National Grid ESO - windmill in field

Time to Talk Day 2021 - our ESO graduates

We’re passionate about inspiring our future engineers and commercial colleagues. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re running our graduate scheme virtually for the first time.

The resulting lockdowns have been tough on all of us. For Time to Talk Day 2021, we spoke to our 2020 graduate cohort about how they’re finding remote working and the ongoing restrictions.

How are you finding the ESO graduate scheme?

Ben – it’s definitely different to what I expected because it’s all been virtual so far, apart from three days of in-person training. Usually we’d all be face to face and receiving training over several weeks in a residential setting. It’s helped to have such a supportive manager and that 121’s work well over Teams allowing me to expand my network across the ESO. Time is passing fast, and it’s hard to believe that I’ve been working here for over three months already.

Ruby – As Ben said, regular 121’s have been really helpful. My team has a hub everyday where we can all catch up and a non-work-related meeting on Friday’s which has helped me get to know my team better, despite only ever meeting most of them virtually. We also have a weekly hub where we do a work wellbeing temperature check and say if we’re feeling red, amber or green. If we feel red (frustrated, disengaged, not enabled etc.), we discuss as a team what is causing us to feel unhappy and how we can get back into the green area. I’ve found lockdown tough myself so this a good opportunity to flag on the weekly hub any work or home issues that may be troubling us.

Eleanor –   I'd echo what has already been said about the level of contact and support I’ve received since starting with National Grid ESO. I feel very well integrated in my team and we have regular catch ups to check in with each other.  People are very flexible and try hard to accommodate everyone's needs. If i had a problem and needed support, I'd certainly feel comfortable speaking up to my managers and team members.

Ross – It’s a very accepting team. We speak to each other a lot which helps with working standards and work deadlines.

How’s lockdown for you?

Ben - People often ask how I can start a job virtually without being in the office. I often find myself explaining how I feel lucky to have a job, especially when many of my friends who graduated at the same time as me are finding it so difficult to find jobs at the moment.

Nnaemeka - Our routines have changed now, and I think in a way we’re used to life being different because we’ve been in lockdown so long. People adapt. And as Ben said, I too feel lucky that I have a role. I do wish there was a quicker way out of this pandemic. I sometimes go a couple of days without leaving my house. I’m in Glasgow and it’s very cold and gets darker early. I'm really pleased that the vaccinations are being rolled out and and once lockdown ends, we can get out and about; and meet friends, family and colleagues again.

Ruby - I work in my bedroom so it takes away the place where I’d usually relax. I always put my laptop away in a drawer for the night to make sure I avoid that temptation of checking emails in the evening.

National Grid ESO - 2020 graduates


Ross – I’ve been impressed at how well organised the graduate programme has been. It’s all for them too and they’ve been brilliant at moving everything to virtual sessions. It’s tough for me to compare how the scheme would be managed in normal times but I’ve been working remotely since I joined the ESO.

Eleanor – It's sometimes hard to feel like you are part of a bigger team when you are just working in your room on your own. I'm really grateful for technology though as I've been able to stay relatively well connected with my friends and family as well as my new work colleagues.

What’s next for you all?

Ben – In terms of the graduate scheme, we’ve all just chosen our second placements which we will be starting at the end of March.  This has involved a lot of networking over the past few weeks and has been a difficult decision given the range of placements on offer.

Ross - it’s been super busy and we’re delivering a lot of work now. It’ll be nice when all the projects we’re working on have been delivered.