Jessica Sanderson

Jessica Sanderson

Why did you want to undertake a year in industry?

A year in industry offers invaluable experience. Utilising the skills you have learnt at university and applying them in real life situations is a skill that comes with experience and cannot be taught. Therefore, taking the opportunity to do this integrated within your degree is very useful for life after university.

What is the name of the company you work for and what do they do?

I work for BAE Systems Naval Ships. They design, build and deliver complex warships and combat systems for the UK and other countries worldwide.

What is your role within the company?

As an Operations Engineer, I oversee the overall production of the ships. My first three months were spent in Production Engineering, where I would troubleshoot engineering problems that arose from the manufacturing shops and the ship. I also looked at potential process improvements considering product quality, safety and delivery. I am currently working on the Australian Export Bid, focusing on evaluating the ship design and making sure it can be built! Over the rest of the year, I will be moving to R&T, investigating new materials and technologies.

What do you enjoy the most about your placement?

What is great about this role is the feeling that you are all working towards one aim – the build of a warship. Although there are thousands of people contributing, you are all one big team and the sense of achievement was very apparent when I saw my first ship – HMS Fourth – leave for sea trial.

Can you give me an insight into a typical day?

I arrive at work at about 7:30, then check my emails and chase up any issues that may have arisen. Every morning, there will be a team meeting where project progress and general issues are discussed. From here, every day is different, depending on what projects I am currently working on. Operations Engineering is very much a people-based role, so I am always running around speaking to different people – whether on the ship, shop floor or in the offices.

Alongside my day-to-day role, I am also able to take part in ‘Stretch Assignments’. These are assignments outside the scope of my job that I choose to take on. For example, working with the Education Outreach Team or Equality in the Workplace networks. This is a great opportunity to network with people from other areas of the business.

What have got out of this experience so far?

Working in a shipyard has been a great experience. I have met lots of people and now understand the complexity of ship building. Over the course of the year, I am hoping to gain greater knowledge of the defence industry as a whole. I am also developing practical responses to solving more complicated problems, incorporating academic and soft skills. I am currently undertaking courses in order to learn how to use the tools implemented in industry.

Do you have any tips and advice for current students thinking of undertaking a year in industry?

If you are considering whether to do a year in industry or not, I would say definitely do one. The skills you will learn over the year will help you greatly when you come to graduating and also in approaching your final year university studies. Upon applying, think about what you would like to get out of your placement and ensure potential companies offer what you want.

Some roles are much more technical and office-based, whereas others require good communication and people skills. You should also do your research about what the placement entails. For example, my placement is on rotation so I will experience four different departments across the year, whereas in others you will remain in the same team.

Finally, remember to ask lots of questions, you will learn more and get much more out of the experience!