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Graduate blogs

The graduate experience of interviewing for a new placement

25 January 2011Posted by Adam Thomas

I guess I should start by introducing myself. I'm Adam Thomas, and I'm on the Information Systems (IS) graduate placement. I joined in September 2010, which means I've been here nearly 5 months. This is my first blog, and it seems only fitting that I'm sitting writing it in the same place my graduate journey began. I'm in a hotel in Windsor. This is the same hotel I stayed in the night before my Centrica interview, the same hotel we spent our graduate induction week in, and now a home whilst I prepare for my next step in the graduate journey.

It's January, and this means for IS graduates it's already time to apply for roles for our next placement. The IS scheme splits our 2 years into 4 separate placements, giving me the opportunity to work in 4 teams before leaving the programme. I've come to Windsor for a week to have interviews with prospective managers, and hopefully be offered a chance to join one of their teams for the next 6 months. I've decided I want to try out different parts of the business so I've applied to positions in Centrica Energy, Centrica Storage, and a Corporate Functions role that will support the Centrica Group.

I found the interviews to be a lot more relaxed than I'd expected. I thought the meetings would involve me being quizzed by various team leaders, but it felt like a friendly discussion. We talked about what I want from a placement, what they'd like a graduate to be able to bring to the team, and if we think we'd mutually gain from the experience. Most of the managers have had graduates in their team before and now have come back requesting another. This can be really useful because it often means line managers have tasks in mind for you and gives you the chance to have an impact from the start. The manager who I'd be working for in Centrica Storage is an ex-graduate himself, and he had a detailed plan of work I'd be doing to maximise my time with them. I like the idea of working with an ex-graduate; because they know exactly what you are going through and understand how best to develop our skills.

I should probably explain the reason that I'm staying in a hotel, and not just walking to the other side of the office for interviews like my fellow graduates. For my first placement I've been based in Aberdeen. Centrica bought a gas and oil company called Venture in 2009 in a high profile takeover, and I've been the first IS graduate to have the opportunity to work with them. Aberdeen is now the base of Centrica Energy's Upstream organisation (sourcing and producing gas and oil), and we have around 300 staff working there. It's a hugely exciting area of the business to work in, supporting teams offshore as they seek to discover and extract gas and oil. A lot of the work done is for teams in the North Sea, but we have international operations in Holland, Norway and Trinidad. One of the main projects that I've been working on is finding a piece of software that can store all the financial and legal data of our assets. I've narrowed it down to two suitable options and now I'm writing a report comparing them for the senior management to use to make an informed decision. So I can be confident that regardless of which placement I do get, it will be very different to what I am doing now.

I'll find out in about 10 days time which role I'll be doing, and then I get to spend a few frantic weeks planning the move 500 miles south to Windsor. Before joining Centrica I'd spent the past 21 years of my life living in York, so moving around the country and getting to live in new places is quite interesting. Until then, I am going to fly back to Aberdeen and continue learning what I can. 

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