We catch up with Jordan, who joined nucleargraduates after he graduated from the University of Birmingham with a Masters in Nuclear Engineering.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.
I graduated from the University of Birmingham with a Masters in Nuclear Engineering in 2017 and was fortunate to get straight onto the nucleargraduates scheme in the same year. I am originally from Leeds but, since moving to Cumbria, have developed an appreciation for the great outdoors, with the Lake District now on my doorstep!
What is your role and how long have you been at nucleargraduates?
My current role is as a Graphite Analyst at the National Nuclear Laboratory, an important field of work for EDF Energy to continue the safe operation of their current fleet of AGRs. I will be returning to my sponsor company, Sellafield Ltd, in a Programme Management role upon completion of the scheme, and over the past two years as a nucleargraduate I have also worked as a Plant Engineer for LLW Repository Ltd and as a Consultant for Corporate Risk Associates.
What first inspired you to apply for a role with nucleargraduates?
I knew I wanted to work in the nuclear industry, and what sets nucleargraduates apart is the vast array of opportunities available to you on the scheme. Beyond the structured training programme in place for all the graduates, you are given the opportunity to drive your own development through your choice of secondments and a generous training budget to spend on CPD activities which suit you. I was also attracted to the Footprints aspect of nucleargraduates, which I think is unique among graduate schemes: I have really enjoyed my work as a STEM Ambassador and the opportunity to visit Ukraine as part of my job was amazing!
Tell us the top three skills you have learnt during your time at nucleargraduates and why you need them in your role.
1: Adaptability and flexibility. These are crucial for any nucleargraduate and if, like me, you weren’t too flexible before the scheme it is something you will pick up quickly! The ability to hit the ground running as you move between secondments, working at a new company with a new team and sometimes in a new city or even country, is very important and having flexibility allows you to adapt to changes in the workplace with confidence too.
2: Communication. Successfully conveying ideas is vital in any role and the ability to communicate at any level is something which will be developed on nucleargraduates. One day you are presenting a report to senior staff in the company and the next you are in a Primary School teaching about dinosaurs as part of your STEM Ambassador work!
3: Leadership and teamwork. I have grouped these together as I think it is important for an effective and efficient team to contain individuals with good leadership skills: those who lead by example and seek to help and develop others for the benefit of the whole group. These are skills which can be developed in a safe space throughout the training zones on the scheme, before applying within your own projects, teams and future careers at work.
What kind of training have you received? How has this helped your professional development? (Think about training, support, coaching and the experts you work with internally and clients)
On the scheme you are provided with a mentor, who helps with your development in your chosen area for chartership, as well as a team adviser who offers more pastoral care; both have provided me with invaluable advice and support over the past two years. I have received a wide range of training through nucleargraduates, from Business Skills and Project Management to Leadership and Influencing and Negotiating. These not only count towards your chartership but are also very applicable in the workplace as well as the SME Challenge, which allows you to put these skills into practice. I have also spent my personal CPD budget on several opportunities both in the UK and abroad, including conferences and site visits in Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain, through institutes such as the NI, IMechE and IChemE.
What excites you about the work you are doing? (Is it the scale of activities you carry out, the global nature of the company, the impact you make on your team etc?)
The most exciting thing about the work I have done on nucleargraduates is being able to deliver projects which make a real difference to the industry. I have had the opportunity to be involved in innovative research in safety and security, rewritten a safety-critical company procedure for operating and maintaining plants, and am currently delivering a project which has been deemed high priority by EDF Energy. I recently visited one of my old secondment hosts and they have managed to win further work from a big customer as a result of work which I was involved in, so you should never underestimate the impact you can have as a secondee!
What do you find most interesting with the sector/industry you're in?
One of the most interesting things about the nuclear industry is learning about the history of some of these old sites such as Sellafield and the LLW Repository, which were both in fact munitions factories during World War II prior to becoming nuclear licensed sites. Learning about the history of Sellafield, for example, has helped me to understand many of the challenges being faced today as the site moves away from reprocessing and into hazard reduction and decommissioning.
What is the company culture like?
The culture is one of a tight-knit group of colleagues who have become very good friends over the course of the scheme. The whole cohort meet several times over the two years for training zones which helps to build those bonds, and there are usually other graduates in your area who are seconded to the same company as you, as well as alumni from the previous years. The community is very strong, and I have stopped being surprised now when I meet a fellow nucleargraduate at an obscure meeting or conference – we are everywhere!
How has this role and the experiences you've gained set you up for future career progression and success?
I decided on the permanent role which I am taking up with my sponsor company as a direct result of my development on the scheme and what I have learnt about myself over the past two years. The scheme places a big emphasis on giving and receiving feedback and reflecting on your behaviours as well as your technical capabilities. Through this reflection I came to realise that a role in Programme Management, a field which is more strategic and involves having a broader overview of the company and industry, is perfectly suited for the skills and behaviours which I have been developing on nucleargraduates, particularly leadership and communication. The experiences which I have had on each of my four very different secondments have helped me come to this decision, and I would not have had the opportunity to have such varied roles were I not on the nucleargraduates scheme.
Has anything surprised you since you started at nucleargraduates?
I have been surprised at how well my cohort has gelled as a group, and how many friends I have made on the scheme. I was a little tentative coming into the programme and was perhaps slightly reserved, however now I have made some friends for life and we are already looking forward to returning to our sponsor company to get the old gang back together!
Finally, any tips for members wanting to apply to nucleargraduates?
I would advise you to be authentic and just be yourself; however, don’t be resistant to change and try new things as you develop over the course of the scheme. Also, I would say that nucleargraduates is a great scheme and the opportunities are there for you if you want to take them, so be proactive – you only get out what you put in!
To find out more about nucleargraduates and their opportunities, click here.