Energy & Utilities is a busy sector which has seen a lot of changes in recent years. Increased threats to the environment mean traditional methods of harnessing energy from natural resources are being reconsidered. Graduates entering the sector have a unique opportunity to fill the creative and scientific gap to drive the battle against climate change forwards by developing sustainable energy sources.
Some of the roles in this sector require applicants to travel, possibly even relocate, in order to work on nuclear plants, offshore oil rigs, or on renewable wind farms. Many of the roles in Energy & Utilities also appear in sectors such as Engineering, Research & Analysis, and the Environmental sector.
Traditional energies include coal, gas and oil, but there are increasingly opportunities for graduates to work developing alternative energies from green sources. Jobs in this sector often required specialist knowledge, and applicants must have a degree, if not a Masters, in the relevant area. Occasionally, some of the larger Energy companies may also have positions available in non-science-based roles such as Bid Management, Sales or Marketing.
How to Get a Job in Energy & Utilities
Graduates are in a unique position to approach the Energy & Utilities sector with new ideas and innovations, but they must still show a core set of skills.
Candidates should display the following:
1. Applicable degree
The Energy & Utilities sector is important, with the potential for big gains and losses. A lot of the work is very technical, and candidates must be able to meet the specifications. Graduates will need to have a strong background in the field in order to be considered for a position, with an undergraduate or Masters degree. For Engineering roles, candidates are advised to have a Bachelor's of Engineering or a Master's of Engineering.
2. Problem solving skills
One of the main skills required for success in this sector is the ability to identify and solve problems. Graduate trainees are often faced with finding solutions to difficulties in the production, harnessing or transportation of energy, and employees want to know that a candidate is capable of assessing and addressing the issues. Graduates should think of examples from university and extracurricular activities where they came up with a solution to a potentially large problem, or when they have taken small steps to avoid a future issue.
3. Understanding of new energies
Changes in the environment and overuse of fossil fuels have resulted in an increase in demand for new and sustainable energies. Many graduates choose to pursue a career in this area, as there are many opportunities for innovative work which has a real impact. Positions in this area require a relevant degree, such as Environmental Engineering, and candidates must be able to demonstrate an in-depth understanding of the systems in question. Graduates wanting to work in this sector should make sure they meet the qualifications, and should show employers that they are committed to a more sustainable future for the industry.
4. Innovative thought
Candidates in this sector must have an in-depth knowledge of the issues at hand, but they must also be able to take their understanding and think creatively to come up with new and innovative ideas. Graduates may want to provide examples of projects they developed or designed at university which address some of the key issues and concerns.
The main route into a career in Energy & Utilities is through the various graduate schemes offered by the larger energy, construction and utility companies. Many of the companies who work with traditional energies such as oil, gas and coal run large internship and vacation programmes which give graduates and students the opportunity to learn how these companies work first-hand. Graduates interested in pursuing a career in these areas should make an effort to gain as much experience as possible.
Energy & utilities Case Studies
We need graduates that are driven, self-motivated and will hit the ground running
The Employer - Sinéad Ryan (Graduate Recruitment Advisor - BP)
Name: Sinéad Ryan
Job Title: Graduate Recruitment Advisor - BP
What competencies do you like to see in candidates?
One of the first things I would advise candidates to do would be to look at our values on the company website. Everything that we look for in graduates and interns is based around competencies that are linked to our values. In addition to that, we want people that are passionate about their discipline and passionate about a career in the Oil and Gas industry. We don't expect graduates to be the finished product when we recruit them, so a drive and a willingness to learn is key.
Can you talk us through the application process?
The first part of the application process is applying online. It is an application based submission, so no CVs. First it will be inputting your minimum criteria, name, email address and things like that. Then your academic background, so we can check you are applying for an appropriate role. I would advise candidates to check the online degree matcher.
We then ask you to fill out a competency based application form, once again around our values. After that we have ten working days to come back to candidates. The next stage is online numeracy and verbal tests. Once those are completed we have three days in which to come back to you. The next stage is a personal interview lasting around 30 to 45 minutes. The telephone interview is based around our competencies and values. Those values are one team, excellence, respect, courage and safety. We allow ourselves two days to reply to you after this.
Then it is a technical interview, the first part is more like a personal interview with a technical bias in talking about previous experience, work placements and their university course and modules. The rest of the technical interview is scenario based, these kind of scenarios will be based around the discipline you have applied for and are designed to mirror the complexities and challenges that we face at BP. The technical interview should give you an insight into the sort of decisions that need to be made in the Oil and Gas industry. We allow ourselves no more than two days to respond to you after that.
Then it is an assessment centre for four hours with a mixture of group work and individual and paired work. This is again linked to our values and we aim to get back to you within 24 hours to let you know our intention to offer a job or not. Our average application to hire is 63 days, including weekends.
What is the most common mistake you see in an application, which leads to candidates being rejected?
The first thing is that you can tell when a candidate has copied and pasted an application from somewhere else. We understand candidates are applying to lots of other places, but I don't want to see how much someone wants to work for one of our competitors. Another reason is not filling in their contact details correctly. We do have great applicants with great application forms but without the correct contact details we can't move them through the process.
