Foreign Affairs Support Officer
Name: Jennifer Li | Age: 26
Degree & University:
University of Central Lancashire, BA (Hons) International Business
nucleargraduate, currently Foreign Affairs Support Analyst, Office of Corporate and Global Partnership Development, Office of Nuclear Energy, U.S. Department of Energy (USDOE), Washington, D.C.
What do you actually do?
I work with the international engagement team within the Office of Nuclear Energy and assist in preparing for major international engagements such as the International Atomic Energy Agency General Conference and the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership Executive Committee Meeting and its two working groups – the Infrastructure Development Working Group, and the Reliable Nuclear Fuel Services Working Group. We prepare briefing books for the Secretary of Energy, Dr. Steven Chu, and his staff and liaise with international government agencies with respect to civil nuclear collaboration and cooperation among other things. Being on secondment with the USDOE gives me the opportunity to learn about many different civil nuclear programmes across the globe from countries with advanced programmes like France and the United States but also to learn about what is happening in countries in the development stages such as Jordan and Poland.
Before this I was a Learning and Development Consultant at Magnox North, Hunterston A Site, West Kilbride, in Scotland. During my secondment the organisation was focusing on developments for the future and this included knowledge management. As the UK nuclear industry faces a major skills gap there needs to be measures in place to ensure that as much relevant information is captured as possible and transferred to the upcoming younger nuclear generation. Through the Magnox North Knowledge Management Working Group we developed a strategy, policy and action plan to implement knowledge management across the business that will ensure a strong workforce for current and future decommissioning and clean up of nuclear power plants.
What was it about the nuclear sector that attracted you?
I was attracted to the design of the graduate programme rather than the nuclear industry. I was looking for something that would keep me on my toes, where I’d work across different projects, and that would include some international travel. The nucleargraduates scheme offered all of that and much more. The nuclear industry was very unknown to me and I didn’t even realise that I lived within 20 miles of a nuclear power station until I started the programme.
What do you most like about what you do and are there any downsides?
I like the variety and seeing different sides of the industry. Most graduate schemes show you the industry from one organisation’s point of view, but nucleargraduates gives you all points of view from government, to supply chain, to the international arena which enables you to see how they fit together and to see the benefits that can be realised by further integration.
What advice would you give other graduates coming into this sector?
Be prepared to engage with all types of people from administration staff to executive level. Operate in a professional manner and remember that you represent not only the graduate scheme but also the entire nuclear industry, particularly when out on an international secondment. Nothing should be below you but at the same time be assertive about what you want and go after it. Show people what you are capable of by doing the small things and the bigger and better things will fall into place.
Are you planning to stay in the nuclear sector?
I have not decided whether to remain in the nuclear industry, but if I do it will be in the area of human resource development and skills.
What would you say to other graduates who are still unsure of the nuclear sector?
The more you learn about it the less scary it becomes. The nuclear industry is one of the safest industries in the world because of the potential risks associated with it. The risks cause organisations to always remain one step ahead of the game and science and technology is developing at such a pace that it’s only going to get more exciting. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?