Name – Alex Pickering

Degree Studied – Mechanical Engineering Masters, with Year in Industry

University Attended – Brunel University, London

Job Title – Senior Project Engineer, Project Manager

Location of Job – Devonport, Plymouth

Length of Time with Company – 4 years

What interested you in applying for a Babcock Graduate Programme?

I didn’t really know what I wanted to do while I was at university, except that I wanted to be an engineer. I hadn’t considered the defence sector until my Dad, who was in the Royal Navy, suggested I looked into Babcock. The more I read about the graduate scheme the more it excited me. I was also looking for a graduate scheme which didn’t tie me into a specific job role from the outset and Babcock’s engineering graduate scheme lets you “try before you buy” which was really appealing. The idea of working with complex engineering systems in ships and submarines was exciting. The assessment centre was over two days and on the first day we went on a site visit to a ship in refit. I came away from that first day buzzing with excitement; I really wanted to work here!

What has been your most memorable work experience on the Babcock Graduate Programme?

During my graduate placements, I was responsible for managing approximately 500 components which were removed from a ship during a fleet-time support period. Each item had to be tracked off the ship, taken to the appropriate factory department, chased through its overhaul and calibration, and then brought back to the ship. If I had not been able to manage the process correctly, the ship could have been delayed in leaving to return to operations. As a graduate, I was trusted with this task completely; I even got my own van! Through this placement I learned the importance of clear communication in managing tasks, safe release of work, and gained an extensive network of contacts which have been invaluable since leaving the scheme. I finished my placement the week the ship sailed – with all 500 items on board.

What do you most enjoy about your job?

In my current job I manage a significant maintenance package within the Submarine business. I love the challenge of delivering the required maintenance within the highly competitive area of the business, where resources are in constant demand from higher priority projects. I have been responsible for identifying improvements within the department, gaining business and customer approval and driving their implementation. I love the relationships I’ve formed with my customer and with the production centres who worked with me. 18 months after finishing my final placement, I have gained enough experience in my job to apply for Chartership with the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

What ‘top tips’ would you give to a candidate applying for a Graduate programme at Babcock?

Find the things that make you interesting and sell them. If you’re applying for an Engineering Graduate Scheme, everyone else will have similar experiences at university with design challenges, dissertations, and the dreaded team-project. Ask yourself what makes you interesting? What makes you stick out? Don’t be afraid to be passionate about the things you enjoy and be honest. No one is expecting you to be perfect; it’s really valuable to assessors to understand how you dealt with something that didn’t go as planned. Also prepare your answers for assessment centres. Try and take examples from different aspects of your life – course projects, sports clubs, volunteering, and previous jobs – show them you’re a well-rounded person.