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What is your background?

I grew up in Nairn, and studied Mechanical Engineering for five years at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow. I graduated with a MEng in mechanical Engineering with merit in July 2009.

My previous engineering work experience included two summer placements with GunnMacphee & Associates, an engineering consultancy based in Dingwall.

Following graduation, I travelled around the world for several months before returning to look for my first graduate job. I started my Talent Scotland (now ScotGrad) Graduate Placement with AES Ltd in Forres.

Why did you apply to the placement programme?

Having travelled round the world, the Highlands, and in particular my home town of Nairn, is still one of my favourite places. I like the quality of life. Being close to my family and friends is also important.

The placement with AES gave me an opportunity to start my professional career working at a level I want to be at, earning what I feel I should be, whilst living in my home town.

I did not expect to get that kind of opportunity in the Highlands, especially so early in my career.

How have you benefited from the programme?

Being part of a small company has allowed me to see all aspects of what’s involved in running an engineering company, from bottom to top.

I am able to have my ideas heard and take ownership of specific activities and parts of projects.
The best thing is that I have the opportunity to have a lasting impact on the business; this will give me increased confidence and provide great evidence of my ability for future employers.

I will also have more confidence to consider starting my own business at some point in the future, and I would be better equipped with the knowledge and experience to do so successfully.

Any advice for other graduates?

When looking for opportunities and deciding what to apply for, think about what you get from it in the long term. Whilst many graduates, myself included, are naturally attracted to long graduate schemes with large companies, offering high starting salaries, placements like those TalentScotland can offer have the potential to be more beneficial in the long run.

Small companies can often provide greater challenges, the chance to gain exposure to a wide variety of activities and greater opportunities to use your own initiative.