As a guest writer to the DYW Orkney blog, Alex Stevenson explains his reasons for undertaking an internship last summer and how it benefitted him.
At an early stage of my course I decided that I wanted to get some work experience. I believe that a university degree only covers part of what it takes to become an engineer, to be truly ready for a ‘real life job’ (as us students call it!) you have to get out there and experience it.
However, acquiring a placement is a lot easier said than done. The application processes which I went through saw me apply to 12 separate companies, attend interviews and complete examinations. These processes are often gruelling, especially alongside studying, but as companies usually look to hire students who are successful it can be expected of them to want the best.
The application process for NOV’s internship was much more straight-forward than others. After submitting my CV and taking part in a phone interview it was less than a week before I was offered the place on Flotta.
My first day was about two weeks after hearing the good news. I was shown the safety video and assigned an ID badge by terminal security then sent up to the office. After a couple of quick tours around engineering and ecotoxicology it wasn’t long before I was stuck into work.
Throughout my time at NOV I was able to take part in a few projects. My highlight was being allowed to plan and execute some research on coalescing technologies, this project was used as a way for me to get to grips with how the office runs projects. Following on from this project I was required to help with another on-going project which was using the equipment I had been testing. I provided recommendations on how the future tests should be run, helped with the set-up and did some of the testing too.
The experience which I gained from my summer’s work has provided me with my final year dissertation topic, increased my confidence for future work in industry and allowed me to network with many new helpful contacts for the future. The hard work which I put into the summer was recognised by my colleagues and managers and I was grateful for any feedback which I received, good or bad!
From NOV’s perspective my placement was also a success. Research was completed on technology which they were not able to free up staff to perform, projects were run faster with more people helping and maintenance on existing plant was able to be performed. After such a brilliant summer I am hopeful that next summer I will be able to return to continue where I left off.
Mark Seator, who was Alex’s supervisor at NOV, explains here the benefits to their business in taking on a summer placement:
Every year it is one of our goals as a significant employer in Orkney to take on a summer student. The reasons are twofold, firstly to assist with our workload over the holiday period and secondly to promote our company amongst young people in Orkney.
As we are located on Flotta our presence within the community is very low and the vast majority of Orcadians have no idea who we are or what we do. This is something that we must change, as the future of the company will rely on young professionals joining the team. Unsurprisingly, we have found that living in Orkney can be a challenge for employees if they are not from here, or not used with an island lifestyle. Therefore, we are always keen to see what home grown talent is on our doorstep.
Over the last 10+ years we’ve taken on a summer student every year apart from the last two years, and that has been a direct effect of the oil industry downturn. To date, every placement has been a success, the students have been enthusiastic and willing to learn and develop new skills.
After employing Alex, a few of our projects were delayed, therefore we were able to provide him with a small internal Research & Development project. He grasped the concept of the technology and the methodology for conducting the work in very little time, which was a credit to his attitude and abilities. On one of Alex’s last weeks we got him to present his project to the Engineering team and we were impressed by the professionalism of his work. So much so, we got him to represent it to Management and Technology experts within NOV.
Providing the industry remains steady, we will look to employ another student in 2019 and continue the promotion of our company and the Oil Industry with young people in Orkney.
Alex Stevenson is currently in his fourth year, studying MEng Mechanical and Offshore Engineering at Robert Gordon University. During his summer holidays in 2018, he undertook and internship with National Oilwell Varco (NOV) at their site on Flotta.