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Charlotte Wilkinson

University of Hull

PhD Physics

The Company;

Skills Learned;

The Big Picture

Charlotte started her role as a Graduate Data Scentist at OREC in January 2020. OREC is the UK’s leading technology and innovation centre for Offshore Renewable Energy and is part of the Humber cluster of renewable energy businesses.

The Application Process

When Charlotte finished her PhD she considered a number of possible job sectors, these included data science (which was recommended by a friend who was already working within the sector), banking and patent law. She made a number of applications for roles within these sectors. However she acknowledged;

“It’s very hard to begin with as a PhD student, a lot of the employers don’t know how to handle you. The application forms aren’t tailored for PhD students….As a PhD student it’s difficult to work out where you fit in the job market, as you have experience from your time studying but you have no actual commercial experience.”

Charlotte found her first graduate role through a recruitment agency, who contacted her about a project manager position, where she worked for a year. She acknowledged that sometimes taking a side step can help you. Her project management experience combined with the technical skills she developed as part of her PhD lead her to be successful when applying for her current role and to ultimately progress in her career.

Set Backs

Charlotte applied for a number of other positions at the same time as her role at ORE.

“Applying for jobs does grind you down, especially when I was first applying because you can get all the way to the interview stage but not get the role.”

Her approach to dealing with unsuccessful applications was to keep moving forward, as turning back was not an option. 

Day to Day

Charlotte has been working remotely for most of the time she’s been employed at OREC, however, she is used to working on software such as Teams due to the majority of her team being based in Glasgow so this hasn’t affected her working relationships.

Her role is very varied, working on the wind benchmarking service, running benchmarks every month and backing up the database. Charlotte also works on creating dashboards (data visualisations) for clients using power bi, carrying out analysis for annual reports (on the offshore wind benchmarking service data) and conducting research into cyber security in the wind sector. More recently she has moved into data engineering where she builds databases and cloud architecture.

Teamwork or Solo

The majority of projects which Charlotte has been involved with, generally require her to work alongside a team of engineers where she acts as the data lead. However, more recently when involved with the cloud architecture projects, she has worked in partnership with a colleague, discussing issues and problems as and when they arise.

The Physics Connection

When asked how much of her physics knowledge Charlotte used in her day to day role she stated:

 “Not enough”

She would like to use more of what she’s learnt from her PhD in her work. Charlotte currently helps with calculations and statistics but would like to increase the amount of analysis she’s required to do and is also keen to have more opportunities to develop her coding skills. Charlotte did state that in terms of other skills she developed whilst at university, the most useful were:

“Probably the presentation side, when working on projects you are needed to present to the rest of the engineering team. So it’s useful to know how to make things visually pretty.”

She also acknowledged that the research and data analysis skills that she acquired through her studies have also proved useful.

Advice

“Keep an open mind, don’t be too fixated on exactly what you want to do as if it doesn’t happen or you can’t get a role in that sector then it can be very demoralising whereas if you keep an open mind you can consider other options. Especially for undergraduates if they don’t like something, they are still young and can try something else.”

The Next Step

Charlotte is about to start a new role as a Data Engineer at Ideal Boilers, the role will provide her with more opportunities to utilise her data analysis skills and allow her to expand her coding knowledge. In the longer term, she is keen to progress into management or even start her own business.