Irene Khoo – Well Site Operations Engineer
Irene Khoo, a Graduate Well Site Operations Engineer based in Perth Australia, describes herself as relaxed, committed and conscientious. She shares her experience in the Shell assessed internship.
How did your 12 week assessed internship with Shell give you an insight into Shell as an organisation, the culture, projects and type of work ?
Prior to my internship with Shell, I had had no exposure to petroleum engineering or to the oil and gas industry and had thought that my career path was headed in a different direction. However, my internship exposed me to the industry, Shell’s culture and organisation and the scope of work that Shell undertakes.
The experience and knowledge I gained was all very new to me and it was very challenging in the beginning but I quickly developed a support network that continued through my final year of university and into my graduate programme. I would not only attribute this to the great people that I worked with but also to the culture that Shell promotes; where people help each other out because we’re not working as individuals but as a team to achieve the greater goal.
What type of work did you do during your internship; did you have a specific project?
During my internship I was given a specific project to work on throughout my 12 weeks with set clear deliverables. I found this type of internship setup beneficial to my development than what I had been exposed to previously because I was able to focus on a main goal and develop an in depth understanding of what I was working on.
The project wasn’t just dreamt up by my manager to ‘keep me busy’ for 12 weeks but it was work that needed to be completed for the overall larger project and had clear impacts on the execution of the larger project. The project tested my abilities and kept me on my toes; which is what I was seeking in my internship experience.
How would you describe your experience of the Shell internship? What would you say to students thinking about an internship with Shell?
My experience with the Shell internship was very rewarding and challenging. I learnt a lot, not only in terms of technical knowledge, but I also improved on other skills such as leadership, stakeholder management and communication. Admittedly, the internship felt a bit overwhelming in the beginning; however between my manager, mentors and others in my
team, I was quickly able to overcome this feeling. The other interns were also a great support, even though we weren’t in the same team or working on similar projects, I managed to develop long lasting friendships with a lot of these people.
If you’re thinking about an internship with Shell, I would highly recommend it. The amount of knowledge and experience that is available to you within your team and the wider Shell company is priceless.
However, be prepared for the work to be challenging, but know there are always people around you or people who you can contact that are happy to help with any questions you might have.
Another important aspect is that the internship is one of the pathways into the graduate programme. It isn’t a guaranteed position but it does allow you and the company to get to know each other. This knowledge can really help you when you’re making the important decision of your future job/career in your final year of university. You may or may not find Shell to be a good fit for you but it is important to have this knowledge, rather than to go into your graduate applications blind.
How did your assessed internship prepare you for your career and how did it feel knowing you had secured a graduate position well before your graduation date?
The internship really prepared me for my career because it gave me a taste of what it was like to work in the oil and gas industry and for such a large company. I went into my final year of university with my eyes open as to what I wanted to do in the future and the type of company that I wanted to work for.
It was definitely a relief to have had secured a graduate position early, especially with my thesis project in my final year. Since I didn’t have to worry about ongoing applications, tests and interviews, it gave me the time and space to focus on my thesis project and commit myself completely to it.
Having had the opportunity to experience Shell through an internship, do you think this provided you with an advantage when starting the graduate programme?
Coming into the graduate programme after having completed an internship with Shell was definitely an advantage. I had already bypassed the initial awkward first few days where you are unsure and are still meeting and getting to know people.
Returning to the same team and knowing most of the people there was like seeing old friends and catching up. In some ways it was as if I’d never left and it made the transition smooth and hassle free. It also made setting up and communicating with people a lot easier as I was already familiar with the Shell systems and abbreviations used.
Describe what makes Shell’s Assessed Internship programme unique?
The main aspect that made Shell’s internship programme unique from other internships I have done was that I was given real responsibility. I had a project that I was responsible for from start to end. There were clear goals and deliverables and a lot was expected, but nothing that wasn’t achievable in the 12 weeks. In addition, working for a global company meant that I had stakeholders from all over the world providing me with additional experience of dealing with people of different backgrounds and cultures.
Why should today’s students apply for an internship with Shell?
You should apply for an internship, as it provides you with an opportunity to learn about the industry and the company. It’s also an opportunity to develop your network, knowledge and skills. There are many internships available but I think Shell’s internship is good because of the responsibility you’re given and the similarity between the level and type of work you do as an intern and what you do as a graduate. The internship with Shell was a good representation of what it’s like to be a graduate.
What can students expect in the various stages of the assessed internship?
The internship itself has one main assessment at the end of the internship where you are asked to present your project. In between then and starting as an intern, there is also a mid- internship review where you will have a formal progress check with your mentor and line manager. In reality, you will be interacting with your line manager and mentor on a regular basis and be giving them more frequent updates and receiving feedback. You’ll be assigned a buddy when you start and they are there to help you get settled and become familiar with Shell’s systems.
From the internship you can expect to be challenged, but also get a lot of support from those around you, as long as you’re prepared to ask for any help that you need, as your team can’t help you if they don’t know that you need help.
What is some of your advice to students applying to internships, and how would you encourage them to put their best foot forward?
The best advice I can give to students applying for internships is to be yourself; it sounds cliché, trust me I know! However, it really is important in your applications and interview to show the company and interviewer who you are, not who you think you need to be. Don’t come up with answers that you think the interviewer wants to hear as they have most likely heard the same, or similar answer many times before and will be able to see right through it.
For your application, keep your resume and answers relevant to the job you are applying for and in your interview, show that you are enthusiastic and prepared to learn; because no one knows everything.
Any final words of advice for students considering an internship?
The Shell internship or any internship will be beneficial to your future job prospects. The more experience you gain, the more employable you are. The job market is a tough place but you shouldn’t become discouraged if you don’t happen to get that internship that you really wanted. Be proactive; call the interviewer back if you’ve been rejected and ask them how you can improve. Ask the people around you to help you refine your resume and practice interview questions with them. Anything worth having isn’t going to come easy so keep trying and you’ll get there in the end.
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