aberdeen

 

What is your role on the graduate scheme?

I am currently a member of the environmental team which supports the decommissioning of one of the Legacy Facilities on the Sellafield site. My role involves compiling weekly and monthly reports on environmental performance which are submitted to the Environment Agency, undertaking environmental audits, and assessing the environmental impact of modifications which take place on plant.

Are you involved in any extra-curricular activities?

I have been involved in a number of STEM events since starting with Sellafield Ltd. These have included: helping local primary school children prepare for the FIRST LEGO League (a global science and technology competition which has over 250000 young people taking part each year), judging an invention competition, and assisting a local secondary school with mock interviews for their World of Work (WoW) day. I am also currently a member of the organising committee for the 2017 graduate nuclear conference and the recruitment sub-committee.

How did you find moving to a new area after University?

Before starting the Graduate Scheme in Cumbria I was based up in Oban on the West Coast of Scotland for a number of years, so moving down to Cumbria wasn’t too much of a shock to the system! The area is nice and you get to live right next to the Lake District, which is a nice bonus.

What is the graduate community like at Sellafield?

There is a thriving graduate community at Sellafield, both at Risley and in Cumbria, with nights out, outdoor activities, and tours of local attractions often planned.

What do you think it takes to be successful on the graduate scheme?

I have only been on the scheme for less than a year, but in my opinion, to be successful, you simply need to be willing to learn, to work hard, and to get involved. This applies to your ‘day job’ in your home department and extracurricular activities, such as supporting the many different tasks which keep the graduate scheme functioning effectively.

What initially attracted you to the Sellafield graduate scheme?

I was initially attracted to the graduate scheme for a number of reasons. These were:

  • The training and development opportunities on offer.
  • The complexity of the overall mission that Sellafield Ltd. faces (and the challenge that roles within Sellafield Ltd. present due to the complexity of the mission).
  • The benefits package.
  • The location (I love mountaineering so the Lake District is a nice place to live next to!).

If you could give a future graduate some advice, what would it be?

Maintain a balance. You will get lots of opportunities to get involved, but it is important that you work hard at your ‘day job’ and also get involved in graduate scheme tasks. Don’t just do one and neglect the other!


Past

Steven

Site Operations Co-ordinator

Job title: Site Operations Co-ordinator

What degree/postgraduate course did you study and where?

MEng (Hons) Electrical & Electronic Engineering (SW) – Sheffield Hallam University

How did you get your current job – what were the steps you took from graduation?

Prior to graduation I undertook an industrial placement where I gained exposure to the nuclear industry and solid work experience which, in my opinion benefitted me no end during my Assessment Centre interviews for Sellafield Ltd. I applied for the Sellafield Ltd. Graduate Scheme in December 2014, following aptitude tests, a video Interview and a successful assessment Centre I started the scheme in September 2015.

How relevant was your subject of study in securing your current job?

My subject of study was broadly relevant to my current job; whilst not many of my areas of university study are not specifically applicable in my current position, the problem solving skills, broad Electrical & Electronic Engineering knowledge as well as an understanding of Project Management and Business Process Management I acquired whilst at university have proved very beneficial.

Describe a typical working day in your current job:

I am currently seconded to Outage Management & Site Integration as a Site Operations Co-ordinator. Whilst this role is vastly different from my base department role and is ‘hands-off’ engineering-wise it has provided me with a great understanding of how the Sellafield Site works; how different plants interact with each other, top level decision making and a general oversight of the business. This is part of what makes the Graduate Scheme so valuable in my opinion; you can end up in a role which ordinarily you would not think of which ends up providing dividends for your career and development.

As a Site Operations Co-ordinator my role includes the facilitation of the daily Fleetcall; this provides line of sight and the distribution of information between the company’s executive, directors and operating units. This is to ensure that our stakeholders, specifically the workforce and our communities, understand and support what we do and how we do it. I am also involved in various STEM activities which are often part of my working week.

How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions?

I started out in my base department – Infrastructure, Utilities, Commissioning in September. During my 6 months I developed a strategy for the site’s Mobile Diesel Alternator Fleet, went on a trip to Ireland to Customer Acceptance Test (CAT) Electrical distribution boards as well as many other tasks including the commissioning of protection relays on the site’s electrical distribution network.

