Work experience provides significant benefits for individuals both during full time education, and when it comes to securing employment. In my opinion, work experience can:
- Broaden your skill set
- Unlock opportunities
- Enable you to understand what it is you really want to do
- Improve your grades
- Establish new relationships
- Reduce the learning curve associated with your first job
In the current climate, work experience can be difficult to obtain, not only is the market more competitive, but not all companies are receptive to hosting work experience placements, which reduces opportunities for students.
Over the past 3 years, I have been lucky enough to secure work experience with Add Energy, a global consultancy and software business in the energy market, which has broadened my understanding of business and the corporate world.
As I come to the end of my 3rd annual internship, I wanted to reflect on my journey with Add Energy, share the value I have gained through this experience and encourage others to seek industry experience.
What I learned during my summer internships
Going back to my very first placement with Add Energy, in the summer of 2017, it was a steep learning curve in-between just finishing school and starting University. My project goal, set by the Managing Director of the company, was to produce a report on the impacts that Brexit could have on the business, and identify options to mitigate the uncertainty around the possibility of Brexit.
The task in itself was quite daunting since the Brexit vote had only just taken place and very little concrete information was available. But my biggest worry was my lack of technical knowledge, and even more so, needing to ask a million questions to the same set of people who would probably be sick of me quizzing them after the weeks were up. However, this wasn't the case at all. Every member of the team was patient and understanding of my limited knowledge and were happy to help. Making time for me early on is what I think really made the difference, and enabled my confidence to grow. By them sharing as much information and explaining things as simply as possible, it allowed me to carry out my tasks more effectively, as well as improve my analysis skills.
In the summer of 2018 I was then asked to come back to Add Energy to work as a “Contracts Assistant”. My main focus this time round was to contact clients of existing Add Energy Group companies and offer an expansion to their framework agreements to include the services of Add Energy’s Asset & Integrity Management team.
This involved contacting clients directly, which gave me a great sense of trust and responsibility that I feel has been very beneficial to my personal development. Having to speak over the phone improved my confidence enormously and after the first few calls I no longer needed a guide to help me explain what it was that we were offering.
As a secondary role I was applying for awards on behalf of the company, which included helping to write the successful Queens Award application for International Trade.
This year, I was privileged to get more involved in the business development and operations management aspects of the business. One of my personal highlights was attending the “Topsides 2019” event, which was held in Aberdeen and provided a networking and learning platform for operators and service providers in the North Sea Oil and Gas industry.
I attended with Andy Gardiner, Add Energy’s BD Executive, observed how he showcased Add Energy’s services and engaged with attendees in a professional environment. This was a valuable experience in itself because the importance of interpersonal skills is something I think is vital to develop in any industry, and is often a skill that gets overlooked in place of technical knowledge and expertise.
Applying my experience to my studies
I can confidently say that the industry experience I’ve gained across all of my placements has benefited my studies greatly.
Knowing what an ISO 9001 certification is or how a proposal is put together has really helped apply industry knowledge into my work, which I credit to my success in achieving the class certificate for “outstanding performance” in my project management module. And now after being able to use Office 365 more effectively I’ve definitely saved time on coursework, things which I’ve only had the chance to learn because of the need for more technical input and the use of programs more frequently.
In addition to this, my presenting skills have sharpened with a variety of meetings, ranging from quick progress updates to pitching a completely new market to senior members of the company.
An internship can be seen as something of a stepping stone to help improve your chances of securing a graduate level job post University, however I believe it can be so much more than that if the right attitude is shared between the employer and the intern.
There needs to be benefits for both parties, which relies heavily on trust and a desire to get the most out of the opportunities thrown your way. I am forever grateful to the opportunities Add Energy have given me and I hope that the value I’ve gained from my experiences at least equal that of the value I’ve added to their operations.