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Career Options in Energy & Utilities: Student

Mention energy and utilities to any undergraduate and they may well faint in fear of their next gas and electric bill. Energy and utilities may well be the bane of the undergraduate’s life, but the opportunities available to undergraduates in the industry are vast. Even if you don’t want to be researching and creating ideas for new technology, the big energy companies have numerous departments such as marketing and management so there are opportunities for all.

Additionally, there are also opportunities for you to get involved with energy and renewable governmental policy. The government and big businesses are always looking for ways to improve their carbon footprint and if you’re keen on policy making or simply think you could come up with new ideas about how to reduce emissions, you could set and make sure that the public reach targets.

Opportunities available to undergraduates

- Internships and work experience

- University societies

- Year in industry

- Graduate schemes (applications)

- Postgraduate study

Every student, not just those who are considering a career in the energy and utilities industry, should consider applying an internship. What’s that? You don’t want to be a coffee and tea maker all summer? Don’t be daft. Internships have developed over recent years with employers recognising the ability of undergraduates to carry out useful and effective work. Internships in this sector could see you helping scientists or academics research latest technologies or accompanying an engineer to examine faulty network points. Internships are important because they allow you to learn more about a specific job in a very big sector and will allow you to develop your network of contacts so that you have a better opportunity of landing a job when it comes to graduating from university.

University societies are also a great way to develop your experience. Energy efficient societies may not be available at all universities though, but that doesn’t prevent you from setting one up. You can dedicate the society’s aims to aiming to get more students cycling and lobbying the university to reduce their carbon emissions. Being part of a society like this will show employers that you are dedicated and enthusiastic about following a career in this sector and can only work in your favour.

Some degree courses will offer undergraduates the opportunity to spend one year working in industry. Large national companies may be prepared to take on placement students for a year so make sure to keep an eye out for these opportunities. Your university may also have links with companies, giving you a direct advantages that should not be missed out on.

Although the dreaded days of graduate life seem far away, they’ll creep up on you like an unwanted water bill. Large energy companies such as Eon, Npower and British Gas will have a graduate scheme in various departments and with these schemes usually having early deadlines (sometimes as early as November or December), it’s important to get on these early and dedicated a decent amount of time on them to ensure you send in the strongest application possible.

For those wanting to conduct ground-breaking scientific research, postgraduate study could be necessary. Whilst high undergraduate degree achievers may be accepted into an entry level job, more often than not employers will be looking for an individual with a master’s degree and possibly even a doctorate.

Deadlines to consider

Internships and graduate schemes at larger companies will have strict deadlines that will not be flexible. Just like utility bills really. We know it can be tough juggling university work and job applications at the same time (and you haven’t even taken your social life into account), but there’s help available from your university careers service to help you with your application.

Similarly, placements for a year in industry will have to be sorted out well in advance. It’s not helpful if you call British Gas up in the last week of August, hoping to start in September. As the year in industry will be organised as part of your degree, your university will be able to give you regular nudges and reminders, but most of the groundwork will be up you.