Meet Katie, a Mechanical Engineering Graduate working on the Submarine Attack Nuclear Replacement (SSNR) programme. Katie joined the graduate programme in January 2023 after relocating for the role.
What is your role at BAE Systems and can you explain what this involves?
I am a mechanical engineer working on the SSNR programme in the propulsion team, currently we are focusing on the final touches of the systems. This involves working together with a variety of systems and disciplines to determine exactly what needs to be done and how it is going to be achieved.
This is the next class of submarines to be built and delivered after the Dreadnought programme so the project I am currently working on is quite long-term, since the end-dates are further away than for other submarine classes. Personally this appeals to me as it feels like I have joined a project relatively close to the start, and therefore can learn alongside the other members of my team rather than feeling like I am catching up.
I find it incredibly interesting, because every piece of work is something new and I feel like I am always learning, whether it's about the systems themselves or about the submarine in general. I enjoy working on submarines because I knew very little about them, so it is exciting to get to understand all the systems involved and the specific engineering principles that make it all work.
Did you relocate for the role, and if so what made you decide to do so?
I did decide to relocate for the role as I’d rather be close to the place that I work so that I can come into the office when needed, or if working from home gets a bit stale. Plus, it gave myself and my partner an opportunity to formally move 'away from home' after we had both finished our degrees.
What was it about the BAE Systems graduate programme and your specific role that attracted you and ultimately persuaded you it was worth the move?
When I was looking for jobs after graduating, a lot of the positions advertised towards recent graduates weren't actually suited for grads. There weren't many opportunities for grads with little to no experience, such as myself, and the expectations were equivalent to that of someone who had been working in the industry for 10+ years.
The graduate programme offered by BAE Systems felt like it had been tailored specifically for people like me. With so many different job positions available and the flexibility of the entry requirements, it felt like you were being given the freedom to choose a role that truly fit you. The description for my chosen role sounded very similar to the work I had been doing at university, which was reassuring and helped to contextualise the role. Additionally, the enthusiasm with which my application was responded to was encouraging and made me feel like I had found a good place to work. Overall I found myself interested in the scheme, despite how far the location was from where I was living.
Were there any challenges or concerns you had when relocating? If so, how did you overcome these?
My main concern was about finding somewhere nice to live, when you're a student you're not really worried about how nice your house is because you'll be so busy and you know that it is only temporary, when I moved away from home properly, I knew I had to do it right. The way I managed this was to look for places to rent in the months before my job started, this not only allowed me to understand the types of places that were available, but the average prices, and how long they stayed on the market for, so when it came down to signing off on somewhere it didn't feel rushed or last minute.
Another concern was the initial move, I had only recently passed my driving test and moving up here would have been the biggest drive I had ever done, so I was a little nervous. Thankfully I was able to bring someone with me, which made it feel a bit more like an adventure.
What’s the culture like on your site?
Everyone is super friendly! It's a really simple thing but it makes those days when you're all in the office that little bit brighter. I really don't think I would have been as happy or comfortable in my role if I hadn't had such a great team supporting me.
Do you feel like you’ve managed to make a new support network for yourself in your new home?
I would say so. The graduate cohort I was a part of was smaller than previous years, but everyone was so nice that the induction was a lot less daunting than I previously worried about. I still keep in contact with some of the graduates and meet outside of work!
Moving with my partner also helped, as now we have our own place to host friends it means we get to see people more often and make the most of our weekends.
The Early Careers team here as well also set up an online community page where we were able to find out who else was in the cohort, and one of the other grads had set up a group chat for us all. This was helpful as it meant I knew I wasn't the only one relocating, and that I would have some familiar faces when I did move.
What would you say to someone who is considering relocating for a graduate programme but isn’t quite sure?
The best thing to do would be to investigate the place you are planning on moving to, if you can make the time, try and visit for a weekend or a few days to see what it is like to walk around. Additionally, you can investigate the area and places around or nearby to where you're relocating, just in case those places are more suited to your style. Give yourself options, moving and trying to find a new place in an unfamiliar location is difficult enough, so it's always good to take it at your own place and make accommodations for yourself!