The Tale of Chemical Engineering (Part X of I)

This is the tenth instalment in the long-running Tale of Chemical Engineering series. There are nine other posts, all fairly interesting, but the ones you should be reading for this post are VII, VIII and IX.

Previously Parts I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII ,VIII and IX.

In the spring of 2007 I felt the dread of impending doom, that crashing wall of noise that was the end of my time at University. I had spent four years struggling with what I now can seriously classify as depression without even knowing it. I was tired, and stressed out, and unable to cope. One of the failings of my university years wasn't my inability to feel like I knew the subject material, but was that they taught me the academic skills to pass/not fail exams and lab work but failed at teaching me how to cope with the stress of failure and, not unsurprisingly, the stress of being unable to handle the workload.

I remember this feeling of dread lifting like a weighted blanket, like a heavy cloud, the moment after I started working in Aberdeen and I realised that the work stayed in the office. I didn't have to stress at home that when I was socialising and relaxing I should have been revising or working - the overbearing feeling of "supposed to be" was crippling, when I was at university, and shedding that was huge.

Over the past thirteen (!) years, since 2006's summer placement in Grangemouth, I have slowly evolved and catalogued many thoughts on my time as an engineer on this blog (a lot less frequently recently, of course). One strange string of thoughts that I haven't put in these long posts are the jobs that I went for and failed at. Not to blow my own trumpet, but until being made redundant at Wood Group I'd been successful at every single interview I'd been to, bar an internal transfer one to a client-side job at the start of my career.

Whilst there have been a few attempts at jobs I haven't got, there were two major jobs that originally came up though more natural means. When Connie and I moved from Aberdeen to Glasgow we moved with the dog and into a flat. It was the first time I'd lived in Glasgow as an adult, and we explored the city and the surrounding area with Frank a lot, and Connie fell in love with the city (and Shawlands) fairly easily. The one place that she fell head over heels for was Troon.

When we drove away from Troon that first visit she cried. We've been back with friends from Canada, with Frank, with Joni, and then with Etta, many many times. Once, we looked at buying a house there. We discussed at length the commute and the logistics of living there and working... well, not there. Then I remembered GSK at Irvine. I was always aware of the plant - my dad had done a small short stint there at some point - and I'd always thought it was a golden opportunity. I said to Con "I could work there, you know" and she nodded, but then I dismissed this - GSK wouldn't hire me, a lowly designer.

A similar story happened with the Lake District. We went to Keswick on holiday in September 2012 and fell in love - and wanted to live there. So, I suggested I could get a job at Sellafield, half joking - they wouldn't want a lowly Oil and Gas designer, would they? Well they did. We moved there in 2015, and lived there unhappily for almost three years, moving back in 2019. The idea wasn't as good as the reality, and through some footering and nonsense with a new job up in Glasgow, we moved, but in early 2019 I started looking for a new job.

And GSK were hiring, so I applied, and now I work there.

For the third time in my career I've changed sector. It was a push to move from Oil and Gas to Nuclear, but now I've moved into Pharma.

I said in Part IX “Roll On Part X”, which was a joke and also a mild promise. Turns out, four years passes and suddenly everything is, once again, different.

Roll on Part XI, then.