Making a Bold Career Change | How One Woman Swapped Languages For Nuclear Reactors

author profile picture

by Rebekah Valero-Lee on



Making a bold career change can seem daunting, but Kim Vignitchouk is part of a growing trend of people who are turning their back on established careers in order to pursue a lifelong passion within a completely new industry.

More than 10 years ago Kim made the move from linguistics and translation into the nuclear renaissance. Having lived and worked in China from 1988 – 1997 and fluent in Mandarin, it was time to pursue a career change and explore her real interest and passion, science, to which Kim then began studying a Physics degree at the Open University.

Kim explains: “I always dreamed of one day becoming a scientist and I loved Physics at school. Unfortunately it was a career path that my parents weren’t keen on and they pushed me in the opposite direction.

“After a successful career in linguistics and translation, I just thought enough was enough. Enrolling with the Open University helped me to connect back with everything that I loved when I was younger. I never dreamed at that point that I’d be able to build a new career and instead, was gaining a Physics degree just for me.”

Now a contractor for Horizon Nuclear Power, Kim is part of a team in the UK and Japan helping to drive forward the new £10bn power station, comprising two nuclear reactors, at Wylfa Newydd in Anglesey. Adjacent to the former Magnox Wylfa Power Station, which is currently being decommissioned, the new nuclear power station will employ around 9,000 people at the peak of construction and once complete, generate around 2,700 megawatts of electricity – enough to power around five million homes.

Having further upskilled her nuclear knowledge with a masters in Radiation and Environmental Protection, Kim is now working as an RP (radiation protection) engineer, where a typical day includes researching, reviewing and writing technical documents, answering technical queries and liaising with other engineers and contractors across civil, mechanical and chemical specialisms.

Kim explains: “It’s our job to make sure that the nuclear power plant is being designed and built to UK and international standards so that it’s fully compliant and safe for people and the environment.

“Nuclear is such an exciting and rewarding sector to work in, but there’s still a big misunderstanding in what a nuclear power plant actually does. The link between civil and military nuclear programmes also should be better managed as many people wrongly think they are one and the same.

“There always seem to be a negative portrayal of nuclear power plants from the media as well, which leads to a negative public perception. Instead, we should be more transparent in showcasing what exciting careers the nuclear industry has to offer.”

Kim has never struggled to find a role, even after previously being made redundant. Within the nuclear industry, there is no lack of exciting opportunities. New build programmes deliver a spectrum of roles across engineering, chemistry, environment and physics, which are also highly relevant for the decommissioning and maintenance of nuclear sites. Kim’s specific skillset in radiation and environmental protection is in huge demand across a number of sectors and careers, including medical, radiography and isotope generation for cancer care, which meant that she had already received a job offer before completing her masters.

Kim continues: “Gaining my degree and masters were both career highlights as it completely changed my career direction and led me to where I am today.

“I’m a firm believer in that you can achieve anything you set your mind to. Juggling a freelance interpreter career with my studies at the Open University wasn’t without its challenges and even at this time, my parents were still asking me when was I going to concentrate on a full-time job? Unfortunately they both passed away before I graduated, but they would have been so proud in where I am today.

“My advice to anyone regardless of their age or gender is to pursue your passion, do what you want to do and don’t listen to anyone else.

“Nuclear is a pretty hardcore industry but there are so many exciting pathways that can lead you to a very rewarding career, including apprenticeships and the university route. All you need to succeed is to work hard and be passionate about what you do.”

Are you looking for a career change? Search hundreds of jobs here, or to learn more about adult apprenticeships with our training division visit www.morson.com/mvt.


Cx Jobs

Security Associate/Administrator

A Security Associate is required to work for our client BAE Systems in Barrow-in-Furness. The purpose of the role will be to execute routine security responsibilities for the assigned workstream in order to protect BAE Systems, its people, infrastructure, information and assets, as well as the interests of its shareholders and customers, and to fulfill regulatory and legal obligations. Duties will involve; - Coordinate and carry out security tasks based on relevant policies, standards, procedures and best practices of the assigned workstream. - Respond to and maintain records of security incidents, escalating where needed - Provides regular reports on security activities to inform decision making at more senior levels - Support security investigations through the provision of information - Assure the integrity of BAE employees working in the assigned business area by maintaining personnel security and access control processes and procedures. - Provide advice and guidance for the business area on routine security queries - Advise and train others, with support from senior colleagues, in routine security procedures - Support the security culture by raising security awareness among employees in the local area (i.e. through security inductions) and modelling behaviours that demonstrate BAE System The successful applicant will have a good knowledge of relevant security services, e.g. personnel security, information security, cyber and IT security, cryptographic management, asset protection, etc. You will have good understanding of legislation and regulations. You will have experience in interacting and communicating with different levels of seniority and with customers, and ability to exercise tact and diplomacy. Good written and verbal communication skills are required along with a good working knowledge of MS Office applications. An appropriate entry level Security qualification from a certified body, where relevant. You will be able to achieve and maintain required mandated SQEP for nuclear security and safety baselines if required.Morson is acting as an employment business in relation to this vacancy.Administration; filing; e-filing; GDPR; secretarial; data entry; data input; Excel; Word; Outlook; Access; MS Office; booking system; business support; database management; diary management; minute taking; document control; security coordinator; security administrator; security clearance; MOD Morson is acting as an employment business in relation to this vacancy.

