Sharon Goymer, Resourcing Manager at National Grid, is involved in the selection process for the company’s Engineer Training Programme – their Sponsored Degree. She spoke to us to provide you with some inside information on the kind of school leavers they look for and top tips for your application to become one of their future engineers…
What is the first thing you notice about any application for a Sponsored Degree in engineering?
The A-level subjects and grades are very important to us because of our minimum academic requirements. For our Engineer Training Programme candidates need to have two A-levels/A2 at Grades A*-C (one must be in either Maths, Physics or Engineering).
Degree candidates are unlikely to have extensive engineering experience at this stage. How can they demonstrate their passion for the subject despite this?
Some candidates don’t have any engineering experience but have demonstrated their passion for the subject by getting involved in projects at school or college or in their spare time they like to take things apart and fix them. Some have hobbies i.e. motor bikes or help their family around the house with DIY or maintenance on the car.
Why does National Grid offer Sponsored Degrees? How large a hand do you have in designing the degree programme?
The Engineer Training Programme was established to develop and grow our own engineering talent for the future.
National Grid has developed the foundation degree with Aston University and the HNC with West Cheshire College so that it is specific for our needs and provides individuals with the technical knowledge they need to be successful in their role at the end of the development programme.
What skills indicate that a candidate would make a good engineer?
A good candidate will typically have a balance of strong academic performance along with practical hands-on capability. They will be able to demonstrate a passion for engineering and will be involved with projects at school or college and enjoy taking things apart and fixing them. They will have hobbies that have an engineering focus and will participate in DIY and car or bike maintenance. They will ultimately enjoy problem solving.
What three qualities do all successful Sponsored Degree engineering students have in common?
Firstly, a real passion for engineering. They all have talents in problem solving, and they enjoy practical hobbies that have an engineering focus i.e. DIY or car/bike maintenance.
How would you describe the recipe for a perfect Sponsored Degree application for engineering?
Strong academic performance, team working capability, and enjoyment of problem solving and decision making, practically minded and a love of taking thing apart and fixing them.
What is the most common mistake you see on engineering applications?
Candidates who don’t have the minimum academic qualifications for the role. Also, on the application form we deliberately ask questions to help candidates to stand out from the crowd and in some instances there are only minimal responses.
Do you have any examples of particularly bad applications? What made them so bad? How can candidates avoid doing this themselves?
Sometimes candidates don’t actually answer the question that is being asked. They don’t provide any evidence of their passion for engineering or motivations for joining the energy sector or National Grid. They only put minimal responses to questions or hardly complete any information at all, so they don’t help themselves to stand out whatsoever.
Do you have any examples of particularly memorable positive applications? What made them stand out?
The best applications come from individuals who have gone out of their way to secure work experience i.e. have had a paper round from a young age and have held that role for several years working early in the morning before going to school, for example, those who have been involved in volunteering in their local community or as a carer for a family member.
Candidates who play sport on a regular basis or compete at local or county level and provide information of their training schedule can also stand out, or those who take on responsibility early in their lives, i.e. prefect at school or a sports captain etc.
Alongside this, top candidates are the ones who have taken the time to research the industry and put as much information as they can onto the application form.
Think you fit the bill? You can check out more on Sponsored Degree opportunities with National Grid here!
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