Tuesday, September 30, 2014

We speak to the winner of the 2014 Low Carbon Undergraduate of the Year Award on her experience since the final!

In January 2014 I had just got back from my semester abroad, studying at the National University of Singapore, and was looking forward to starting my third year design project. I was in the process of looking for a summer internship and noticed an e-mail from my university advertising the competition. I think everyone’s first reaction when seeing that only one person receives the award is that the chances of winning are slim. However the experience gained from applying is invaluable and anyone should give it a go as I definitely surprised myself by getting through each stage.
In order to apply I had to submit an application form with two short essays about how my studies contribute to a low carbon future.  Take your time to write these and think about how you could make yours stand out.
Here is a selfie of me and Torness nuclear power station
which I was very sad to leave as it has such a friendly atmosphere.

The next step was to complete a range of online tests. This included numerical reasoning, logical reasoning and workplace role play tests. These tests provide good training and practice as they are used by most companies in their application procedures.
I was thrilled a few weeks later when I got an e-mail inviting me to an assessment centre in a lovely hotel in Cheltenham Spa. The event ran throughout the whole day, so we were very busy going from one group exercise to another and completing in class tests.
There were three group exercises. The assessors were mainly looking for soft skills here.
·         The first was a problem based group task in which we had to demonstrate leadership and innovation in the way we approached the problem. There was a lot of time pressure so it was essential to remain composed and not be scared to propose alternative solutions. I would recommend you take your time to read through all the documents provided as it is easy to skim read and miss some crucial information.
·         The second task was to build a wind turbine. This gave us the opportunity to show leadership skills by delegating a job to each team member. Organisation and coordination was necessary in order assemble the wind turbine under a certain time.
·         The third group exercise took the form of a debate where there was no right or wrong answer. The assessors were looking for how we interact in a group discussion and how we come up with original ideas. It is important to listen and let others speak as well as getting your own ideas across.

We also completed two in class tests, one numerical reasoning test and one logical reasoning test. We were all quite drained at the end of the day so were thrilled to be able to use the hotel’s gym and pool facilities. We were treated to a networking dinner where we had the opportunity to meet current EDF Energy employees on the graduate scheme who shared their experience of working for the company.
A couple of weeks later, I couldn’t believe it when I was told that I had been selected as one of the ten finalists, I had made it through yet another hurdle. I was invited to the ceremony in Canary Wharf where we enjoyed a champagne reception and a delicious three course meal. We also had the chance to meet industry representatives who shared their career paths. The event was hosted by no other than the broadcasting legend Sir Trevor MacDonald who gave us an inspiring speech. The atmosphere suddenly changed as everyone was excited in anticipation of the announcement of the winners. I was over the moon when my name came up on the screen and Sir Trevor MacDonald called me to the stage. I walked over, shook his hand and received the award. I was very proud to have made it to the end and very excited at the prospect of starting my summer internship.
I spent seven weeks in EDF Energy’s Barnwood office working on various projects. I was delighted to see that some of the finalists also got a summer internship. I was given interesting tasks to complete and felt like I was making a real contribution to the teams I was working for. I even managed to take my projects further and do more than my initial target! My internship gave me an insight into the dynamics of a huge company, how different departments overlap emphasising on the importance of communication and collaboration between teams.
I also spent two weeks working on EDF Energy’s Torness nuclear power station in Scotland. It was amazing to see in real life what I had until then only studied on paper and to see the huge scale of the reactor and all its auxiliary apparatus. It was remarkable to see how all the plant areas were interconnected and highly dependent on each other. I went around plant with various powerful instruments, taking measurements and inspecting equipment. I had a much more hands on experience and even got to enter radioactive controlled areas after completing appropriate training. I was warmly welcome by every team I worked with which made my stay even more enjoyable. Working for EDF Energy over the summer was such an amazing experience , I am grateful to have been given this opportunity.
Here is a beautiful view from Torness Nuclear power station.

I am now looking forward to my other prizes which include a lunch with a station director and a visit to a nuclear power station in France.
My advice to all prospective candidates is to make the most of this opportunity. Even if you don’t win the competition, the whole application process and assessment centre provide excellent experience. It is incredibly useful to go through this recruitment process as it is similar to that of most companies. My whole experience has been exceptionally beneficial; I worked on a range of interesting projects, met inspiring people and expanded my knowledge of the nuclear industry.  I had a wonderful time and look forward to applying to EDF Energy’s graduate scheme.
Celine Dischamps, University of Manchester
Low Carbon Energy Undergraduate of the Year Award 2014

Think this could be you for 2015? Apply now at:

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