Current Graduates

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

A number of our graduates have gone on to work in challenging, demanding, influential roles. During the two years you’re with us you will develop 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, meet some of our current graduates who talk about their experiences on our programme.

Graduate Programme - Cohort: 2018 - 2020


Flora Smith

Plant Engineering

Profession: Plant Engineering

Degree Discipline: Aerospace Engineering

University Attended: University of Bristol

Job Title: Graduate Mechanical Engineer

What is your role on the graduate programme?

The Plant Engineering scheme involves a number of placements over the two years to give graduates exposure to different areas of the business. One of the highlights so far has been working with the underwater Remotely Operated Vehicle innovation team. It was the first time I was able to apply the theory I had learned at university, and it has been really exciting to see equipment I was involved in procuring making a real difference on plant. I am currently in a system engineering placement; a typical day for me involves investigating any issues on my system, liaising with design and commercial to replace obsolete equipment, and reviewing maintenance.

In addition to their day job graduates take part in team projects at the beginning of the scheme, ranging from identifying alternative inspection methods for crane rails to building a prototype liquor sampling tool. This was a great introduction to the business, and we were given the opportunity to present our findings to a panel of the executives at the end of the project.

Are you involved in any extra-curricular activities?

There are so many activities and opportunities available. I have been involved in the Big Bang STEM fair, including organising a STEM competition day for local schools and volunteering at the fair itself.

I am currently deputy coordinator for the Graduate Council; I oversee the organisation of social events, plant tours, and social impact work. Current projects include the annual Nuclear Vision Conference – for around 200 graduates and trainees – and the welcome event for the next cohort of graduates. The GC also represents the views of the graduate and placement community to the rest of the company, which has allowed me to engage with people at all levels of the business.

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

I had been worried that it was remote and that there would not be much to do other than hillwalking, but moving to Cumbria was a lot better than I was expecting. In a way it was a bit like starting at university – the scheme brings together lots of people of similar ages, most of whom are new to the area, and all of the other new graduates are also looking to meet people and make friends. Before you start you are paired up with a Graduate Buddy from the year above. They are happy to answer any questions about where to live, how to get to work, and what to expect from the scheme.

I have also found that there is much more to do in Cumbria than hiking up hills!

What is the graduate community like at Sellafield?

From meeting up at lunch times to recommending placements and line managers, the graduate community is very friendly and always willing to help. The Graduate Council organises regular socials ranging from outdoor climbing to nights out, and there are weekly sports clubs in both Cumbria and Risley. Graduates also arrange their own events and invite others using the Facebook group.

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

In order to be successful and get the most out of the scheme, I believe you need to be self-motivated and willing to try new things. There are so many opportunities on offer that will help you develop, gain new skills, and build your network; take advantage of these but learn to balance them with your day job.

What initially attracted you to the Sellafield graduate programme?

I completed a Summer Placement at Sellafield before my final year at university, where I first encountered the diverse and unique challenges present on site and within the nuclear industry. I realised that I wanted a graduate scheme where I was given real responsibility, and where the work I did would make a difference. This was something Sellafield as a company was able to offer.

The scheme itself was very attractive; the wide range of placements available meant that I could experience many areas of the business and also choose my own placements. There are a number of training and development courses included in the scheme such as a technical induction for site, integration into the workplace, and Nuclear Industry Awareness. Sellafield strongly supports graduates working towards chartership, so each graduate is paired up with a mentor from their professional institute.

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

You get out what you put in. This is the advice I was given when I joined the graduate scheme, and it’s true. Embrace the opportunities available to you, be willing to learn, but don’t be afraid to challenge and ask questions.


Jamie Gowland

Human Resources

Profession: Human Resources

Degree Discipline: BA Business Studies & MSc Human Resources

University Attended: University of Sunderland

Job Title: Graduate Case Advisor

What is your role on the graduate programme?

When I started on the graduate programme my first role was in HR Resourcing, during my time in Resourcing I looked into the recruitment aspect of the company, which was interesting as I got to look at graduate recruitment from the recruiter side.

I have since moved to the HR Operations Team as a Discipline and Grievance Case Advisor, so I work a lot with the Unions and the directors of the company which gives a real insight into how the company works from a directorate level. This has opened doors with invites to the heads of value stream lead meetings to see how each functional area works.

Are you involved in any extra-curricular activities?

I am currently training for the Cumbria 3 peaks challenge to raise money for Mind West Cumbria. There is also a Graduate community group that organise kayaking, walks, football matches etc. There are also social which are every weekend to take part in.

