A good reaction: chemical engineering in the UK


International engineering graduates looking for work and a global energy company’s graduate scheme – read on to learn how EURES bridges the gap to find a solution which pleases everyone. When Portuguese student Sonia Martins, 24, completed her MSc in Chemical Engineering in Porto, she was left wondering what her next move would be, and, equally importantly, where she wanted it to take place. Having completed a two-month summer course in Norway in 2007 which complemented her studies, after her exams she thought “why not go abroad again?”

Her original search targeted Germany and the Netherlands as she wanted to see what kind of jobs were available in these traditional engineering centres. Then, in February 2008, she came across a EURES advertisement in a Portuguese newspaper advertising for chemical engineers. Sonia didn’t waste any time and immediately sent off the filled-out application form to EURES UK. “It was very simple indeed – and I soon heard back from Susan Oyston, my EURES Adviser in the UK, asking for my CV.”

In May 2008 Sonia was invited to the UK for an interview with Doosan Babcock, a global energy company with which EURES UK has an ongoing collaboration: “I knew that I must have done quite well when I was contacted the next day to ask for my certificates! A week later a formal job offer was made, which I accepted immediately.” In August Sonia moved to Crawley in the south of England to start on the Doosan Babcock graduate scheme. The programme is a two-year scheme during which time Sonia will experience working in each of the company’s departments. For a further two years she will then specialise in her chosen sector. “It’s great: I will work on a range of projects, from research and development to sales and marketing, and when we’re ‘on-site’ this could be anywhere in the world where we have a plant, from South Africa to Brazil.”

Sonia is really enjoying life in the UK, where she has met lots of interesting people from all over the world. “My graduate colleagues include four fellow Portuguese, and others from England, Nepal, India and Iran to name but a few – and I‘m living with people from France and Zimbabwe.” Sonia is also becoming acquainted with the local cuisine: “Fish and chips are okay, but not every day!” Unlike many people who are shocked by the weather in Britain, Sonia is coping with it very well. “It’s true that it does rain quite a lot here but I come from the north of Portugal and the weather there is not so different. However, the living costs are higher than at home – but being so near London on the train is a real bonus so this is not a big problem.”

Sonia has so far worked in processes and performance examining the processes involved in energy production, as well as in sales and marketing where she has been familiarising herself with the company’s marketing strategy. “I’m learning a lot and am very glad that I saw the EURES advertisement in the paper that day. I’m not sure which department I’d like to specialise in – in fact I think the trouble will be narrowing it down. For the next four years I know where I will be, and it’s nice to know that, thanks to budget airlines, friends and family are just a flight away.”

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