Supporting roles

With so many businesses vying to recruit the brightest new talent, how do graduates choose the right company and position?

Companies offering graduate positions which include training programmes and mentoring schemes are an attractive proposition.

Entry positions offer graduates the opportunity to apply the skills they learned at university to operational projects in their chosen fields, while also being able to learn new techniques and develop their skills.

Towards the end of his Mechanical Engineering BEng (Hons) at Heriot-Watt University, Andy Thomson began searching for the perfect graduate position.

He was attracted to Aberdeen by what the  energy capital of Europe had to offer.

Andy joined NOV Elmar in October 2011 as a graduate engineer, a position that appealed to him because it utilised the skills he had learned and enjoyed at  university.

His role, which relies heavily on the latest software tools, requires him to develop solutions in the design stage to overcome engineering problems.

Andy said: “NOV Elmar has a strong support network and training programme in place for graduates embarking on a career in the oil and gas industry.

“I was fortunate to join the company at the same time as six other graduates. This allowed us to learn and develop our skills as a group whilst being mentored by experienced members of the team.

“NOV Elmar offers a tailored training programme which sees the graduates spend about a third of their time out of the design office, working in a rotation between a wide variety of other departments, from accounts and production planning to the machine shop and service. Spending two to four weeks in each department gives a great insight into how it fits into the overall running of the company.

“This style of learning provided us with an overview of the wider industry and a full understanding of the company’s service and product offering, and meant I was exposed to different skills and techniques that I would not have had the opportunity to learn about had my learning been purely on the job.

“In addition to our in-house training courses, time spent in the workshops really helped me find my feet with a range of equipment previously unknown to me. This experience allowed me to see how design decisions have been made to take into account limitations of machining, assembly and servicing of equipment. Having a clear visual of what can go wrong is fundamental for when I’m at my desk designing new products and improving the old ones.

“My role at NOV Elmar is very hands-on.  I enjoy being able to take the skills learned at university and put them into practice.

“In my first year, I received in-house training to use the engineering design software, and other skills essential for my role that had not been covered in my degree course, such as hydraulic systems and frame design.”

NOV Elmar also encourages its graduates to undertake external training. Distance-learning courses are funded by the company and completed in the graduate’s own time.

Along with three others, Andy recently completed a material and corrosion module from an MSC course at Robert Gordon University, paid for by NOV Elmar, further enhancing his knowledge of the industry and technical expertise and helping  him  towards his goal of gaining chartered engineer status.

“After two years in the graduate position, I was promoted to my current role of design engineer, along with the other graduates who started at the same time.

“Beginning my career in a graduate specific role was an excellent decision. It allowed for constant learning and gave me a real understanding of which department and field best suited my skills. It also proved to be a great way to get noticed by the company.

“I hope to progress to a more senior engineering role in the future as NOV Elmar continues to expand globally.

“It’s great to know that I will be able to relate to new graduates starting with the company and have the chance to guide them through the same training structure I experienced when I joined.”


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