Our guest blog is written by James Grey, who has completed post-graduate study in Economics and Policy of Energy and the Environment, and also has an undergraduate degree in European Social and Political Studies from UCL. He recently completed a Renewable Energy Internship via our partners WEXO, at a company that invest in and manage renewable energy projects throughout the UK.
I didn’t have any concrete career aspirations before attending university beyond a preference for working in policy, hence my undergraduate degree in European Social and Political Studies at UCL. During my time at university, I became more and more interested in the energy and environmental sectors and as such, pursued a postgraduate degree in Economics and Policy of Energy and the Environment, also at UCL. I still had a desire to work in policy but was also open to working more generally within the energy sector.
I was able to organize a fair few internships and work experience placements during my time at university which has certainly enabled me to find work elsewhere. I was also lucky enough to have been offered a job at a consultancy during my final year at university (a graduate scheme) which I accepted. However, my role doesn’t begin for a few months so coming out of university I had 9 months to fill and I wanted to fill it with relevant work experience. I was offered an internship immediately at a large steel producing company as a result of my postgraduate thesis – I interviewed with their head of public affairs who offered me the opportunity to work with them for a couple of months.
After my first internship finished I went about looking for other internship opportunities, mainly looking online. At the same time I worked for a catering company to generate an income. I eventually came across my present internship with a renewable energy company on a site called WEXO for which I applied, interviewed and was subsequently offered the job.
Coming into the job I was told that my work would be varied and that it was difficult for them to pinpoint what exactly I would be doing as new things pop up all the time. They have certainly been true to their word and I have fulfilled various tasks in my time here ranging from standard administrative and research tasks to helping with their various projects and financial modelling. I feel the tasks have been appropriate considering it is a small but dynamic company and have enjoyed the increasing responsibility given to me.
The advice that I would give to other graduates would be:
- Properly research the firm pre-placement as preparation is key.
- Adapt to your environment – different companies have different work practices and social environments so do your best to fit in.
- If you find yourself with nothing to do, ask for work, it’ll only benefit you in the long run.
- Embrace any responsibility given to you, it is a chance for you to impress.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
- Apply for internships! Anything is better than nothing.
As I’ve already mentioned, I am moving to a much larger company in the near future and so comparing the work environment between the two companies will help direct whether I want to work for a larger or smaller firm in the long term.
I have been exposed to a number of different areas within which the company operates and have learnt a great deal about the renewable energy sector. It was great that the internship was paid, and it did influence me more into applying for it as I find the notion of an unpaid internship to be incredibly unfair. My immediate plan is to spend at least 2 years with the firm I am about to join, within their resources & utility departments. In the long term I would like to found and manage my own company. As such, working for such a young company has been an extremely useful experience.