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How to turn your hobby into a career

Posted October 05, 2020

Did you know that the things you love doing most could be just as valued in the workplace? Many hobbies or skills that we develop through our favourite pastimes can be applied in the workplace. The trick is finding a connection between the two – and being able to talk about this with employers.

The good news is we’ve done the hard work for you. Take a look below at five different hobbies and how they relate to roles at HPC. It’s time to think outside the box about what you enjoy doing – and perhaps identify skills you didn’t know you have along the way.

1. From doer-upper to pipefitter

Are you one of life’s fixers? Are you the one that members of your family turn to when they need someone to put flatpack furniture together? To work out where a leak’s coming from? Or to customise a dirt bike? These are exactly the kind of skills that pipefitters need.

In a nutshell, pipefitters install industrial pipework, valves and pumps in factories, shops, offices and large buildings, like power stations. Day-to-day tasks can involve making or modifying parts in a workshop. Assembling components ready for installation. Finding and fixing faults. Or responding to emergency call-outs.

To become a pipefitter, you need to be able to work well with your hands and use, repair and maintain machinery and tools. Being able to co-operate effectively with others, solve problems and pay attention to detail are among the core skills required for the job. You’ll also need some knowledge of building and construction, and engineering science and technology.

You can do a college course in engineering, welding or plumbing and heating. Or complete an engineering pipefitter apprenticeship and study while you work.

Find out more about pipefitting on the National Careers Service.

2. From working out to cable pulling

Are you a regular gym-goer? Would you rather be pumping iron than chilling at home with Netflix? If your happy place is honing those abs and biceps to perfection, then a desk job probably isn’t for you. Instead, why not use your love of weight-lifting by choosing an active role like cable pulling?

A cable puller is responsible for pushing and pulling cables for electrical and telecommunications systems through floors, walls, and ductwork. At HPC, cable pullers work across projects including plant, communications and electronics. So your workplace could be anywhere across the site, making it a varied and interesting role.

A cable puller’s main duties include measuring, cutting and bending wire, cable and conduit. The cables may run up to several thousand feet in large projects. And cable pullers must be able to climb ladders and carry up to 50 pounds of cable in the process – which is where all that weight-lifting comes in handy!

It also helps if you’re good at communicating and listening. And have good knowledge of safety equipment and precautions, as well as electrical equipment.

Many cable pullers learn their craft through on-the-job training or apprenticeships. And cable pulling can be a good stepping stone to becoming a qualified electrician. 

3. From machine repairer to mechanical engineer

Are you fascinated by how machines work? Do you spend your evenings and weekends in the garage tinkering with old cars and bikes? Or perhaps you love building your own model mechanical railways, airplanes and rockets from scratch.

If the thought of repairing a fault with a car engine gets you searching on YouTube with glee, then a career as a mechanical engineer could be perfect for you. Mechanical engineers develop and design the components and machinery used in manufacturing, construction and other industries. 

Choosing a career in mechanical engineering could see you working on components and equipment for many industries including power, transport and water. The job involves using computer-aided design/modelling software. Presenting designs to managers and clients. Measuring the performance of mechanical components, devices and engines. And maintaining and modifying equipment.

If your favourite subjects are maths and physics – you’re in luck, as knowledge of these core subjects – plus engineering and technology – are important. You’ll also need design and analytical thinking skills. Not to mention the ability to think creatively and come up with new ways of doing things, when you’re struggling to fix a piece of equipment.

There are routes into this profession for both school leavers and university graduates. If you’re a school leaver, you could study for an HND in mechanical engineering or complete a manufacturing engineer degree apprenticeship. Graduates need a degree in a relevant subject, such as mechanical, automotive or aeronautical or manufacturing engineering.

Find out more on the National Careers Service.

4. From circuit builder to electrical engineering technician

Are you a leftie? Not left-handed, but a left-brained person who loves logic. You might be a sudoku addict who enjoys solving maths problems and puzzles. Or someone who’d rather spend time on an app that improves your memory, concentration and processing speed than posting selfies on Instagram. 

Maybe you were the one at school who took building a simple circuit for your science project to the next level? All of these skills are relevant to a career in electrical engineering. 

Electrical engineering technicians install, commission, maintain and repair equipment and controls. They also calibrate, inspect and test equipment and machinery to make sure it works correctly and safely. 

Technicians can start via an electrical engineering apprenticeship or take a college course in subjects including electrical installation skills, engineering technology, and electronic engineering.

The job could take you into lots of different workplaces. For example, you might work with power generation and transmission at a site like HPC, installing turbines, switch gear, power lines and lighting networks.

Find out more on the National Careers Service. Or if you’re interested in a related career, take a look at EDF’s engineering maintenance apprenticeship

5. From army cadet to heating and ventilation engineer

Are you an army cadet? Do you spend your spare time taking part in adventurous activities, like rock climbing, mountain biking and hiking expeditions? Can you comfortably navigate yourself out of the middle of nowhere with a map and a compass? Or cope with a mock ambush situation?

All those skills you pick up as a cadet – like the ability to make decisions under pressure – are exactly what you need to make it as a heating and ventilation engineer.

Heating and ventilation engineers install and service heating and air conditioning in large buildings, like factories, schools and hospitals. For example, you might be a heating installer, fitting heating equipment and pipework systems. Or a service engineer, planning and carrying out regular maintenance and repairs.

It’s a job that requires persistence and determination, plenty of patience, and the ability to use your initiative and remain calm in stressful situations. You’ll also need knowledge of building and construction. And the ability to use, repair and maintain machines and tools. Most people start with an apprenticeship from school or college and train on the job.

Find out more on the National Careers Service.

What’s coming up at HPC?

These are just some of the many different job roles available at HPC for young people looking for an exciting career. And the opportunities don’t just stop at construction – there’s everything on site from catering to cleaning, security to site operations, administration to access control, and finance and project management. 

And as HPC moves into the next phase of construction, we’ll be creating 1,200 new jobs and 300 apprentice roles. So there will be a massive recruitment drive for enthusiastic and capable young people – like you – over the next few years. They will become part of the 4,000 strong workforce fitting all the electrical systems, cables and pipes at HPC.

This phase is known as the MEH phase (Mechanical, Electrical and HVAC – heating, ventilation and air conditioning). The work is being delivered by the MEH Alliance, a joint venture created by EDF and its contractors Altrad, Balfour Beatty Bailey, Cavendish Nuclear and Doosan Babcock. And this innovative approach will help the different contractors deliver the complex installation of cabling and pipework in the power station’s 2,500 rooms.

Read more about the MEH Alliance and jobs involved in the next phase of development.

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