I remember vividly back in 2012 when I was looking at the Dream Placement leaflet that was in my school reception, I logged on to the CfLP website, clicked the link not realising from this exact moment the door opened to what is an absolute dream career for me. The Year prior I was awarded St Benedict’s Engineer of the Year which was something I was incredibly proud of, I knew Engineering was a subject I enjoyed and realised from a very early age it was a career I wanted to choose especially in west Cumbria with so many different opportunities.
Filling in the application for Dream Placement was simple, I just listed all the things I was passionate about and wrote about my career aspirations. I remember getting the note to say my application had reached and passed the selection stage where the invite to attend the first selection grouping at Energus arrived in the post and then the fear that came over me knowing that I was going to be put up against many of my peer group. I had never attended such an event and to be honest I just wasn’t expecting the enthusiasm and engagement that those that attended gave. To witness so many senior business executives and leading businesses that I had only heard of in the same place was just awe inspiring. I remember the short interview, I was so nervous but yet the nerves soon disappeared and adrenalin took over, I think back and although the interview was only a approx. 30 minutes long It felt like only a few seconds.
Then out of the blue I was told the NNL (National Nuclear Laboratory) wanted me and offered a lucrative 5-day work placement, I had never initially heard of the NNL but realised quickly that they were a major Nuclear player and very much alive and kicking in West Cumbria, I literally had to pinch myself, what an absolute brilliant opportunity at such a young age.
The work experience week morning arrived all suited and booted, to embark on a Dream Placement with one of the UK’s if not the world’s most leading influencer for Nuclear Energy. My Dream Placement week consisted of exploring the company’s facilities across Cumbria, and gave me the chance to spend the time with NNL’s directors which I seen as a brilliant networking opportunity.
I also spent time in executive meetings and met other apprentices and graduates from all areas throughout the week. The placement gave me an in depth understanding of what the NNL achieves, I realised that a career within NNL would be life changing so I set out the task of finding an apprenticeship to give me the building blocks of a good career within the nuclear industry and engineering.
After the week had finished I was invited to tell my story to all other Dream Placement students, parents and employers, there I was stood in front of over 200 people at ENERGUS presenting my week, my experience and also a snap shot of what I had learnt. Paul Howarth NNL’s CEO was beside me which gave me a huge lift.
A personal note was: “Ben, you have really impressed me and my colleagues this week, well done, I would personally like to offer you a training apprenticeship in Mechanical Engineering working for NNL”
At that exact moment was the start of my dream career, all thanks to Centre for Leadership Performance and Dream Placement. Almost 6 years on I am now a fully qualified mechanical craftsperson working in a multi disciplinary team. The NNL have fully supported me in the past years funding for my HNC/HND and higher nuclear technician apprenticeship.
The next stage in my career is moving onto a BEng honours degree which I am currently studying for at the newly opened national college for nuclear. I believe even more opportunity will come working for NNL. I feel that the dream placement opened many doors for me at the age of 16 and looking back was definitely a worth while program. It’s been a tough journey though, so much study, reading, college work, exams and the demands of the role itself but there has not been a day when I have not enjoyed it.