Energy route for social science graduates

It may not be the conventional career path psychology students would think of when applying for their first job, but the energy sector can offer a multitude of opportunities for those graduating in social sciences.

One company forging ahead of the rest, supporting students in their final year and raising awareness of the possibilities in the energy industry, is behavioural change consultancy Optimus Seventh Generation.

For the past three years Optimus Seventh Generation has been offering work placements to a final year student studying psychology at the University of Aberdeen. Lasting throughout the academic year, the placement is a one-day a week paid work experience, with the possibility that it could lead to a full time position within the company.

The placement provides valuable experience and allows the student to get to grips with all of the systems and processes that are used in real life situations.

Employing their psychology degree in such environments are Carlene Smith, implementation consultant and team lead and Marie Harvey, project assistant, two University of Aberdeen Alumni who have both earned full time positions at Optimus Seventh Generation through this scheme.

Marie gained part-time experience with Optimus Seventh Generation while in her final year of university, giving her the chance to get involved in almost every area of the business, helping build her skillset to succeed in the future.

Carlene has become the driving force behind the placement programme, due to her own experience when starting her career.

Carlene Smith

After graduating Carlene was left discouraged when applying for jobs, as potential employers were focussed on her previous office experience, of which she had none.
She said: “I wanted to give students the opportunity to gain experience in a career path which isn’t generally thought of by students – at least it never crossed my mind until the opening was presented to me.
“During the placement, the student gets involved in almost everything they can from attending training courses, inputting evaluation forms from these courses and generating reports, to reading logs which our consultants send on a daily basis and learning what information is important and why. Furthermore, they get to speak to people who are graduates, as well as senior members of the organisation and learn about how they got to where they are today.”
Strengthening their relationship with the university, Carlene, along with other Optimus Seventh Generation graduates, have been attending career advice sessions as well as networking events with the university, designed to offer expert advice to current students, allowing them to gain an insight into professional working life.  
“All of the students that are attending the events we go to are about to make some of the biggest decisions of their lives”, she added.

“Many of them won’t be aware of the vast amount of opportunities the energy sector can offer, and the diverse alternative to ‘clinical psychology’, which everyone thinks they are limited to when studying social sciences.
“Raising awareness of how
Optimus can help utilise their degree will give the students more options and possibilities when graduating, something I wish I had been
aware of. The whole team at
Optimus is determined to continue its support for students and help
develop the future generation of


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