Chemistry Student Charlotte Welsh from Teesside University shares her experiences of being on placement at our Hartlepool Power station.
What was the interview process like?
I am currently sponsored by the company so the interview process was slightly different for me as I have done parts of the process previously and did not have to repeat them, but the general process outlined on the website is pretty straightforward. The interview process is completely fair, but can be tough if you have never had to do one before.
The interview is completed by members of the hiring team. Just remember that they are not there to trick you, they want to see your potential.
How much responsibility do you have?
I am currently working on Periodic Safety Review 3 for the Hartlepool/Heysham 1 project. I have to deliver information accurately and on time to the correct people or the project could fall behind. As we are on a set schedule and delivery date, it’s part of my job to ensure this does not happen.
My supervisor has also arranged for me to gain some experience with the station chemistry department, including helping them with a current project involving a change in chemical dosing to some of the cooling water systems on site due to a change in legislation.
What advice would you give to students applying for your role? Be prepared for a steep learning curve; it is a completely different learning environment to university. Your supervisor and department will always help you and if you ever have any questions do not be afraid to ask them. The more you ask, the more you will learn and the easier your job will be. There are staff here who have been here since the station was being built so make the most of the knowledge you can gain from them.
What do you most enjoy about your role?
It’s challenging for me, as it is a lot of knowledge outside of my degree as I primarily work for an Engineering department. My supervisor enjoys testing my knowledge to see how much I have learned.
Describe your biggest achievement?
My two biggest achievements are: The Periodic Safety Review 3 and the Chemistry research I carried out.
Part of the Periodic Safety Review 3 project involved confirming full closure of all the previous Periodic Safety Review report recommendations. As part of this exercise, I took it upon myself to gather all the evidence to confirm the full closure of an action focused on one of the fire systems used on station. This ended up with 28 pages of evidence to prove its completion and in recognition; a positive condition report was placed on the company’s system with my name on it.
Within the Chemistry department I was asked to test samples relating to a cooling water system used on site to see what effect pH has on the concentration of chromate. It is currently being decided what new regimen to use for this system due to the current dosing chemical being banned from use in September 2017. This research resulted in a report which has helped with the decision making process.
How has this experience exceeded your expectations?
I expected to learn a lot, but the way opportunities are given to you is wonderful. There are always chances to learn and improve, and it can be both technical and personal skills that are developed. I never expected to have so much freedom or support from my supervisor, who will test me on what I have learned and explain something to me in detail and show me the area in person to help me learn.
What is the atmosphere like on site?
Everyone is so friendly. They will normally say hello and asks how you are doing as you walk past each other.
What activities are there outside of work?
Most people from station live in Hartlepool or the surrounding area (such as Middlesbrough which is 20 minutes away by car or 30 minutes by bus or train). Hartlepool has a lot of evening dining choices, gyms and the seaside resort Seaton Carew. It’s also a train ride from Newcastle which has a really good nightlife, York which has some brilliant sightseeing attractions and the Metrocentre which is great for a shopping day.
How promising are the graduate prospects?
As a currently sponsored student, I am waiting to find out if there is a graduate opportunity in 2018 available for me. All IP’s are put forward for sponsorship with the company before their placement ends and it is an amazing opportunity I have taken full advantage of.
Find out more about EDF and their opportunities right here.