Bienvenu à Paris
This blog tells all about my 5-month Expat Traineeship in Paris with EDF. From integrating into Parisian life in and outside the workplace, travelling around France with EDF and attempting to learn French, it truly was an experience that I’d recommend to anyone.
Immediately after moving in to my apartment in the 6th arrondissement (Saint-Germain-Des-Pres), I felt at ease. The flat provided by EDF was perfect, and the location even better, right in the historical centre of Paris. My first day at work started the following week, allowing me time to get acquainted with Paris. As I already had three English friends from the University of Bath living just down the road, Parisian life got off to a great start. During my first week in the office I was introduced to my mentor and team, briefed on my responsibilities and was given a free pass to EDF’s excellent canteen. I soon became good friends with the six other interns in my department, who I still keep in contact with today. The majority of people spoke excellent English; however, in a group situation, over a long lunch break for example, it become clear that English wouldn’t be spoken. At first that was daunting, however it was a blessing in disguise, forcing me to speak French from day one. Not long after I arrived, the department manager invited me along on their annual trip, which this year involved a two day visit to Normandy.
What sort of work was I doing?
During my time in Paris I was placed in EDF’s Procurement Division (DAPI) in the Procurement Department for Nuclear Engineering working on the Hinkley Point C and Flamanville 3 projects. Luckily, the majority of the work was in English, but the team made every effort to help improve my French when possible, to compliment my 4 hours private French lessons per week. Our team was responsible for managing the procurement process with the suppliers. My main day-to-day tasks were: liaising with suppliers, report documentation of the procurement process, constructing the commercial appendices for the FIDIC contracts and supplier commercial bid analysis. In my final week I was given the opportunity to present my teams procurement paper (in English!) to the HPC Board of Directors. I was nervous, but my attempt gained unanimous approval.
Flamanville 3 site visit
The highlight of my working life at EDF was a trip to Flamanville 3 (FA3). FA3 is the design used for HPC, but only 1 unit is being built at FA3. It is nearing its commissioning phase so the majority of the site looks and is complete. It’s now just a case of putting it all together (maybe I oversimplified that a little). After an overnight stop in Cherbourg, I had an unrestricted 3-hour tour with a very knowledgeable engineering colleague (albeit in French). The highlights for me were seeing the automated control room running tests around the nuclear power station and standing at the very top of the nuclear dome, observing billions of Euros of equipment and millions of man-hours of work. It truly is an astonishing sight, the scale and complexity is overwhelming.
My 5-months working for EDF in Paris couldn’t have more interesting or challenging. I made some lasting connections, started to learn a new language, explored an incredible city/country and developed my professional and technical competencies. My final blog will be about transitioning back to university life as a final year student, au revoir!