Virtual Internships 2020
Ben - Marketing Intern
The first day of a new job can often be daunting and eventful, but also a memorable experience in which you acclimatise to a new work environment and colleagues. Inductions, presentations, and icebreakers are just some of the activities which we are all familiar with when setting out on a new journey at a company. On July 1st, 2020, I started my position as a marketing intern at Oil & Gas Corrosion Ltd, however, this was to be unlike any other first day which I had experienced. I would be working from home for the entirety of my contract.
My studies at Sheffield Hallam University had come to an end amidst one of the most uncertain times which I had ever encountered – employment opportunities falling through, the job market drying up and general discontent amongst the prospective graduate class of 2020 caused by COVID-19. Therefore, when a position arose at Oil & Gas Corrosion as part of the joint initiative between the company and my university, I eagerly submitted my application, after which, I was offered the position. I had worked from home occasionally in the past, however, starting a new job without meeting my boss and colleagues face-to-face was an alien concept. Adding to an already bizarre arrangement, I would be travelling to Budapest one week into my contract for the summer to visit my family.
We hit the ground running with Ivan, Brad, and the team of interns, which turned out to be a very efficient method of cooperation. Combined with regular, effective communication, the internship turned out to be a fruitful experience in which we managed to smash the targets which we had set at the beginning. Fast-forward six weeks, I am now working at Oil & Gas Corrosion on a part-time basis whilst still enjoying my time in sunny Hungary, continuing the projects and developments which we started during the internship, working towards launching the new brand, OGC Energy. The flexibility offered by the company is fantastic, and seeing projects through to completion seamlessly and on-time is exactly as delay-free and effective as one would expect from an ideal office environment – except, ‘that’ office is now my living room in Budapest. Different time zones? No problem! Collaborating with both my colleagues and third-parties, as well as partaking in video calls with other players of the industry has been an enjoyable and productive experience, moreover, one which has reduced the sentimental distance between us as colleagues.
Once the domain of freelancers and the self-employed, this experience has shown me that working from home is a viable operational method for SMEs in the oil, gas and renewable energy industry, and can indeed be beneficial to both companies and employees alike. I am excited at the prospect of continuing at Oil & Gas Corrosion – OGC Energy in the future, heightening my knowledge and technical skills whilst actively contributing to the company, albeit from a distance for the time being.
Brad - Process Engineer and Team Lead
Interns are something we have been familiar with at Oil & Gas Corrosion Ltd for several years, myself starting as a summer intern before securing a permanent position following my graduation. Each intern brings a unique skillset to help us with our projects, and perhaps most importantly for our small team, a unique personality. We are proud to complete each internship in a way that not only provides us with great work, but also with great friends too. This summer was quite different; this year our interns worked from home, meaning their work, along with both the personal and working relationships associated, were developed online.
Our connection with universities, both local and further afield, have been developed over a number of years. In particular Sheffield Hallam University, who this year we would be recruiting 3 interns from: 2 in our technical team and 1 in our marketing team. As typical of the university, we received several strong applications for each of the roles. Ivan and I strapped on our headsets, found the best angle for our webcams (using the term ‘best’ very loosely indeed), and the online interviewing process began; something which was as strange to us as it was the applicants. Once we had made our decisions, we sent each new colleague a laptop then eagerly waited for Monday, and the morning video call which would become routine for us throughout the internship.
We are used to dealing with clients all over the world, 99% of the time virtually, so we felt we were well equipped to adapt, and hope the interns thought so too. We had daily video calls in the morning and afternoon, as well as constant communication through instant messaging and the platform to start video calls whenever necessary. Having said that, all our efforts couldn’t replicate the face to face contact we are used to, and found at times (especially early on, as with all of us) the interns shied away from asking questions which maybe they would have felt more comfortable to ask if they were sitting next to us. All 3 interns did some really good work on the projects we had, and we really appreciate the jobs they completed and effort they showed. Although, we were left not really feeling like we’d had interns this year, not for lack of quality, effort or commitment; just because they weren’t with us in the office every day like we are so accustomed to.
We were pleased to be able to support graduates in what is undoubtedly been a tough time for everyone. We were equally pleased to have them support us in our projects, making important contributions from day one. Online internships are definitely something we would consider again in the current climate, and feel we successfully managed; we also acknowledge that the commitment and effort from every intern has been outstanding. Going forward, online internships will not be first-choice for us; mainly due to being so used to having face to face discussions all through the day. However, we are confident to make it work provided we find the right candidates. Now the internship is over we have asked Benedek Odor to continue working with us, helping with marketing and rebranding; we hope to continue extending his work with us.