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

It was exciting and scary as I was moving from a city, but the graduate community at Sellafield is huge and very close. There’s always something on for graduates to get involved with, as well as events in the office you are working in. All the areas I have worked in are very supportive and welcoming of Graduates and like to get your views on things, so you get to use that knowledge fresh from University.

What is the graduate community like at Sellafield?

It is a very close community, there’s always events a social on and there’s always something to do or take part. The graduate community are always setting the bar high to raise money for charity, and show the positive impact that graduates have on a business which Sellafield widely promotes.

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

I think you need to be a bit out there and take any opportunity you can get and don’t shy away from things. Don’t try to take to many tasks on but try to get involved as much as you can.

What initially attracted you to the Sellafield graduate programme?

For me it was the scale of things, it’s a unique opportunity to work for a company that has nearly 11,000 employees. The scale of development and tasks that are being undertaken at Sellafield such as the forward thinking in technology as well as the way it manages its workforce really appealed to me.

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

Take every opportunity you get. Build a network and make sure you keep that network from the start as it will help you in the future whether it be a simple chat after a meeting to dropping a email.


Stacy Snook

Safety Support

Profession: Safety Support

Degree Discipline: MSc Physics and Technology of Nuclear Reactors /BSc Nuclear Science and Materials

University Attended: University of Birmingham

Job Title: Nuclear Safety Graduate

What is your role on the graduate programme?

I’m on the safety support graduate programme, this involves gaining an insight into areas such as: conventional safety, radiological protection and nuclear safety, so the work is really varied. It is also a chance to gain a broad knowledge of the whole site as we get to visit lots of different facilities.

I’m currently seconded to provide support to a Director on a range of special projects. This includes working on important aspects, such as Sellafield’s environmental remediation strategy and mental health – I feel like this is valuable work and that I am making a meaningful contribution to the business.

I’ve also had the opportunity to visit the World Institute for Nuclear Security (WINS) in Vienna, Austria to participate in discussions on the integration of safety and security culture.

Are you involved in any extra-curricular activities?

Since starting at Sellafield Ltd I have been involved with various societies such as: The Young Generation Network (YGN), Women in Nuclear (WIN), Society for Radiological Protection (SRP), Institute of Physics (IoP) Energy Group and the Nuclear Institute Cumbria Branch, where I hold a committee position. I’m also pretty active with various charities which focus on improving education and welfare and I have received the Freedom of the City of London.

I’ve been involved in the organising of the YGN Cumbria Branch speaking competition, which was a great platform for young people to develop their speaking skills in a constructive environment. I also helped to organise a STEM event for 400 local children and I’m organising the ‘YGN Intro to Waste Management & Decommissioning’ Seminar along with two other graduates which feature industry leaders.

This involvement is not only great for personal and professional development – it’s a great way to meet new people and make a meaningful contribution to the nuclear industry.

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

I was initially a little apprehensive to relocate to Cumbria as I was unfamiliar with the area, but Sellafield made the transition as smooth as possible – I was given a graduate buddy in the year above me who I could always ask questions to which was really reassuring and I attended the welcome event in the summer which helped to get to know fellow graduates before I started the graduate scheme.

Cumbria is a beautiful part of the country and it’s great that the Lakes are on our door step. We’re fortunate to do Outward Bound early into the graduate scheme and this is held in Eskdale, Cumbria – this is a brilliant way to see the outdoor activities the area has to offer and take advantage of the natural beauty and unique location of Cumbria.

What is the graduate community like at Sellafield?

There are over 100 graduates in the local area who are all starting their career at Sellafield and there is an active social calendar so there is always something to get involved with.

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

It’s a cliché – but you’ll get out of the graduate scheme what you put in. There are so many opportunities at Sellafield and within the nuclear industry to help you transition from a student to a nuclear professional. It’s important to embrace them and be open to new experiences.

What initially attracted you to the Sellafield graduate programme?

The scheme is highly regarded within the nuclear industry and I was fortunate to have visited the site as part of my University studies, so applying for the graduate scheme felt like an obvious choice.

I found the idea of being immersed in the most complex nuclear challenges whilst being fully supported to develop into a nuclear professional rather appealing.

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

Don’t wait for opportunities to come to you, go out and grab them.


Matthew Roberts

Technical & Strategy

Profession: Technical & Strategy

Degree Discipline: Physics (MSci)

University Attended: University of Birmingham

Job Title: Alpha Specialist Support

What is your role on the graduate programme?

I am currently working within Remediation dealing with the plutonium contaminated material wastestream. My team provides technical support to operations in receiving, storing and processing of the waste drums. We consider many different aspects of the waste from radiometric measurements and physical and chemical composition to the operations of the plant or building where the waste has been sent from. Compiling all this we decide whether the waste can be supercompacted and processed for eventual storage in a geological disposal facility.

