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Insights An amazing way to explore my career interests hands on

Hi, I'm Salma, Graduate Environmental Engineer in the Nuclear New Build Environment & Waste team at AtkinsRéalis. Although I finished studying Environmental Biology last year, when I started my placement, I was doing a BSc (Hons) in Environmental Biology.

At the time, I was interested in a career in an environmental and, or biologically related field.

Photo of Salma smiling towards the camera

The perfect placement for me

It helped me to apply knowledge from my degree into an entirely new field, nuclear & power. During my three months at AtkinsRéalis, I was able to form my own opinions on nuclear energy as a viable low carbon resource. The summer placement experience allowed me to apply newly-learned skills and knowledge into my final year of university, which I otherwise would not have gained.

AtkinsRéalis helped me with my commute.

The company had sent me on a secondment to Horizon Nuclear Power located in Gloucester for a few weeks. As I had no car, I was worried about travel. However, AtkinsRéalis provided a free daily shuttle service from Bristol to the company – this helped me considerably, especially being a student!

I was really pleased with how much knowledge I came away with

Over the 12 weeks, quickly got to grips with the design basics of many types of nuclear reactors, and generally how different waste materials produced from nuclear plants are handled in different countries.

Having been seconded to Horizon Nuclear Power for a few weeks, I learnt how to interact with the client and represent the company at the same time. I also learnt the importance of recognizing cultural differences through mutual collaboration, as many meetings were scheduled with designers from Japan.

My time also involved creating reports on radioactive waste fluxes from similar reactors worldwide. And I also reviewed fault studies that looked at how we mitigate against any hazards that pose a risk to a nuclear plant.

My proudest day on placement...

Towards the end of my placement, I got to present all the work I did to my team and received encouraging feedback from them. Presenting showed me just how far I'd come in the last three months. And it significantly increased my confidence in speaking to a large group.

Trusted to get on with it

Most of the work was unsupervised, but getting the help I needed was easy. The team promotes collaboration and sharing knowledge.

Supporting me outside of work

I had to switch accommodation in the middle of my placement. While having free transport really helped, it was also great having my line manager's advice as I searched for somewhere to live. He helped me look at the best places to live in Bristol, and got hold of a handy bus route map for me.

A great balance of working on my own and with support

Most of the work that I could handle was unsupervised. However, my team members always let me know when they were available to help me. When the work involved more technical knowledge than I had, people always took the time to explain certain systems and guided me through the work. When seconded to the client site, there was always someone from my team available at the site too, providing general support and ensuring my well-being.

How my placement helped me launch my career

I was offered a graduate job in the same team I did my placement with. As I enjoyed working in the consultant nuclear field and already felt a valued member of my team, I accepted the position. And now, I'm a Graduate Environmental Engineer in the New Build Waste & Environment team.

What I enjoyed most on placement

I gained new knowledge about the nuclear and energy sector, picked up valuable life skills and met some great people within my team. I also felt that my work and well-being were valued by each team member. Working at AtkinsRéalis showed me that there will always be different, interesting types of work to choose from. Supported by the option to work flexibly, I also learnt discipline around time management, a skill I needed to complete my dissertation.

Discover more about Placement Roles at AtkinsRéalis.