Thinking of the bigger picture

Sam Chenery thinks his friends are unrealistic, as they harbour dreams of careers as games designers.

Instead he is adamant: “I‘ve known for a while that I want to be an engineer, ever since my first work experience placement.”

For 17-year-old Sam, spending a week doing air-conditioning maintenance is a dream come true… and he doesn’t care what his mates think.

“They all want to be digital games designers. I think they’ve got their head in the clouds,” he said.

As well as gaining valuable skills in leadership and teamwork, the youngster has managed to pick the exact job he wants with National Grid during his five-day work experience placement at Hinckley.

“I met this guy at the Gas Operations depot at Aylestone Road and I knew his was the job I wanted. He was a first call operative (FCO), the person that gets called out if there is a suspected gas leak, the first port of call if you like,” he said.

Sam has recently completed his AS levels in maths, physics and engineering at Midland Studio College and believes his skills are well suited to a profession in engineering.

He said: “I like problem-solving and physics is my strongest subject. I am really good at the Rubik’s cube as well because I think logically.”

With one year left in further education, Sam has decided on his next steps to get on the career ladder, and added: “I know I am still young, but in the past couple of years I have definitely thought more about how I want to start my career.

“University doesn’t appeal to me. I would much rather get hands-on experience and work my way up somewhere than spend time studying – I would prefer to go out and get a job. I didn’t really know what to expect at National Grid, so I came with an open mind and I have learned loads.”

With no family background in engineering, Sam is grateful to his parents for letting him pick his own path. “My parents encourage me in whatever I want to pursue. It’s nice to have the freedom to make my own choices.”

As an emergency engineer in Gas Operations, an employee is expected to work a range of hours through the day and night in high-pressure situations.

But Sam found that colleagues across the business made time for every student during the placement: “I have got a good impression of the culture and community of people that work here, it seems really supportive but not pushy, relaxed but effective. I think the demand depends on the role, but everyone was really friendly.”

Sam said he knows a lot more about National Grid than he did five days ago and hopes to put his new-found knowledge to good use.

“Before I came to National Grid, I knew it was to do with energy and gas, but I have learned a lot more now, like the different layers and departments needed to keep things running,” he said.