It provides a good overview of lots of areas on site as well allowing me to utilise technical knowledge gained from my degree. The job has a healthy balance of technical report writing and analysis as well as plant interaction and operations support. I have worked with many operators across site and have produced work for the NDA as well as liaise with AWE.

I am also spending 6 months on secondment in the Special Nuclear Materials Strategy and Technical team looking at strategic tolerances on the long term storage of plutonium at the Sellafield site. This will give me a fresh view of other sections of the company and allow me to develop in areas outside of my base technical knowledge.

Are you involved in any extra-curricular activities?

I appreciate how vital young scientists and engineers are to the development of not only the company but the nuclear sector and country, so I became a STEM ambassador to help the growth and development of young people. I have attended the Big Bang fair in Birmingham as well as running and supporting several classroom activities in the local area.

In my spare time I have started to make the most of the unique geography of Cumbria, taking part in the charity Cumbrian Three Peaks challenge as well as completing many walks with other graduates. I also play for local sports clubs and have set up my own dodgeball club for the local area.

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

I found moving to Cumbria somewhat daunting. Having grown up in close proximity to Bristol and then spending 4 years living in Birmingham, Cumbria provided a very different area very far from home. Despite this, Sellafield provided good support to me and other graduates moving from far afield. Sellafield has built a great graduate community that are all very supportive and provides many social events as well as enabling everyone to get to grips with the local area.

What is the graduate community like at Sellafield?

The graduate community is very strong at Sellafield providing lots of support and advice to each other as well as encouraging everyone to participate and join with social events.

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

To be successful it takes someone who goes beyond their basic tasks providing innovative and varied solutions to problems as well as searching for work beyond the initial basic workload. It also takes someone who is keen to understand the workings of the company and seizes any opportunities that are presented to them.

What initially attracted you to the Sellafield graduate programme?

The unique and broad types of work attracted me to Sellafield. The problems and challenges we face from being a historic facility are fascinating. The work also gives direct and clear benefit to the country.

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

My advice would be to take every opportunity you can whilst on the scheme. Sellafield understand the importance of the graduates and appreciate their unique outlook on problems. Also don’t be afraid to speak your mind, don’t assume your ideas have already been thought of.


Melissa Keogh

Technical & Strategy

Profession: Technical & Strategy

Degree Discipline: Undergraduate Degree Chemistry, PhD Materials Science (in progress)

University Attended: University of Manchester

Job Title: Graduate Materials Engineer

What is your role on the graduate programme?

I started the scheme in the Inspection and Certification Group at Risley (Warrington). This placement was a great starting point as I was able to be involved in projects from all over site, and went out into the supply chain on numerous occasions to aid with inspections, or just for a tour. It showed me how vital collaboration and a good relationship with the supply chain is for the future of the Sellafield Site.

I am currently working for the Legacy Ponds Innovation Team on-site. This placement is very different and has challenged my transferable skills rather than my technical knowledge. We are here to deliver solutions to problems on the some of the most problematic and hazardous plants on-site. I have been given my own projects to deliver and be responsible for which has been a fantastic learning curve, and it feels reassuring to have been given such responsibility so early on.

It’s been a great opportunity to come to site and see how different things are compared to the Risley office. Even down to the small things like having to get a bus to the canteen, rather than just walking down stairs. During the graduate programme you get a real feel for the challenges that face Sellafield Ltd to decommission such a complicated site.

Are you involved in any extra-curricular activities?

The Graduate programme really encourages you to get involved and gives you plenty of opportunity to do so.

Everyone is encouraged to become a STEM Ambassador, and this really helps towards your 10 hours of social impact time, as there are always opportunities to promote STEM within the local communities; both in Warrington and Cumbria.

Within my first 6 months with the company I went to the Big Bang Fair 2019 in Birmingham as a volunteer to deliver activities for students at this celebration of Science and Engineering where over 80,000 young people attend. I am now part of the lead team for 2020, and so it’s now my responsibility to arrange a team to attend the fair in 2020 and all the activities to go with it.

I was also part of the team which organised the Nuclear Vision Conference 2019. The NVC is a conference aimed at early career nuclear industry personnel and aims to give them an overview of the variety of tasks and teams that are within the nuclear industry. We had 280 people in attendance from Sellafield Ltd and 60 different supply chain companies.

