Rachel Smyth - Land & Consents Graduate

First, tell us a bit about yourself! What programme did you join at SSE and where are you based? 


My name is Rachel, I am 23 years old, from Glasgow. I joined SSE Renewables as a Graduate Consents Advisor in September 2021.

What did you study at university?

I studied Geography and Sustainable Development at the University of St. Andrews. I started my degree in 2017 and graduated in 2021. 

Which sectors did you consider applying to for your graduate role? What made you choose SSE and the area you are now working in?

I applied to many roles around sustainability and renewable energy. I found there wasn’t many renewable energy graduate roles outside of engineering, so was very pleased to see the SSE graduate program. I chose SSE as it is excelling in the renewable energy industry as a leading developer and making real life changes to tackling the pressing issue of climate change. 

How did you find the recruitment process?  Do you have any advice for students considering applying for the SSE Graduate Programmes?

The recruitment process is lengthy and difficult but not overly different to other companies in the industry. I think it’s very important to go in prepared and do background research. I personally found the testing part the hardest and therefore liked doing the interviews more, as you are able to have a conversation and portray your experience. Although there are a number of stages in the recruitment process, I wouldn’t be put off by this as it is a great learning curve. 

Did you require any adjustments during the selection process?

I received extra time during the testing stage as I have dyslexia and therefore it takes me longer to process information. The team were very good at making sure the right adjustments were put in place and having that extra time really made a difference.

Tell us a bit about your current role?

As a Graduate Consents Advisor, I have had amazing opportunities to work on wind and hydro developments. Some of these are up there with the largest in the world and we are able to join these projects and gain so much knowledge. Consenting is a critical part of renewables, without having consent these wind farm or hydro scheme developments can’t be constructed. I have really enjoyed the site visits and being able to travel to lots of SSER sites across Scotland and attended conferences across the UK. This graduate program is a great way of moving around different placements and projects, gaining insight into lots of different renewable energy developments. 
Are you working towards a professional qualification?

Not yet, however we are hoping to start working towards accreditation as an Environmentalist with IEMA.