My current position has me looking more at the business operations and production side of the company; This has vastly increased my competence in such tasks such as visual management, value stream mapping, facilitation and general soft skills.

Regarding my career ambitions, due to the variety of opportunity available at Sellafield Ltd. I am currently holding off making that decision, that being said, I have found my time in the Operations Division to be very rewarding therefore at this stage I would be looking for a future in Operations Management. I also hope to become a fully competent Chartered Engineer within the next 4 years.

What do you enjoy about your job?

I most enjoy the variety of the work I am involved with as well as the ability to take on responsibility beyond what is required of me.

What are the most challenging parts of your job?

I find the management of my time the most challenging; Sellafield allows you to get involved in STEM activities such as the Big Bang Fair, Graduate Committees and various other activities/projects, meaning that it is sometimes difficult to ‘juggle’ my time between each of these as well as my core work.

What are the best things about working in this sector?

I believe the Nuclear industry is still in its infancy and as such there is much more development to be done and novel solutions to be discovered when compared to other industries. The complexities of the Nuclear Industry lead to an atmosphere of challenge and change, there is no chance of stagnation in the near future.

Finally, what advice would you have for other students and graduates who would like to get into this career?

Acknowledge the fact that ‘comfort zones’ do not exist, push yourself and take on as much responsibility as you can. In my experience, I found an industrial placement year to be a real eye opener and an impetus to pursue a career in the Nuclear Industry; it is without doubt that the experienced I gained during this year lead me to secure a position at Sellafield Ltd.


Jasdeep

Chemical Engineer

Job title: Chemical Engineer

Q. Were you always interested in pursuing an engineering career?

A. Always. It’s something that runs through my family; they’re really interested in science and maths so it’s definitely something I’ve had instilled in me from an early age and found genuinely interesting and engaging. There are a lot of doctors in my family but I’m the first engineer!

Q. So how did you progress your passion for engineering after your left school?

A. Once I’d realised my passion for engineering I decided to study Chemical Engineering at the Imperial College of London, which was a really good experience for me. I not only gained key engineering skills and behavioural competencies, but also, because I’m from a small town on the outskirts of London it really helped open my mind and broaden my horizons to what engineering opportunities were available else where in the country.

Q. Do you believe there is a gender gap in the industry?

A. I think it definitely is still a male dominated industry but that doesn’t mean there isn’t more than enough space for women and I think it’s a shame if girls are put off a career in engineering because they think it’s a profession for boys.

Girls are often pushed towards other subjects but I don’t think there should be a stigma attached to women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM). If there’s something you’re good at or interested in then you should be motivated to do well in those areas at school and potentially pursue a career in STEM.

Q. Can the industry do more to inspire girls to become interested in STEM roles?

A. Girls from a young age need to understand where their future could potentially lie, so they need to see that there are all these different kind of jobs in science and engineering. I think Sellafield Ltd can play a big part in that because there are so many different engineering roles available in the company, regardless of gender, so we need to illustrate the range of roles they could potentially explore as a career in the future.

Q. How do you play your part in inspiring young girls to become engineers?

A. I’m a STEM ambassador with the company, so I go into schools and educational events and chat to children in the hopes of inspiring them to enjoy STEM subjects and consider a career in them.

Recently I attended the Big Bang Fair in Birmingham. It was really fantastic to see all the kids so enthusiastic about learning and looking at different options and discovering what careers are out there.

We had a lot of females on the stand too which was good for younger girls to see and be inspired by.

Q. What would your advice be for girls who are interested in a career in STEM?

A. There are many things you can do. Firstly research; watching videos online is really great way to understand what’s required for the career you’re interested in. Make sure you explore as many STEM subjects at school to get a taste of a vast range of careers, and try to do as many placements and work experience as possible.

There are so many opportunities available out there, especially at Sellafield Ltd, so I’d definitely encourage girls to follow their passion whether it is in engineering or science, and succeed and help the skilled industries thrive.