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

I have just moved to Cumbria for my 6 month on-site secondment. I found talking to other graduates, and those from previous cohorts to be really useful in finding an area to live in. The Sellafield Intranet also has a page where people can post about house vacancies, which is where we ultimately found our house. Whitehaven itself has all your amenities and it’s really lovely to be a short walk to the beach and harbour.

What is the graduate community like at Sellafield?

The graduate community will be your strongest ally whilst on the scheme. Everyone really looks out for each other, and there’s always someone to lend a helping hand; both professionally and socially.

Just by talking to your fellow graduates it’s a great way to discover different areas of the company – even if it’s just over lunch!

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

You get out what you put in. Get involved. Get to know everyone. Take advantage of the opportunities the graduate programme gives you, and don’t be afraid to do something outside of your comfort zone. This is a development scheme and part of that is pushing yourself to try something new. Whether it’s conquering a dislike of heights on Outward Bounds, or having a go a project management by leading the Welcome Event team. If you don’t try it, you’ll never know.

What initially attracted you to the Sellafield graduate programme?

I really liked the opportunity to discover different areas of the company, as it allows you more time to develop, and work out what type of work suits you best. It also provides more opportunities to be involved with extra-curricular opportunities. Also, from starting my PhD with a cohort of people, I knew how important starting your career with a group of like-minded people could be; and that I would receive more support in my transition from academia to industry from the Graduate Development Team than if I’d have just applied for a direct role.

How did you find finishing your PhD and working full-time?

I’m not going to lie, it was hard. Really hard. But I had the full support of the company. From my line-managers, to the Grad Development Scheme, to the Capability Lead; everyone just wanted me to do the best I could, and they gave me the best they could to facilitate that. So if you find yourself in this position, don’t be afraid to speak up.

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

Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help or support. The transition to from being grades and exam driven to a different meaning of success comes with plenty of questions and wobbles. Everyone is here to help, and the Graduate Development Team are wonderful. I’m still asking myself the question ‘what do I want to be when I grow up?’ and sometimes it’s nice to have that reassurance from someone else that not knowing the answer to that question is okay.


Connor Boyer

Civil Structural & Architectural

Profession: Civil Structural & Architectural

Degree Discipline: MEng (Hons) Civil Engineering

University Attended: Liverpool John Moores

Job Title: Graduate CS&A Design Engineer

What is your role on the graduate programme?

The usual route on the graduate scheme for a CS&A designer is to do six month secondments, gaining experience in a variety of; Detailed Design, Geotechnics, Structural Analysis, Project Work, Infrastructure and a site placement for Construction. I however started on a 12-month placement in ISA (Infrastructure Strategic Alliance), which is a project team that is a collaboration of people from ARUP, Morgan Sindall and Sellafield.  I was working on a project that stretches across site, this allows me to learn about Sellafield as a whole whilst hitting Design and Analysis attributes within the Infrastructure Project work. Now I am looking forward to my placement up in Cumbria next summer.

Are you involved in any extra-curricular activities?

Alongside my day job I am the Risley social lead for the graduate council. This involves organising events, trips and nights out for all the graduates, industrial/summer placement students and apprentices. The purpose is to help integrate people, across disciplines, ages and locations. The biggest challenge is finding activities that are fun, affordable and accessible for the majority.

Some of the highlights so far have been, ‘Axe throwing’ in Manchester, the Otley run pub crawl in Leeds, a summer BBQ, and an escape room in Liverpool.

What is the graduate community like at Sellafield?

The graduate community has surpassed my expectations. At the start of the scheme when everyone was trying to work things about we would frequently have meetings to share information and support each other with any issues they might have been facing.

At Risley we still regularly have lunch together, attend socials or football after work. I didn’t expect to make friends as easily straight away or in the volume that I have, which is a key part of any work environment.

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

  • Good communication.
  • Get involved in STEM and community volunteering.
  • Attend events/socials and network with your colleagues.

And when it comes to work, do your best, listen to advise and learn from mistakes. You don’t have to know everything from day one.

What initially attracted you to the Sellafield graduate programme?

Prior to joining the Sellafield graduate scheme, I had worked in a variety of different roles and companies including some of the most famous fast food chains, plus a couple of stinks at summer camps in America. After 4 years of university I wanted to use my degree to actually do something worthwhile, to make a difference. And the decommissioning of Sellafield is exactly that.

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

Don’t stress, approach everything logically and enjoy the scheme. Grasp all the opportunities you can.


Daniel Paterson

Plant Engineering

Profession: Plant Engineering

Degree Discipline: Electrical & Electronic Engineering

University Attended: Northumbria University

Job Title: Graduate Plant Engineer

What is your role on the graduate programme?

