Careers PlatformAre you dreaming of an international career in the oil industry? Then a trainee programme could be a great start for you.
Many young graduates would like to work abroad after finishing their studies, but without work experience, they don’t exactly get to take their pick of international job offers. A trainee programme in an international company with Norwegian operations could be the solution.
“You learn a lot about other cultures, but also about yourself, about Norway and about Norwegians by working abroad for a period. It is a valuable experience”, thinks Katrine Osa (29), who finished her trainee period with the oil and gas company Wintershall in January this year. Now she is employed in the company’s offices in Bergen.
Educational on many levels
Katrine Osa had just finished her Master’s degree in geoscience at the University of Bergen when she joined the international trainee programme SPEAD. The programme focuses on drilling technology, geology, oil and gas production. As a trainee, she has worked in Kassel in Germany and Rijswijk in the Netherlands. She has also worked in two trainee locations in Norway, namely Stavanger and Bergen.
“During the trainee period, I got to know the company really well, improved my specialist skills and made friends from all over the world. I also got better at adapting to new things and became more open-minded”, she says.
What do you think was the most challenging thing?
“Being away from my friends, family and Norway’s nature. And six months in each location is not very long. You just get to grips with a new environment and new technical challenges, and then you move on to the next location”.
Positive cultural differences
Wintershall is Germany’s largest oil and gas company. Which means that a stay in Germany is more or less obligatory for international trainees.
Did you notice a big difference between working in Germany compared with Norway?
“Yes, more than I had thought before I went. It is more formal and hierarchical, and there are different approaches to how you work and collaborate. For example, in Norway we are used to having most of the responsibility for our own education, which brings more flexibility and freedom. For me, a new graduate with no experience, I found it positive that in Germany you get more specific duties from day one. My mentor and manager also kept a close eye on me and got very involved”, she explains.
Bisan El-Fseis (25) is a drilling engineer and one of the other Norwegian trainees in SPEAD. He became a SPEAD trainee after taking his Master’s in Well Engineering at the University of Stavanger, and has been part of the programme for one year. During this period, he has worked in Stavanger, in The Hague in the Netherlands, and at various locations in Germany. As a trainee, he alternates working onshore and offshore.
“The programme is designed to help you learn by performing relevant tasks. For me, since I have specialised in drilling wells, this means that I will be part of a rig and monitor drilling operations”.
What is the most important thing the trainee period has taught you?
“I have learned a lot about the industry, and the work that is needed for drilling wells. As a young graduate, new to the industry, the learning curve has been steep. The chance to work in different locations outside of Norway has also shown me that things can be done differently. Even if a lot of things are similar, they can still be differences in drilling a well in Norway, compared with the Netherlands or Germany”.
As a trainee, he was monitored by a team whose head office was in Kassel in Germany. “They are involved in designing the programme and our individual schemes. When you are sent to work in a location, you are then assigned a mentor. The mentor acts as a contact person, guide and boss while you are in that location. When you move around so often, which you do in the SPEAD programme, it is important that you are closely monitored when you are posted somewhere”, explains Bisan El-Fseis.
The trainees have a steep learning curve, and they have a lot to do during some periods.
“You spent quite a few days of the year travelling, and I am not at home very often. But I think that it is great to experience and learn something new all the time”.
Would you like an international career when you have finished as a trainee?
“Yes, I think it would be very exciting and educational to work internationally, and as a bonus you get to experience new countries and cultures”.
Subsea engineer David Johansen (29) also wants to focus on an international career in Wintershall.
“Actually, it is something you should be wanting when you apply to the SPEAD programme. The experiences you get on and off the job when you are posted abroad are well worth having. I would like to build on my technical experience, and also enjoy exciting experiences and improve my language skills”, he says.
David Johansen had already worked offshore as a service technician before he took a Master’s degree in offshore, marine and subsea technology at the University of Stavanger. He has been a SPEAD trainee since January 2016, and has worked with land-based gas storage and oil extraction in Kassel in Germany. Now he lives in Stavanger and commutes to a project in Scotland on a weekly basis.
What do you think is important for success as a trainee in an international trainee programme?
“My experience is that you get the best learning experience by exposure on the job. This means that it is important to have a positive attitude, be sociable and make good use of your time by learning from your colleagues”.
Facts about the SPEAD programme
- International trainee programme in the oil company Wintershall.
- The programme focuses on drilling technology, oil and gas production, geology and reservoir technology.
- SPEAD lasts for 24 months. During this period, the candidates work in at least two locations.
- The programme consists of practical work experience combined with a selection of technical courses.
- The candidates are monitored by experienced managers, mentors and programme coordinators.
Starting new programmes in January 2018
Wintershall has two international trainee programmes. Both will start in January next year.
SPEAD is a 24 month programme which focuses on drilling technology, oil and gas production, geology, geophysics, petrophysics and reservoir technology. START is an 18 month training programme for finance, IT, information management, acquisitions and procurement.
“During the trainee programme, the participants acquire detailed knowledge about our activities and they are given responsibility for their own projects. They also become part of a young environment which has a strong focus on team building, self-development and specialist seminars”, says Torunn Øyan, who is an HR Business Partner in Wintershall.
Will you be recruiting for both the SPEAD and START programmes this year?
“Yes, both programmes will start in January 2018. For the SPEAD programme, we will recruit 12–15 young graduates, and the deadline for applications is in April 2017. The deadline for applications for the START programme is July 2017, and we are aiming to recruit 4 candidates”, says Øyan.
Wintershall is Germany’s largest oil and gas group. Internationally, they have more than 2,000 employees from 50 nations. In Norway, the number of employees has increased to 500, since Wintershall became established in Norway in 2006. The company’s Norwegian head office is in Stavanger, and its operations office is in Bergen.