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Spotlight: Hannah McCombs, Nucleargraduates Programme Member

Tell us a fun fact about yourself

I am a huge Taylor Swift fan and was fortunate enough to meet her when I was 15 years old! Music is my favourite way to destress and in my spare time I play guitar and love to go to concerts.

Tell us about your career journey so far

I was incredibly indecisive when it came to deciding on my career path, and it wasn’t until university that I realised what my interests were. At school, I did A levels in chemistry, physics and maths. I enjoyed science at school, and decided to study natural sciences at Cambridge, where I eventually specialised in Chemistry. A big reason why I liked my course was being able to decide later which part of science I wanted my degree to specialise in! Several weeks ago, I have just started my first placement on the nucleargraduates scheme, and I am excited to use my chemistry knowledge in the nuclear industry!

What was your favourite subject in school and why?

I think (despite studying chemistry at university!) maths was my favourite subject at school! There was something so incredibly satisfying about problem solving independently and pushing myself to try harder questions set by my teacher. I liked the rewarding feeling of getting to the end of a difficult question. I also liked collaborating with my classmates when I didn’t understand something and taking through different methods of solving the same question. It turns out that the skill learned in a maths classroom are incredibly relevant in everyday life, as there is always more than one right way to approach problems!

What subjects/qualifications are useful in your role?

On the nucleargraduates scheme there are many disciplines that the industry needs! The nuclear sector is aging and are looking for graduates to take over when those in the profession retire. For me, I use my time management skills to handle my workload alongside my responsibilities on the scheme, which includes setting up a small business and volunteering with young people.

What is your favourite thing about your job?

I like that I get to shape my own development plan and decide how I best want to spend my time on the graduate scheme. It is very personal and allows for me to be in the driver’s seat. I get to choose my placements and it leads to a real sense of achievement when your team has successes. The community atmosphere on the scheme is also incredibly friendly.

What is a normal day in your role like?

I have just started on my scheme- so I’ll admit I can’t talk too much about what a ‘typical’ day is like, however I can give you a rough idea. In the nuclear industry, a major problem is that nuclear power plants were not designed to be stopped one day when they are no longer operating any further. My team provides technical support to the labs that are figuring out ways to safely empty out the reactors and ensuring that the dangerous fuel is handled safely.

And what does your job title mean?

Being a nucleargraduate is the ultimate crash course into the nuclear industry. We have a set of compulsory training modules which range from technical courses to project management. As a chemistry nuclergraduate, I am starting my journey towards being chartered in a couple of years, so my time on the scheme will be spent working towards achieving my goals.

Suggest an activity that could be done at home that illustrates an aspect of your work?

The advantages and disadvantages of nuclear power, and what the components of a nuclear power plant are:


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