On the competency questions, candidates sometimes do not give us enough detail. There is a word count and they should use as much of that as they can because everything is evidence based. Sometimes they use the space to tell us what they think we want to hear and do not answer the question.
Not proofing applications, we get lots with spelling and grammatical errors. We don't screen on it but if someone has made lots of mistakes, it doesn't leave a good impression. Another one is not filling out the whole application form. We appreciate the application form may take some time, but we don't ask any questions that we don't need the evidence for. Likewise, candidates not checking they're appropriate for the role.
What is the main piece of advice you would give a graduate starting your scheme?
Do their research. Make sure they know the company and the area they're applying to. They should ask why they are applying to the Oil and Gas industry. It is quite unique, so graduates need to say why. Likewise, research the company, if someone is applying somewhere along the line we will ask them why BP.
I'd encourage them to think about what they like and how they like to work. I would advise graduates to make a list of what they want from an employer and what they want they want from their career because they are going to be on a graduate scheme for three years at BP. So it is important they have that longevity when they apply.
What's the main challenge graduates face when they start?
If they haven't already worked in the Oil and Gas industry, some of our graduates get a bit worried about it. However, we provide so much training and ease them in gently. They take quite a large amount of responsibility in the projects they undertake so they receive a line manager, a mentor and buddy when they join.
I think sometimes a graduate's expectations can be a bit unrealistic. They haven't got someone sitting on their shoulder anymore telling them what they need to learn and find out. Part of the transition is them learning what they need to be self-sufficient. We need graduates that are driven, self-motivated and will hit the ground running. However they can speak to anyone across departments and people are extremely willing to give up their time to talk to people and help them.
If you weren't a Graduate Recruitment Adviser, what would you be?
Looking back now, after working at BP, I wish I had taken on a STEM subject at university.
The Employee - Amy Dowdeswell (Geoscientist - BP)
Name: Amy Dowdeswell
Job Title: Geoscientist - BP
University: Imperial College London
Course: Petroleum Geoscience MSc
Graduation Year: 2012
How did you find your graduate job in the Energy and Utilities sector?
During my undergraduate there were a couple of petroleum modules but not much. I then did my Master's. You don't need one, but for Geology it makes it a lot easier. I applied through the lengthy application process and finally got the job. I think to get a job at BP, the easiest way in is through the internship programme.
Why do you think you were successful at BP?
I did an internship in Colombia, which lasted a year. I think you need to make sure your application stands out. People have to answer the same questions in the early stages of the application process. So if you can imagine the recruitment team reading the same answers over and over, they want something a bit different.
When it comes to the interview they want you to be good technically, but they also want to know if they could work with you for the next ten years. It pays to be friendly, nice and a good team player. I think the main thing is other people can work with you, that is my opinion.
What do you actually do?
I'm a Geoscientist, I work with Geophysics and Geology. I have just moved into Well Planning and I'm based on a gas field in Azerbaijan. I generate certain things to plan the well, you get given the platform and the target, with the aim to work out how you get your well through the rock and go down to your target and your angle of inclination. Before that, I was in reservoir management, working with reservoir engineers to better understand the subsurface and deplete the field efficiently.
I start at 7:30am and have a meeting every day at 8:30am with the team over in Baku to check what's been going on with the well over the past 24 hours. Then I go about my daily routine, monitoring the reservoir, modelling that and get on with the planning of the well I'm currently working on.
What skills do you need?
You need organisation and time management. These are the biggest skills because you can be doing three or four different projects for different people with different deadlines and you have to show progress each week on all of them. So it is important to make sure each get the attention they deserve. By the time you sit down at your desk, you need to make sure you use the time wisely.
What is the best thing about your job?
You are always learning stuff; there is so much to learn. I find it quite interesting that no one will know everything. The great thing about the graduate programme is that it's three years and you get to try three different roles. So as a Geologist you get to do well delivery, which is what I'm in at the moment, exploration and development and production. Then you can decide, after that which one you like the most to continue with.
And what is the worst thing about your job?
It's the same, you never know everything! There's no time to settle and you can get complacent. Sometimes you can go into a meeting and not be entirely sure what is being discussed so then having to find out. However, there is plenty of support around you.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
At the moment BP has the opportunities to go abroad and I'd like to do that. I'd like to go anywhere. I am going back out to Azerbaijan in November. I think I would like to go down the managerial route, rather than the technical route.
What advice would you give to graduates applying to BP?
Get your application in early. BP recruit on a first come first served basis, they don't wait until they have all the applications in. When you do your application form, like I said before, read your answers back as if you were a recruiter. They must read through hundreds of applications a day so try and stand out from the crowd.
Even if it is something like you represented your university at Ultimate Frisbee or were President of the Cheese Society. Try and get an internship or any work experience, I know it is difficult. BP run a really good internship programme for penultimate year students and then you can get a job offer on successful completion of your internship programme. Even if you can't get on the internship programme, try getting some work experience. Don't worry if it's from Shell or Exxon, they won't hold it against you.
If you want to find out more about graduate jobs with BP, please take a look at their minisite.