Jessica Cliff

I graduated in July 2017 with MSci Physics and joined the year-long EDF Energy Graduate Scheme in September 2017. The graduate scheme consisted of a series of placements around the company in technical offices and at the nuclear power stations. The graduate scheme streaming process allowed me to decide which part of the company I wanted to join and after a series of interviews I received the offer for my permanent position as a Reactor Physics and Criticality Engineer.

I work for the Hinkley Point C project and am currently on secondment to Generation's central technical office. I work in the Criticality Safety team where I perform assessments to ensure that the fuel remains safely subcritical when it's outside the reactor. 

Get involved with activities outside of your degree! It will give you a more full and rounded experience and will also help give you a full CV for when you're applying for jobs.

What is the best thing about what you are doing now? 
My job allows me to continue using the Physics skills and knowledge gained from my degree with a real-world impact. I get to learn a huge amount from the more technical Reactor Physics to how to the plant works at station. I enjoy knowing that through my work, I'm helping to improve the safety of our stations and am able to make decisions that have practical implications. 

What motivates you?
I enjoy having a job that I find interesting where there's always more challenges and more to learn. I am motivated by the fact that my work allows me to contribute to the safe design of our current and future nuclear power stations, which helps the environment as a low-carbon energy source.

Why did you originally apply to Birmingham?
I'm from the West Midlands and love Birmingham as a city. I went to several open days before applying and Birmingham had the Physics department that ticked most boxes for me. I liked the atmosphere in the Physics department and how passionate the lecturers were about their research. I also liked the range of optional modules which allowed me to chose the areas of Physics I liked the most.

What are your fondest memories of the University?
I really enjoyed getting involved with clubs and societies. I was a member of the Gymnastics and Trampolining club and was able to compete for the University on several occasions and also helped out by coaching. I joined Poynting Physical Society and had a good time at the events they put on for Physicists, including their annual quiz! 

How did you grow as a person by coming to University? Did it change your life in any way? 
University helped me to gain more independence and I've made friends for life by living with some of my course-mates. Uni gave me the confidence to try new sports and societies as well as a variety of Physics option modules, rather than playing it safe and staying with what I know. 

What did you think of the learning experience within the University?
Having a strong fundamental understanding of Physics has been very helpful as I have a technical role. I discovered my liking for Nuclear Physics at University when I took a number of modules in the discipline including Nuclear Laboratory and Fission & Fusion. My Master's project with the Nuclear Physics Group was a great way to gain experience of taking a project from concept to completion.

What inspired you most during your time as a student?
The friendships I made at University are invaluable. Having close friends in both my course as well as in sports clubs and societies meant I was able to share the whole university experience with others! 

What advice would you give to current students? 
Get involved with activities outside of your degree! It will give you a more full and rounded experience and will also help give you a full CV for when you're applying for jobs.