FPGA Engineer

FPGA Design Engineer 3-6 Months Contract Dorset *Dorchester* (DT2) £X0.00 P/H LTD Job Description A technology and defence (maritime) organisation are looking to add a FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) engineer to the team in Dorset, the successful candidate will be joining the team with to develop programmable logic design solutions, to high functional integrity levels. The successful FPGA Design Engineer will have the following responsibilities * Translate customer requirements into a firmware specification. * Create feasible preliminary architectures from the firmware specifications. * Carry out detailed implementation of RTL, constrained Place and Route and timing closure. * Derive verification plans to address design requirements. * Prepare related test cases to verify that the implemented design meets the requirements. * Design and utilise both unit level and BFM style verification test benches to exercise RTL. * Produce accurate written documentation to fully support the design for both internal and external customers. The successful FPGA Design Engineer should have the following skills & attributes * Proficiency in the use of a simulation tool e.g. ModelSim, Active-HDL, * Proficient in the use of Vendor design tools such as Xilinx Vivado or Altera Quartus Prime * Design and delivery of digital systems targeted at Programmable Logic Devices * IP Block design and Delivery * FPGA Verification using Self-Checking Testbenches * Producing high quality behavioural models FPGA Design Engineer £50.00 P/H 6 Months Contract Dorset (DT2) ADDITIONAL WE SEEK A FPGA ENGINEER WHO HAS WORKED IN A MILITARY / DEFENCE ENVIRONMENT / INDUSTRY WITHIN THE LAST 12 MONTHS OR WHO IS CAPABLE OF OBTAINING SECURITY CLEARANCE (SC LEVEL MINIMUM) FPGA Design Engineer 6 Months Contract Dorset *Dorchester* (DT2) £50.00 P/H Job Description A technology and defence (maritime) organisation are looking to add a FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) engineer to the team in Dorset, the successful candidate will be joining the team with to develop programmable logic design solutions, to high functional integrity levels. The successful FPGA Design Engineer will have the following responsibilities * Translate customer requirements into a firmware specification. * Create feasible preliminary architectures from the firmware specifications. * Carry out detailed implementation of RTL, constrained Place and Route and timing closure. * Derive verification plans to address design requirements. * Prepare related test cases to verify that the implemented design meets the requirements. * Design and utilise both unit level and BFM style verification test benches to exercise RTL. * Produce accurate written documentation to fully support the design for both internal and external customers. The successful FPGA Design Engineer should have the following skills & attributes * Proficiency in the use of a simulation tool e.g. ModelSim, Active-HDL, * Proficient in the use of Vendor design tools such as Xilinx Vivado or Altera Quartus Prime * Design and delivery of digital systems targeted at Programmable Logic Devices * IP Block design and Delivery * FPGA Verification using Self-Checking Testbenches * Producing high quality behavioural models FPGA Design Engineer £50.00 P/H 6 Months Contract Dorset (DT2) ADDITIONAL WE SEEK A FPGA ENGINEER WHO HAS WORKED IN A MILITARY / DEFENCE ENVIRONMENT / INDUSTRY WITHIN THE LAST 12 MONTHS OR WHO IS CAPABLE OF OBTAINING SECURITY CLEARANCE (SC LEVEL MINIMUM)

Electrical Mate

ELECTRICAL MATES - NEWCASTLE CITY CENTRE - THE SPARK BUILDING - 5 MONTH CONTRACTOur client are a leading M&E Contractor that specialise in commercial projects across the UK. They currently require the services of Electrical Mates to start on their new build, high rise commercial project in Newcastle City Centre. Candidates are required to have ECS, PPE and previous experience across commercial projects.For more information, please contact Scarlet Wilson on 01617071516.

Electrical Production Operative

Production Operatives (Electrical) - Sherburn-in-Elmet - £10.53 P/H - Immediate StartAre you the kind of person that thrives on working in a high-performance environment, where every day is new and challenging, and you will have the opportunity to change communities across the Country?Here at Legal & General Modular Homes, our vision is to make the housing market fairer for all.We design, manufacture, construct and install high quality, precision-engineered homes in dry, controlled conditions. Our 555,000 sq ft factory in Yorkshire (Europes largest) has the capacity to produce up to 3,500 affordable, sustainable homes per year, creating progressive careers across multiple disciplines.Due to the rapid expansion of our world class facility, we are now recruiting further talented production colleagues to join this truly unique opportunity. In our fantastic Modular Academy, we will give you all the required training to be the very best in your role, including learning new skills in Modern Methods of Construction!We set the bar high at L&G Modular Homes! We only welcome new colleagues that can demonstrate the following:High performingStrong work ethicFull agility & flexibility to performIntegrityPromote an inclusive & great working environmentWe want you to join and champion our core values of collaboration, straightforward, Cost & Value, purposeful & continuous improvement. These are the building blocks (no pun intended!) of how we operate as a business.We are specifically seeking candidates who enjoy manual work and have experience in any of the following areas: Assembly, tiling, stud & dry lining, tape & fill, painting, joinery, plumbing, electrical, basic DIY or general construction skills.We want to show the world what we can do, and we enjoy doing it!**We are looking for a number of colleagues to start in our facility throughout all of 2021. Although we are currently operating a day shift - we will be moving to a shift pattern and all applicants need to be flexible around an early & late shift.**Due to the location of this role we require people who would be able to drive/walk or cycle to site. All colleagues that join L&G Modular Homes are subject to background screening including DBS check.Interested? We look forward to hearing from you!COVID-19The health & safety of all of our colleagues is our number one priority. We have strict social distancing measures on site and it is currently mandatory to wear a face mask in all areas.L&G Modular Homes is an equal opportunity employer. All employment decisions are based on business requirements, job needs and individual qualifications relevant to the role and are not influenced by age, colour, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin or disability status.For more information on this role, please contact Scarlet Wilson 01617071516.

Austin Distel Va Opp86kf Q Unsplash

Advertisement