I applied for the Network Rail Engineering Graduate Programme in the Autumn of 2016, and was offered a position after completing several assessments including a situational judgement test, psychometric test and an assessment centre. I chose Network Rail above other employers as I have a keen interest in control systems, which I knew could be applied to Network Rail programs such as 'Digital Railway' and 'Intelligent Infrastructure'; I also felt that the graduate scheme offered many enticing benefits such as a generous leave package and season ticket discount.
As the scheme is split into four 6-month placements with scope to work in a variety of disciplines and on a wide selection of projects, there is no typical day for me. Recently, I have spent 6-months working in the maintenance department honing both my technical and managerial skills, while presently I am based in an asset management team which is affording me the opportunity to expand my knowledge of Signalling (my railway discipline) and the processes behind running an effective rail network. In addition to this, I have been involved in many extra-curricular projects such as: acting as project manager on a £250K programme to encourage young people from underrepresented geographical areas into engineering and higher education (HE); acting as a mentor for both the Social Mobility Foundation and the National College of High Speed Rail; organising a conference for the entire NR engineering graduate cohort; and working as a STEM ambassador among other things.
Through working for Network Rail, I have also been able to attend several interesting training courses including managerial courses on leadership skills and 'lean' methods of working, as well as industry recognised technical courses on Signalling design. This has been beneficial as the courses I have attended will contribute to my future chartership application, of which the company is very supportive. As the graduate scheme is accredited by several Engineering Council institutions, all graduates receive an abundance of support towards professional recognition in the form of mentors and training.
The highlight of the graduate scheme so far is the company culture - opportunities for both personal and professional improvement are present and we are encouraged to seize them! A good personal example is my appointment as a project manager on the 'Fast Trackers' scheme, which saw me oversee a programme of events encouraging underrepresented young people into HE and liaising with high profile industry contacts such as Clair Mowbray (CEO, National College of High Speed Rail), Roma Agrawal (The Shard, AECOM) and Jim O'Sullivan (CEO, Highways England). Within my role in the project, I was also responsible for liaising with the media and coordinating communications as well as volunteer procurement and management. The reception from the wider industry has been excellent, with receiving a personal thank you letter from Sir Peter Hendy CBE (NR Chair), seeing the project in print (Rail Staff Magazine) and being shortlisted for an award (Graduate Initiative of the Year, CN Talent Awards Nov 2018) as particular highlights within the project itself. In addition to this, I have become lifelong friends with the my project colleagues.
The most enjoyable parts of my job are the opportunities to meet new people and step out of my comfort zone on a regular basis. Although I haven't met all 38,000 of my colleagues, all of the ones I have encountered so far are incredibly friendly and forthcoming, and I always leave a team feeling like I've added value.