Case studies

Megan Dougan, Trainee Engineer – Networks

Prior to applying for the trainee engineer programme I was still in school and working part-time as a waitress. In my 6th year at school I decided to take higher physics since I really enjoyed maths. It was during my 6th year that I decided I would like to go into engineering since my strengths lay in maths and physics. I applied to various university courses and also the trainee engineer programme. I received various university offers but the programme was always my first choice as I didn’t want to go to university full time, and the thought of being able to study and work full time seemed like such a good opportunity. The idea of going away for university was also appealing to me.

Honestly, I didn’t know what type of career I wanted to end up in before applying for the programme. I just knew I wanted to go into a job or university course that involved engineering. The only thing I was concerned over with pursuing a career in engineering was that it was a highly male dominated area, especially within electrical engineering. However, it didn’t stop me from applying; I would say it made me more determined.

Currently I am still in the trainee engineer programme and there are many things that I have enjoyed. Not one day on the programme is the same, especially when out on placement with all the different business areas. Going away for university was also a highlight for me, despite the amount of work required to pass the exams.

In our first year we go on 3 different placements with the craftsmen; linesmen, jointers and fitters. These placements are extremely useful as you get an understanding of the work that actually physically happens. Also, you are able to start building up your electrical knowledge and relate certain things back to what you are learning at university. In second year, your placements are with engineers from all the different departments in the depot. The time spent with each business area in second year is extremely valuable. You begin to get an appreciation for what you will be doing following successful completion of the programme. Also in second year you begin to get more responsibility.

The most challenging thing about the programme is balancing a full time job and a full time foundation degree at university. Lots of time and dedication needs to be put into the university work. The university course is not easy, it is difficult, however it is not impossible.

I would definitely recommend the programme to anybody interested in electrical engineering. And to any applicants applying, I would say you are making an excellent choice but don’t expect it to be an easy three years, there are lots of highlights about the programme, however it does require lots of work and dedication. Also, I would say that there are so many opportunities for the future by doing this programme, therefore you must make the most of it.

As it stands, I am not sure where I see myself in 5/10 years. I would like to think I will be well on my way to becoming an experienced engineer. However, at this early stage it is hard to decide what business area or part of the company I would want to work for as I am still learning and discovering where my strengths and weaknesses lie but my final year on programme will help cement my future career plans.

Darren Chalmers, Trainee Engineer , Wholesale

Prior to applying, I was a Joiner looking to retrain as an Engineer as this was a subject which had always interested me, especially Renewable Energy. I studied a HND in Engineering Systems at Perth College. I learned about the programme from my college lecturer and was advised to apply. Only after looking into the position did I realise it was in Renewables, and I just knew I had to apply for it.

I always knew I wanted to be an Engineer and that I was interested in a career within Renewables. I wasn’t entirely sure which field I preferred but after joining the programme I have had an opportunity to work in different areas of Engineering within the business which has helped me choose the right career path for me.

Whilst on programme I worked alongside the Hydro Maintenance Engineers, getting involved with routine maintenance within hydro stations and dealing with faults when they occurred. During my first year I spent my placements with the Electrical and Mechanical Fitters, gaining familiarisation and an understanding of hydro sites.

Throughout my second and third year I gained more office based experience with the Engineers, taking on small projects under supervision, which was increased to larger projects once my experience and confidence increased.

The Trainee Engineer Programme was challenging but being able to work and study at the same time is a great opportunity. There were some occasions when it got really tough having to manage my work/study time with personal life. As I have studied and worked prior to starting the programme I was aware of what was ahead of me but the University course within the programme was intense and required a lot more dedication than I had initially anticipated. Ultimately the hardest thing for me was leaving my Son for three weeks at a time when going to University, but the end result has given me the opportunity to have an exciting future and I really appreciate what I did on the programme to get to the end result.

If you are thinking of joining the Trainee Engineer Programme just give it your all, show dedication and be motivated in your work and you will be fine. Remain positive when things get tough and by the end of the programme you will be a more developed individual, and you will appreciate the opportunity you have been given.

I am presently about to progress my career within SSE and move onto Real Time Systems support. This is something I am very much looking forward to and hopefully I will become an established Engineer and an asset to SSE.