My current role on the graduate programme is within the innovation centre. This is a place where a team of engineers (7 for my project) come together from Sellafield and the supply chain and have 6 weeks to design and build a prototype for an onsite problem with a limited budget. Before this, I was in a system engineering secondment which involved being based on plant and looking after assets and equipment. It also involved addressing short term issues as well as ongoing problems, organising maintenance amongst other things. This role was very fast paced, which I enjoyed as I like to be busy.

Are you involved in any extra-curricular activities?

I am a STEM ambassador and am involved in CASS (Cockermouth Afterschool STEM Scheme). This is an afterschool club for primary school children whereby STEM related activities are organised by the CASS team which try and educate primary school children about engineering by participating in activities.

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

Before moving to Cumbria, I thought it would be the last place I would ever live. I have always lived near or in big towns and cities such as Newcastle, where I studied at Northumbria university. Having said all that, Cumbria is an excellent place to live and has lot of stuff to do like long walks through the country side, plenty of sporting opportunities and lots of social activities to do.

Being on the graduate scheme means that there’s a lot of people in the same boat who have never lived here before. There are always socials going on with all the graduates which makes moving here a lot easier.

What is the graduate community like at Sellafield?

The graduate community is excellent. There are always events going on where anyone can go to like sporting events, nights out or anything in between.

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

The main thing is to work hard but make sure you’re not doing the same thing twice. The graduate programme gives you the best opportunity to work in a lot of different areas of site which will give you an appreciation of the mission Sellafield is trying to deliver on.

What initially attracted you to the Sellafield graduate programme?

The graduate programme focuses on graduates striving towards obtaining chartership status within their discipline. Myself being a goal orientated person, this was perfect as this is what I wanted to achieve next following completing my degree at university. The opportunity to be involved in tackling some of Sellafield’s complex challenges also enticed me.

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

Try and take opportunities which come your way, but make sure to balance them with your day job. You will get as much out of the graduate programme as you put into it. Try and ensure that the tasks you are being given are in accordance with your personal development. That is what the graduate scheme is about.


Alexander Lowe-Bird

Design Engineering

Profession: Design Engineering

Degree Discipline: Chemical and Nuclear Engineering

University Attended: Leeds

Job Title: Graduate Process Engineer

What is your role on the graduate programme?

I am Design Engineering graduate based in Risley and I am currently on my second 6-month placement of four with the Effluent Management Strategy team. My role includes tasks such as monitoring/calculating aerial and liquid discharges from the Sellafield Site, computer modelling and government reporting.

I am also on the 2019 Graduate Council as the SharePoint and Communications lead. Responsibilities include managing the Graduate SharePoint page (a hub of information and announcements for the graduate scheme), producing the monthly graduate newsletter and attending council meetings.

Are you involved in any extra-curricular activities?

Graduate football takes place twice a week and I play most times. There are also monthly social events organised around Liverpool, Warrington and Manchester. I’ve also been involved in a number of STEM activities including running work experience programmes for 15-18 year olds and manning the Sellafield stand the at Big Bang at the NEC, Birmingham. I was also part of the team that organised the 2019 Nuclear Vision Conference. There are loads of STEM, social and other things going on too.

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

It took a reasonable amount of effort finding an area to move to alongside a flat, and it’s not the same as university where most people live in the same place so I made sure I moved to an area where previous graduates had lived and recommended. Everyone moving to a new area is in the same boat though so getting in touch with other graduates in good time is very helpful.

What is the graduate community like at Sellafield?

It’s a really outgoing, fun and supportive group of Graduates. Everyone looks out for each other both in and out of work, and as I mentioned previously there are loads of social events and sports organised by graduates. There is also a real sense of ambition within the community, which is fed by regular interaction between graduates and senior managers and the opportunities presented through working at Sellafield.

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

The graduate scheme is all about developing yourself in your profession, so a willingness to adapt to challenges and learning new things is a must; one of the best ways of developing is through tasks at work. It also goes without saying that a positive attitude goes a long way. If a certain job is proving difficult for whatever reason, there will always be help available and using that help is the key to success.

What initially attracted you to the Sellafield graduate programme?

I learned a lot about Sellafield at University and the uniqueness and variety of projects required to decommission the Sellafield site are very interesting to me. Naturally after graduating the next step in career development is to become a Chartered Engineer, and Sellafield is widely regarded as being one of the best companies for helping graduates achieve this. Furthermore there are loads of graduates taken on every year so the prospect of joining such a large graduate community was exciting.

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

Make the most of it and don’t be afraid to ask silly questions! The Graduate Scheme is designed to develop you as a professional so get involved with as much as you can with that in mind.