Monday, September 24, 2012

Life is what you make it. Always has been, always will be." - Eleanor Roosevelt

Bryony Smith, this year's winner of the Engineering Undergraduate of the Year award writes for us about her experience and her first week at her placement with E.on. Her life sounds very exciting, this should be very motivating for those considering entering next year. 

It’s a Sunday evening and already I can’t wait for a lie in. My uni friends still have another month off, whilst I’ve got over a year of work before I head back north for three more years of study. And I think it’s brilliant.

It’s been nearly 5 months since Michael Portillo announced I had won the prize of 48 weeks’ work with E.on (And of course the title “Engineering Undergraduate of the Year” and a week’s trip to the Netherlands-more on that later).  It slightly worries me that a placement year should be considered a prize for the lucky few; but life is what you make of it. If you don’t apply for jobs I can almost guarantee you won’t get any offers.  You can only benefit for applying for schemes like these.  I applied having had a great Year In Industry (YINI) at National Grid, who are now kindly sponsoring me, and some of my fellow YINIs through our engineering degrees.

But, back to the present. I’ve completed my 8 weeks at National Grid (as part of my sponsorship contract) and my first week at E.on. I’m not convinced it was a typical week. Straight after an intense first day of inductions and project briefing, we travelled in preparation for a “community day” where the wider team all come together; in this case to build an outside garden and activity area for a special needs college.  This involved somewhat more than originally thought and so our team meeting scheduled for the next day was transformed into an informal update/ plumbing session. This was a great introduction to a normally widely dispersed team, with lots of banter and an excellent opportunity to learn how everyone worked together (or not!).  Thursday was back to the office for a crash course on my project for the next few months (a warning/advice system to manage the Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plants more effectively). Friday was an early start for the long journey to Liverpool (4hrs leaving at 0645) to look at the current system, meet my project predecessor and hear from plant staff what they really wanted the system to do.

In a week’s time, I’m off to Benelux in Rotterdam, to see the power plant and city heating scheme (part of the prize) and after that who knows? Uni life is never far away.  A year of touring my friends’ unis, with money in my pocket and no coursework to worry about sounds pretty good, as do the job offers (particularly as my school friends are now 3rd years and freaking out over job applications). Some people complain I’m lucky, but the future is what you make of it and opportunities can be created. After all the saying goes “the more I practise, the luckier I get” so what’s stopping you? 

If you think you have what it takes pre-register here and if you pre-register before the applications open on Monday 1 October you will also be entered into a prize draw to win a £25 Itunes gift card.