Claire Madden

Process Engineer, Operations

  • Chemical Engineering
  • Imperial College London
  • Placement Year (10 Months+)
  • BP

What was the interview process like?

Nerve racking (as you’d expect!) but I found the challenge of trying to apply theory from university and problem solving skills to real life situations really interesting. There was a very quick turn-around in response from BP, which I found encouraging.

How much responsibility were you given?

The oil and gas industry presents many hazards and so responsibility on a live site was limited, but the greatest responsibility I found was over my own objectives for the placement. My line manager was happy to invest in opportunities I identified to make my internship a valuable experience.

What advice would you give to someone applying for your role?

Don’t be nervous about not knowing much of the application of theory to the Oil and Gas Industry and be honest when you don’t know the answer to a question in an interview. Explain what you’re thinking and 9 times out of 10 the interviewer will guide you.

“I loved my placements at BP, it gave me an insight into what my future career could be like and enabled me to make some great connections before returning to the company as a graduate.”

What has been your biggest challenge?

The biggest challenge during the internship was considering real life conditions when sizing equipment. I was asked to determine the orifice size required at a facility. There were many other influencing factors to the final size e.g. sand may block the orifice if too small. This judgement comes with experience.

Where has your experience exceeded your expectations?

The people that I encountered really made my internship. Both colleagues in the office and those I met in other offices that gave their time to discuss the job that they did within the company and give advice. This was always given enthusiastically and with genuine interest.

What do you most enjoy about your role?

I can’t pretend the social side of an internship is not good fun – we hired a house with 12 interns all living together. I have great memories of BBQs and nights out together. Getting on a live site was also a highlight and valuable experience for a student.

“The people that I encountered really made my internship. Both colleagues in the office and those I met in other offices that gave their time to discuss the job that they did within the company and give advice.”

Describe a situation where you have surpassed expectations?

Where I probably surpassed my own expectations of myself, and hopefully my line manager’s, was the relationship I managed to establish with the predominantly male Operators. This relationship greatly assisted in the completion of a troubleshooting problem through engaging with Operations.

What is the atmosphere like in your team?

There was a big variety of characters within my team, but each having a lot of knowledge that they were happy to share. I was assigned a mentor that had the time to spend with me that my line manager couldn’t always provide and ensure I felt supported.

What were the activities outside of work?

There were regular sports clubs organised in the evenings and also a couple of dinners held during the 3 months as an opportunity to socialise with other interns. The interns themselves also organised trips to surrounding cities at the weekend to make the most of living in a new area.

How promising are the graduate prospects?

At the end of the internship I had to complete an assessment centre for the opportunity of a graduate role. I was fortunate enough to be offered a role and have been working for BP for the last two years now. Assessment centre success rates tend to be around 50%.

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