Name: Becky Read | Age: 24
Degree & University:
Natural Sciences at The University of Birmingham. In English that means I studied Biochemistry and Chemistry with a bit of French thrown into the mix. I completed a four year course and spent my third year living in Toulouse in the south of France, studying Biology in French. A bit of a steep learning curve, bearing in mind that I didn’t do A-Level French!
Nucleargraduate currently working as a Policy Advisor for The Department of Energy and Climate Change in the Nuclear Waste Team.
What do you actually do?
Policy Advisor is the generic name given to government officials that are either creating new polices or implementing existing policies. One of our key projects is to engage with local communities across England and to persuade them to come forward to start talking to the Government about potentially hosting a Geological Disposal Facility. This is a highly engineered facility that will store radioactive waste from nuclear power stations. I have therefore produced and am implementing a communication plan to engage with these local communities. Another area of work that I was asked to complete during this placement was to come up with an approach to streamline a high level policy group. The group had been suspended for a six month period so that it could become more strategic and deal with the key policy issues in an appropriate timescale. When completing any policy work it is vital to inform your minister of any important issues that arise and I tell you I was a little nervous the first time I sent up a submission to Lord Hunt! I made the decision that I wanted to work for the Government for one of my placements so that I would understand how the Government works and I could then take that knowledge with me to my next placement.
Had you contemplated going into the nuclear industry at university?
To be truthfully honest I had no career plans at all during university and I fell into this industry by pure chance. In fact my mum sent me a flyer for a careers fair that was taking place in Birmingham and in order to please her I went along. I am now very thankfully that I did!
What attracted you to the nuclear sector?
An industry that is set for expansion is an attractive element for anyone, but the complexity of the industry and the challenges that ii faces by the nature of the work were definitely aspects that attracted me. It also fulfilled my criteria that the science side of me would not be lost.
How did you find out about nucleargraduates?
I met the guy in charge of the graduate scheme at a careers fair, in Birmingham. The stand was an enormous silver inflatable igloo, so it was a little hard to miss, and anyone with any degree of curiosity couldn’t help but stop for a chat.
What do you most like about what you do and are there any downsides?
The people that I have met and worked with during my last two placements have not only been a great source of knowledge and have always been willing to teach and assist me, but also have made the placements truly enjoyable. It has been hard piling my belongings into a car every few months and trying to find new places to live, but on the other hand the experience that you gain through moving around is invaluable.
Has anything really memorable happened on your placements?
The first was going inside a nuclear submarine, in a skirt! Not my fault may I add, but I didn’t feel particularly lady-like with my skirt hitched up under my protective clothing. The second was having a conversation with Ed Miliband about his newborn son. It was during the official opening of The Department of Energy and Climate Change, when I was quietly helping myself to a cup a tea. Having discussed the nucleargraduates scheme the conversation turned to talk about how he nearly called his newborn son after his wife’s anaesthetist. A little surreal!
What skills do you need to succeed at what you do?
In order to be successful you have to have enthusiasm and be willing to learn at every opportunity. People don’t expect you to be an expert from the moment that you walk in the door, but if you can turn your hand to whatever is presented to you then you will be well on your way to success. One other thing that I would say is that the people around you are the people with the experience and expertise and you never know when you might need them in the future so bear that in mind.
What would you say to reassure other graduates about the nuclear sector?
There are still many misconceptions about the industry and my friends and family still ask me if nuclear power stations glow green! But in all seriousness, I have never worked in another industry where safety is absolutely at the top of everyone’s agenda. In fact there are so many safety barriers it’s a wonder anything is ever done.
Are you planning to stay in the nuclear sector?
This is a question that I am often asked: where do you see yourself in five years time? To tell you the truth I can’t tell you. Some people like to plan their careers for the foreseeable future, but I am a great believer that if you are hardworking and create networks wherever you go then the doors will open for you. At this moment I would love to stay in the nuclear industry, it is the place to be right now! So, don’t ponder, come and join the family!