James's story - Engineering Graduate, SSE

In September last year James commenced the SSE Engineering Graduate Scheme, having completed an MEng in Mechanical Engineering at Robert Gordon University. He reflects on what he has learned so far and gives an insight into what the two-year scheme involves.

James Williamson, Engineering Graduate, SSE

Please tell us about yourself and your role at SSE

The Engineering Graduate Scheme spans over 2 years, during which time I’m encouraged to see and experience as much as possible across  the entire Wholesale business and ultimately determine which area of the business I would like to work in. So far, I’ve completed 3 major placements within the scheme

My first placement was within SSE’s Engineering Centre working with HRSG technology across numerous Thermal Power Stations. My second was spent at Bhlaraidh Wind Farm Development Site near Loch Ness supporting the construction and commissioning of 3.45MW onshore wind turbines (which I don’t recommend for those of you afraid of heights). My third and current placement is with the Programs Team, working on hydro generation projects out of Clunie Power Station in Perthshire.

What attracted you to the graduate programme with SSE?

After leaving university I knew that I wanted to work in an environment that would not only support my development towards becoming a chartered engineer but would also allow me to be passionate about my work. I’ve been fortunate to grow up during an exciting time in the energy sector, with the rise of renewable technology and a shift in focus towards greener alternatives. This was something I always wanted to be a part of. SSE stood out to me as a forward thinking company who saw the potential for these new technologies, which was a significant factor in my decision to join the graduate scheme.

What were your first impressions of SSE and have they changed?

Before I started on the graduate scheme I had already completed 2 summer placements at SSE within the Civil O&M team working on maintaining SSE’s Hydro Generation fleet. I found the engineers I worked with to be extremely accommodating, supportive and willing to let me get involved with projects that some may have said I was too inexperienced to contribute anything to.  My opinion of SSE has not changed in the interim.

In all my placements so far I’ve found the engineers I’ve worked with have been not only passionate for there job but also enthusiastic to get me involved and learn more about what they do day to day. i

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve came across since starting the graduate programme?

Day to day, engineers are continuously presented with new and exciting challenges. However, my biggest challenge so far has not been technical. It has been to come to terms with the vast scale of the business and how I can best utilise my new found connections to help my work. SSE’s workforce holds a vast amount of engineering / project management experience which can be drawn up for everyone’s benefit.  

What are your career aspirations?

The benefit of the graduate scheme is that you get to experience a whole range of different engineering roles within the business. Although I have an affinity towards Renewable Programs I am still open to any future opportunities that might present themselves to me within the business (as long as I get to get my hands dirty from time to time).

As a graduate engineer I’m constantly moving between departments within the business so it’s been important for me to build relationships and develop my networking skills as I advance through the company.

And finally, would you recommend it to anyone thinking about joining a graduate scheme?

100% Yes! SSE’s Engineering Graduate Scheme is a fantastic opportunity for any enthusiastic and dedicated young professional looking to get a head start on their career. Whether you already have a preferred career in mind or looking to get out and experience new things, the scheme is there to help guide you through the first years of your career as an engineer.

Find out more about graduate schemes, SSE, or read our other graduate stories. If you are considering applying for a role visit our current vacancies page.