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On placement: working in project management at EDF

MEng Chemical Engineering student, Sakshi, spent her year on placement at EDF. Read about her experience of working in the plant integration team.

female student stands facing camera next to an EDF banner that reads 'Nuclear engineering to help Britain achieve net zero'
Chemical Engineering undergraduate, Sakshi worked in project management during her time at EDF.

When I first visited Bath, I found myself in a very encouraging environment. It provided me with ample opportunities alongside the technical experience. I felt that it would allow me to flourish and equip me to achieve my dreams down the line. It is one of the top-ranked universities in the UK for my course subject. Its reputation for placements and the connections with a wide range of companies also meant it would give me good exposure to getting experience before I graduated, helping me to choose my career path.

Building professional relationships in the workplace

I worked in the plant integration team at EDF that looks after the entire scope of the technical directorate. As the project management department, its role is to ensure that stakeholders and delivery personnel are compliant with all the terms and conditions set out in a contract.

I believe the past year of my placement has made a very positive contribution to my overall development. I was consciously able to expand on my interpersonal skills and build on professional relationships and contacts in the workplace. My biggest learning was stakeholder management and dealing with different people in varying situations. This is quite reflective of a wide range of life situations and something I shall be able to use in the future.

I think the assemblance and discipline that working life during my placement has given me shall be of immense value as I enter my final year. I shall be able to plan myself better, handle my time and balance my activities better. Moreover, my confidence in communication, gauging a conversation, speaking in front of people has drastically increased. All of these together will help me much more organised and planned as I finish my degree and apply for jobs.

Preparing for a placement

The placements team staff were very helpful from the start. The regular sessions on developing CVs, and the art of writing a good cover letter helped me understand what companies are looking for. They were very open and quick to give feedback about any written pieces as well. While applying for placement positions, and even during my placement, I was able to organise a few calls with the team. They gave me guidance on handling some situations and helped me decide about my potential career choices. They were always very supportive and having those conversations really encouraged me and helped me orient myself.

It's important for any student planning on taking a placement to do your research beforehand. Learn about the industry you want to go into as it's imperative to have a deep understanding of what role you are going for. And not just for the purposes of the interview but also for your own understanding to see if the role helps you achieve your ultimate goals in learning.

You should have a good idea of what you want to gain from a placement and then apply to positions that fit that. But it's still important to go into the placement process of applying, securing and working with an open mind. It's such an immense learning curve! You won't necessarily get the experience you thought you would but it exposes you to new things and new knowledge you didn't expect or plan. That's why you should go in with an open mind and don't be afraid to ask questions: it will only benefit you in the end.