Are you thinking of getting in to the highly competitive Energy sector? This post could help! Our Careers Consultant, Venita Girvan, offers her tips for success.
The energy sector provides the framework for our daily infrastructure needs, from power to heat, the developed world as we know it would cease to function without it.
It is an essential sector for growth and development and as the global population now exceeds 7billion people, the demand for a reliable and efficient energy supply has never been greater. There are a number of established and innovative industries within it.
These industries include:
- The petroleum industry, including gas companies e.g. Shell & BP;
- The gas industry e.g. British Gas & EDF energy;
- The electrical power industry, including electricity generation and electric power distribution e.g. Npower & the National grid;
- The coal industry e.g Coalfield resources PLC;
- The nuclear power industry e.g. Horizon Nuclear Power;
- The renewable energy industry e.g SSE & RES Group.
Within any of the above industries, there is the potential to work in a variety of career areas. These include:
- Project management;
- Multi-discipline design;
- Geotechnical engineering, including GIS and geomatic surveying;
- Building surveying;
- Asset engineering and inspection;
- Environmental consultancy;
- Energy related consultancy services
Due to the size and scale of many energy companies there is also the potential for career opportunities within additional areas such as energy trading, accounting and finance, human resources, commercial development, marketing and public relations.
This sector is continuing to expand in the UK and in turn there are hopes for further investment from international organisations. “In the pursuit of long-term commercial opportunities across the global energy sector, the UK stands out as a compelling proposition for international companies and investors alike.” (Inward Investment Report 2012/13)
According to High Fliers 2013, “an estimated 35% of this year’s graduate vacancies in the oil and energy sector will be filled by applicants who have already worked for the employer as an undergraduate.”
Therefore like most sectors, work experience within the energy industry is extremely important. Many of the big organisations linked to this sector are well known (as mentioned above) and offer industrial placements and internship opportunities to students. These opportunities are advertised early though (usually in October) so it is important that you apply to them in good time. There are also opportunities available in some of the smaller organisations so you could also target these. Check out our vacancies system for relevant opportunities.
As opportunities within this sector are extremely competitive, it is important to develop your network. Seek out opportunities to speak to potential individuals within this sector through attendance at events organised by professional bodies or come along to our careers fairs and network with potential employers. Also social media is a potential opportunity for networking and is a huge area for this sector. You can join relevant LinkedIn groups and contribute to conversations that are of interest to you. As well as this, make sure to ‘like’ relevant groups on Facebook and follow companies or relevant individuals on Twitter. Do make contact with them to keep up to date with their news and information.
Also make the most of Leeds Alumni who have entered this sector. You can check out all the contacts by accessing the Leeds Network and search for individuals in the relevant profession. Most alumni are keen to hear from prospective students and offer their advice about entering this discipline.
Skills and attributes
Communication, interpersonal skills and an interest in the sector are all important. As well as this, the working hours within this sector can be very long so employers will be looking for individuals who are committed to a project and can show determination. Being able to work to deadlines will also be important.
Whilst working on certain projects your management and leadership skills are essential. This is an extremely dynamic industry so you must be capable of keeping on top of things and work well with your team members to ensure projects are completed successfully and on time.
It is important that you keep up to date with developments and news topics relevant to this sector as there are constant expansions. Here are some useful websites for you to check out and keep an eye on:
- The Energy section of the Guardian newspaper has lots of relevant and topical issues.
- The Energy Institute is the professional body for the energy industry.
- The Energy and Utilities section on Prospects gives a further overview of this sector in the UK.
- The Careers Centre website has information and further resources on Energy/Exploration/Extraction, Energy Engineer and Energy Manager.
- TargetJobs website has an overview of the Energy (power generation) sector and the Energy (oil and gas) sector.
- Energy & Utility Skills – sector skills council for gas, power, waste management and water industries.
Remember, you can also drop in to see us to discuss any aspect of your career planning, Monday-Friday, 9am-4pm!