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Sellafield Ltd

Employee profile

Flora Smith

Graduate Mechanical Engineer

What is your role on the graduate programme?

The Plant Engineering scheme involves a number of placements over the two years to give graduates exposure to different areas of the business. One of the highlights so far has been working with the underwater Remotely Operated Vehicle innovation team. It was the first time I was able to apply the theory I had learned at university, and it has been really exciting to see equipment I was involved in procuring making a real difference on plant. I am currently in a system engineering placement; a typical day for me involves investigating any issues on my system, liaising with design and commercial to replace obsolete equipment, and reviewing maintenance.

In addition to their day job graduates take part in team projects at the beginning of the scheme, ranging from identifying alternative inspection methods for crane rails to building a prototype liquor sampling tool. This was a great introduction to the business, and we were given the opportunity to present our findings to a panel of the executives at the end of the project.

Are you involved in any extra-curricular activities?

There are so many activities and opportunities available. I have been involved in the Big Bang STEM fair, including organising a STEM competition day for local schools and volunteering at the fair itself.

I am currently deputy coordinator for the Graduate Council; I oversee the organisation of social events, plant tours, and social impact work. Current projects include the annual Nuclear Vision Conference – for around 200 graduates and trainees – and the welcome event for the next cohort of graduates. The GC also represents the views of the graduate and placement community to the rest of the company, which has allowed me to engage with people at all levels of the business.

How did you find moving to a new area after University?

I had been worried that it was remote and that there would not be much to do other than hillwalking, but moving to Cumbria was a lot better than I was expecting. In a way it was a bit like starting at university – the scheme brings together lots of people of similar ages, most of whom are new to the area, and all of the other new graduates are also looking to meet people and make friends. Before you start you are paired up with a Graduate Buddy from the year above. They are happy to answer any questions about where to live, how to get to work, and what to expect from the scheme.

I have also found that there is much more to do in Cumbria than hiking up hills!

What is the graduate community like at Sellafield?

From meeting up at lunch times to recommending placements and line managers, the graduate community is very friendly and always willing to help. The Graduate Council organises regular socials ranging from outdoor climbing to nights out, and there are weekly sports clubs in both Cumbria and Risley. Graduates also arrange their own events and invite others using the Facebook group.

What do you think it takes to be successful on the graduate programme?

In order to be successful and get the most out of the scheme, I believe you need to be self-motivated and willing to try new things. There are so many opportunities on offer that will help you develop, gain new skills, and build your network; take advantage of these but learn to balance them with your day job.

What initially attracted you to the Sellafield graduate programme?

I completed a Summer Placement at Sellafield before my final year at university, where I first encountered the diverse and unique challenges present on site and within the nuclear industry. I realised that I wanted a graduate scheme where I was given real responsibility, and where the work I did would make a difference. This was something Sellafield as a company was able to offer.

The scheme itself was very attractive; the wide range of placements available meant that I could experience many areas of the business and also choose my own placements. There are a number of training and development courses included in the scheme such as a technical induction for site, integration into the workplace, and Nuclear Industry Awareness. Sellafield strongly supports graduates working towards chartership, so each graduate is paired up with a mentor from their professional institute.

If you could give a future graduate some advice, what would it be?

You get out what you put in. This is the advice I was given when I joined the graduate scheme, and it’s true. Embrace the opportunities available to you, be willing to learn, but don’t be afraid to challenge and ask questions.