Richard

Process Design, SPRS Retreatment

Job title: Process Design, SPRS Retreatment

Intake year: 2014

Degree/University: MEng Chemical with Environmental Engineering University of Nottingham

My role: I’m based in System Engineering in Magnox Reprocessing, where I have a number of responsibilities – producing evidence for, and presenting to, the Office of Nuclear Regulation (ONR), assessing plant maintenance requirements as well as solving plant issues.

I’ve gained brilliant experience of how Sellafield’s plants operate and interact, and the relationship with ONR, and how we manage and maintain our assets. My experiences have been challenging and varied, so much so I extended my initial time in the department to 10 months.

I have recently started my second secondment within the Product & Residues Store retreatment project, in the process design team. Here, I’ll be responsible for producing flow sheets, hydrogen management strategies, and, further down the line, specifying equipment requirements. I’m also the secretary for the monthly Executive Major Projects review. I’m responsible for recording and distributing actions and it’s given me a great understanding of how the business operates at a higher level, as well as being a great networking opportunity.

Extra-Curricular: I’m the 2014/15 Graduate Support Group co-ordinator responsible for organising our various sub-committees as well as social and outdoor activities. I was also a member of the Graduate Nuclear Conference committee. The event was great – 200 people attended, and we had a variety of speakers including the Department of Energy and Climate Change and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, Horizon Nuclear and Sellafield Ltd.

One of my proudest moments was leading a team to organise a week of STEM work for 60 students at short notice. The event was external, so the reputation of Sellafield Ltd was on the line if we didn’t succeed. This fast-paced, high-stakes work gave me invaluable team management experience.

Advice for future graduates: Don’t be afraid of taking on responsibility. Put your hand up for work that will make you feel uncomfortable and take on a challenge. It’s the best way to learn.


Megan

Thorp Technical Support

Job title: Thorp Technical Support

Intake year: 2013

Degree/University: MChem (Hons) in Chemistry with Industrial Experience from Durham University

My role: Thorp technical support provide direct plant support to the Thorp reprocessing plant, including routine monitoring of operating trends and coordinating the transfer of highly active liquor to HALES (Highly Active Liquor Evaporation and Storage plant).

We also carry out specialist technical investigations whenever problems occur on plant to determine the root cause of a problem and whether any modifications need to be made to plant processes. With Thorp reaching the end of its operational life in the next few years, we are also helping to develop strategies going forward and optimisation work to maximise the lifetime of plant equipment.

I’m involved with TOS (Thorp Operational Services) technical support, which deals with reagent streams into Thorp and effluent streams out of Thorp. A large part of this job is coordinating cell inspections, which involves liaising with the National Nuclear Laboratory and plant employees to ensure the periodic vessel and cell inspections and any specific inspections requested by plant owners are carried out on time, to budget and to the agreed scope.

After the inspections are completed, it is important that any observations from the inspections are acted upon, which is another role carried out by my team.

Advice for future graduates: Work hard and take all the opportunities you can. You get out of the scheme what you put into it – so it’s worth the effort.


Rob

Graduate CS&A Engineer, FGMSP Export Project

Job title: Graduate CS&A Engineer, FGMSP Export Project

Intake year: 2013

Degree/University: MEng Civil and Architectural Engineering, University of Bath

My role: I am a sub-project manager for the delivery of a pipe bridge and other minor civil works on the First Generation Magnox Storage Pond Export Facility. I’m responsible for composing plant modification proposals, checking the design, liaising with stakeholders including nuclear and environmental safety experts and working with the planning team to programme the works using the integrated work management (IWM) process.

This role has enabled me to gain a good understanding of the challenges that come with working on legacy facilities and the processes which are used at Sellafield Ltd in order to control risk and maintain both nuclear and conventional safety.

During this secondment I have also become involved in the Big Bang project which promotes the study of Science and Technology subjects to young people. I attended the Big Bang national fair in Birmingham where the team manned a large activity stand.

I was also part of the organising team for the Graduate Nuclear Conference which was attended by 190 delegates and heard from a range of influential speakers including Dame Sue Ion.

Finally, I’ve also acted as project lead for the Cumbria Aspires work placement programme which enables A-level students to gain experience of careers in Science and Industry in their local area.

Advice for future graduates: Get involved with everything you can possibly make time for.