Nicola Easton, Graduate Electrical Engineer with BAE Systems Naval Ships

Nicola graduated with an MEng in Electronic & Electrical Engineering with International Study in 2017. She's now a Graduate Electrical Engineering with BAE Systems.

My alarm goes off…

My alarm goes off between 6.30 and 7am each day. I try to start work between 7.30 and 8am, although this isn't always the case! I can start my working day any time before 10am.

Nicola Easton

I’m responsible for…

During my graduate scheme, I'm mainly responsible for my own development. Throughout the two-year scheme, I'm required to carry out various placements within different teams throughout the company. I can choose my placements with regard to what I want from them, so the responsibility is on me to determine how I want to develop over the scheme.

My everyday responsibilities differ depending on the placement. Some have included updating electrical load charts, updating electrical installation documents and policies, updating electrical drawings, conducting load analysis investigations, and being part of on-ship inspections and tests.

I got the job…

Completing summer internships while at University definitely helped secure a graduate role.

In the summer, between my fourth and fifth years of university, I was lucky enough to secure a 12-week internship as an undergraduate electrical engineer with BAE Systems in Glasgow. By completing this internship I was fast-tracked to the assessment centre stage of the recruitment process for the BAE Systems Graduate Development Framework. After attending this assessment centre I was offered the role of a Graduate Electrical Engineer on the scheme which I began in September 2017. 

The careers services run within the department definitely aided in securing a job. I attended assessment centre sessions as well the mock psychometric test sessions which certainly helped when it came to the real thing.

My course prepared me for the working world by…

My course gave me the baseline technical knowledge required for my role. While I might not initially understand all the scope of the work given to me, my course gave me solid foundations to be able to learn and understand work that isn't necessarily completely covered within classes. It prepared me in the sense that it allowed me to get into the way of thinking like an engineer and being able to solve problems given a set amount of information.

My typical day…

Like my responsibilities, my typical day differs depending on placement. My first and third placements were more designed based, so consisted of spending most of my time in the office working on spreadsheets, word documents, and drawings using various drawing packages.

My second placement was more hands-on and I spent a lot of time on board ship taking part in various inspections and tests. The little time I did spend in the office was mainly spent recording findings from work done on board ship.

My most memorable work moment….

My most memorable work moments include attending a ship naming ceremony and watching a ship leave on its maiden voyage. These are most memorable as they give you a sense of what you are working towards, realising that everyone has the same common goal of creating ships that are suitable for use by the Navy.

The best part of my job…

I would say that the best part of my job is being able to apply the knowledge I learned at university to a real-life product, which I'll be able to see being built over the years. I'd say this really gives you a sense that you're working towards something. You can visualise the final outcome, with the bigger picture of the work I'm doing directly helping the Navy.

After work…

I go home and completely switch off from work. This is something I definitely prefer compared to my time at university where I was constantly studying/feeling that I should be studying! I'm free to enjoy my time after work to relax, socialise and take part in different hobbies without the worry that I should be working or studying.

My plan B…

At university, my plan was to secure a job after graduation and, if I'm honest, I didn’t really have a plan B. With completing previous internships I was confident I'd secure some type of graduate role, even if this wasn't with one of my preferred companies.

If I hadn't secured a job after graduation, I possibly would have looked at further study options or tried to get some type of internship/placement to try and get more relevant work experience.

My advice for other students/graduates…

One piece of advice I'd give other students would be to try and secure summer internships as early as possible during their time on the course. These allow you to further understand the theory taught during classes. It gives you a greater understanding of how material taught at university is applied in real working situations.

As well as this understanding, internships give you valuable real-life experience, which is very useful when applying for graduate roles.

Another piece of advice I would give to students/graduates is to use the University Careers Service. Whether this be attending a mock interview session or getting your CV checked. This is a valuable service that will definitely help when applying for internships/graduate roles.