Monday, September 30, 2013

Jake Tudge talks about his first month interning with E.ON, his prize for winning the Engineering Undergraduate of the Year Award

It’s been one month since I joined E.ON as an Undergraduate Trainee for my year placement, and what a month it has been! I’ve clambered inside a power station boiler, visited our international operations and met some of the leading authorities in the sector. A varied, but incredibly exciting, month and I can’t wait for it to continue! And to think, all this came from sitting down one Sunday afternoon to complete an Undergraduate of the Year application, which I honestly thought would just be a useful experience of applying for a job…

When I arrived for my first day at E.ON HQ I was incredibly nervous, but the first thing that struck me was the kindness of the people at E.ON. Every single person I have met has welcomed me and taken the time to talk to me; this really has made it a very approachable environment and has meant I haven’t been nervous about asking a question that may appear silly! The offices in Coventry are brilliant with large atriums, flexible meeting spaces, open plan offices and a very relaxed feel, but it all makes for a positive working environment.

Week 1:
(picture: E.ON HQ, Coventry)
It’s amazing how an office environment speaks another language; most of my first week involved understanding the acronyms, terms and code used around the company. My thanks go to Bryony, Engineering Undergraduate of the Year 2012, for helping me with a smooth transition of roles. After lots of questions, setting up of accounts and organising of initial meetings, work was ready to begin with a site trip to one of our CHP (Combined Heat and Power) plants in Cheshire. Bryony took the time to show me around one of our largest sites and it was absolutely daunting! For someone used to excel sheets and aerodynamics, what essentially was a large chemistry set, was incredibly intimidating, but at the same time absolutely fascinating! And so, my year with E.ON has commenced; I can’t wait to learn more and I’m very excited for my time ahead.

Week 2:

The heart of our business is the generation fleet and the people who manage these complex sites. E.ON has been very supportive; they understand it’s an advantage for undergraduate trainees to understand what happens outside of the office! As a result, I was sent to spend a week at one of our CHP sites in Liverpool. This was a great opportunity to comprehend one of our power stations, as well as understand operational requirements from our colleagues on site. While the trip was great fun and extremely interesting, it also highlighted the importance of operational safety within our company, as there was a lot of onsite procedures and personal protective equipment (PPE). This raised the distinct difference between a conventional ‘office’ job and a more ‘hands-on’ role. I certainly enjoyed visiting a site; it’s going to be exciting to complete projects in the office, which I can see have a direct impact on site – a great balance of the two areas. 
(PPE - No pic of me in my overalls unfortunately!)

Week 3:

E.ON’s CHP sites are spread across the country, ranging from Kent to Cheshire, and the team I am in (Performance) are required to identify potential opportunities. As a result, we have a monthly team meeting with our performance engineers, chemist and managers. These meetings are held on sites across the country and often include a hotel stay and team meal the night before; this is a fantastic way to bond with the team and discuss work, before the official meeting the next day. My first meeting provided a detailed understanding into the current CHP operations at E.ON; I was apprehensive about getting lost, but the team kept me involved the whole day and explained everything in great detail. As an undergraduate you are worried about being a hassle, but E.ON sees their undergraduates as a fresh pair of eyes; perhaps identifying new areas of opportunity. Once again, E.ON has showed how they value their undergraduates and it’s great to not be worried about asking questions or suggesting new ideas!                                                                   (A CHP site can get rather complex)

Week 4:

This really was a week like no other; electric bicycles, power plant tours, presentations and valuable networking! As part of my Engineering Undergraduate of the Year award, a friend and I were sent to Sweden for a week to view E.ON’s international operations. It was a brilliant opportunity to see another side to the global E.ON business. We were really well looked after by both E.ON UK and E.ON Sweden with a lovely hotel in Malmö centre, presentations from global energy experts and personalised tours around some exciting sites. A highlight in the trip was a chance to tour the district heating network, which is part of the world-recognised sustainable city of Malmö. E.ON has heavily invested towards a sustainable city and eco-homes; these work directly with the consumer so they can understand their own energy usage. It was the small things that made a difference, such as iPad apps to show energy usage, and user-friendly interface control systems; a real insight into what could happen in the UK soon! I’d like to thank all those from E.ON UK and E.ON Sweden who made this such a valuable and enjoyable trip.

To conclude:
And so, earlier this year I was frantically applying for placements and wondering where I would go, and now I’m working for a forward-thinking and innovative global company. I’ve met like-minded undergraduates (Many who are also now working for E.ON), made some brilliant friends and, very importantly, I believe I’ve found an industry I could see myself working for in the future. All those who have actually read this far (I’ll be surprised if many!), should not consider the possibility of not succeeding; enter the Undergraduate of the Year awards and you could see yourself having a very enriching experience! Once again, thank you to E.ON and TARGETjobs for such an opportunity

If you think you can win the engineering undergraduate of the year award then pre-register today. You could be joining Jake next year at the E.ON Headquarters. 

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