• Question: Is there anything you'd do differently to get where you are right?

    Asked by anon-316865 on 9 Mar 2022.
    • Photo: Alex Headspith

      Alex Headspith answered on 9 Mar 2022:


      Great question, really got me thinking. I think I could honestly say no.

      I was dubious at first about getting an apprenticeship straight out of high school, seems my friends were all going to college. Best decision I ever made though. I’m pretty certain that I wouldn’t be where I am now, or at least not as quickly, if I hadn’t done my apprenticeship with STFC. It’s given me one of a kind opportunities and really allowed me to develop – and it still is! I get to start my degree later this year, all paid for by the organisation and I get paid to go to university.

    • Photo: Samuel Hall

      Samuel Hall answered on 9 Mar 2022:

      Hi kept451tet, a really good question. To get where I am today I have been in jobs that I didn’t enjoy, but I wouldn’t change that. Finding out that a job isn’t the right thing for you is almost as important as finding one that is. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes, they teach you as much, if not more, about where you want to end up then striving for the perfect career path!

    • Photo: Alistair McShee

      Alistair McShee answered on 10 Mar 2022:

      There are definitely different routes I could have taken to end up here; I have friends who took massively different paths within physics at university and have still arrived in very similar roles at the same time – I am lucky in that I’ve enjoyed everything I have done, if not always enjoyed all of it as much as other parts, so in that aspect I am lucky and I certainly wouldn’t change that!

    • Photo: Jamie Smith

      Jamie Smith answered on 10 Mar 2022:

      Hi, thanks for your question!

      I think if I did anything differently I’m not sure I would have ended up here.

      I went to a free lunch event at University to get a free lunch. It just so happens it was a careers event advertising summer placements for industry – including where I am now! If I had made a pack lunch that day, my life would probably be very different.

      Of course there are mistakes I’ve made but it’s only because of those that I’ve been able to learn what I enjoy and what I don’t. Much like a control system (yes I am sneaking science into this) we only correct ourselves by making these errors and learning to come back to where we want to be.

    • Photo: Daisy Shearer

      Daisy Shearer answered on 10 Mar 2022:

      I don’t think so to be honest! I studied physics at uni because I enjoyed it and wanted to see which area of physics I liked the most. From the modules I took and the research experience I had during my placement year, it was clear that I wanted to do research in the field of quantum technologies. I’m glad I tried out lots of different modules during my degree as it allowed me to discover which area truly fascinated me!

    • Photo: Victoria Fawcett

      Victoria Fawcett answered on 10 Mar 2022:

      There are things I would do differently, but in the end I don’t think it would effect where I am right now!
      For example, I did my masters at the University of Warwick, which is a uni quite focused on exoplanet research. Therefore, I did my project in exoplanets. This was really fun, but I realised I didn’t like exoplanets too much, so I did my PhD in quasars.
      If I were to go back in time, I would have instead done my masters at another university to gain more experience, and also have done a project more related to quasars.

      However, it didn’t really matter that I wanted to change fields and I think it gave me more of an all rounded knowledge in astronomy 🙂

      On another note, I was quite shy at uni and so did not take part in as much as I should have! I would have loved to have taken up a sport, or done salsa dancing!

    • Photo: Luke Humphrey

      Luke Humphrey answered on 10 Mar 2022: last edited 10 Mar 2022 10:50 am

      Assuming I knew that UKAEA is where I wanted to be working, the apprentice scheme is MUCH better than the traditional route through university. I work with apprentices who are nearly 10 years younger than me and are already just as competent in my opinion! I’m very jealous and they also are being paid for their degree, rather than accumulating debt.

      I would advise avoiding university altogether if you have a good idea what you want to do, and seek whatever alternative pathways exist unless university is absolutely required (it usually isn’t!). Be aware when you’re seeking advice that many people may have a bias as to what they’d like you to do.

      All that said, I met my partner of 5 years at university, and when I started I wanted to become a physics teacher, and only decided to do my current job in my final year. It’s important to understand that life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.

      My advice would be to get comfortable changing your mind, and finding new directions in the moment. You will look back and see better ways to get where you are, but if you take the straightforward route for its own sake, you might not end up where you want to be.

      One way to help with this at school is to do the subjects you enjoy, and not feel pressured to specialise earlier than you’re comfortable. I did History, Maths, and Physics at A-level – the people in maths and physics told me I was wasting my time with history and vice versa. I strongly disagree that a diverse education is a problem!

    • Photo: Lucy Lawrence

      Lucy Lawrence answered on 14 Mar 2022:

      I’d like to say no… but there is always room for improvement! I could’ve worked harder in school, I could’ve researched roles better when I was younger. And you’re already researching jobs by doing this right now. So great job!