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Employee profile

Sophie Collier

Sophie Collier

nucleargraduates

I can’t believe how fast time has flown over the last 2 years on the nucleargraduates programme. My three secondments have varied greatly:

I spent my first 8 months with the Magnox Technical Function in their Process and Environment team down in Bristol, mainly working on hydrogen management and ventilation from nuclear waste packages.

My next 6 months were spent at the Office for Nuclear Regulation in their Chemistry and Chemical Engineering Specialism in Cheltenham; working on safety assessments for a new project at Sellafield.

My final 9 months (or so I thought) would be spent at Trawsfynydd Site in North Wales in the Waste Operations team, learning about low-level waste management.

Three months into my final secondment we went into lockdown. I’m not going to say that it was an easy transition period to having to work from home, and I couldn’t help but feel like I was ‘missing out’ on the development that being on site would offer me. That feeling didn’t last long though. I actually feel like I have been able to be more productive from home and will be finishing this secondment having met some great – yet different – SMART Objectives. I found myself getting involved in the site Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (ED&I) group and ended up contributing to the site strategy and had to present it (virtually) to the lead team – this was a great opportunity and proves that you can still have visibility within your wider organisation, despite not being physically present in the office/site.

My typical day includes a KIT (Keep in Touch) meeting with my team: Monday’s we have a Zoom; Tuesday’s a quiz; Wednesday’s a Team Meeting to discuss work progress; and Thursday’s a general chat. With Magnox we don’t work Friday’s, so the long weekend is always a bonus! Between these meetings as well as the nucleargraduates team meetings and committee meetings, I manage to get quite a lot of work done without the distractions that being in the office can give you. Don’t get me wrong, it is great to have the social interaction that the office provides, but you’d be surprised at how quickly you adapt to the ‘new normal’ and being able to work virtually.

My main advice would be to try and get yourself a proper set-up if you can; a computer screen and separate workspace (not your bedroom) makes all the difference. This will really help with separating ‘work’ from ‘home’, as sometimes there can be a fine line between the two and it can be hard to switch off.

I have felt very lucky to have been on the nucleargraduates scheme over the last 6 months and throughout the transition period to working from home. They helped contribute to me getting a screen, keyboard and mouse for my working from home set-up; have kept in regular contact by providing weekly updates; and even organised a course of wellbeing sessions and a virtual escape room to help us focus on our mental health and to stay in touch with our fellow cohort members!

The thought of starting your career with working from home may seem daunting at first; but please don’t worry about it. Most organisations have adapted incredibly to this ‘new normal’ and you’ll probably enjoy the flexibility that it offers you with regards to your working pattern. Just throw yourself in to any social calls that your team may have, and don’t be scared to pick up the phone or organise a Zoom call with your colleagues for a coffee morning or chat – I can guarantee they’ll appreciate the break!

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