As the lockdown and social distancing continues into mid-2020, governments across the world are advising those who can work from home to continue to work from home. But what about students who are just starting on their career journey?
With digital solutions at the heart of bp’s modernization and transformation initiative, Amy Patton (top, left) and Sinead Ryan (top, right) of bp’s early careers talent acquisition team formulated an online program to ensure that this years’ summer internships would continue despite the coronavirus pandemic.
“Interns were due to start in May,” says Amy who heads up the America’s early careers talent acquisition team, “and I knew that we would not likely be in an office environment at that time. So we started engaging the business on the viability of shifting the intern programme from physical to virtual.”
“Internships are a through route to our graduate programmes,” says Sinead, Amy’s counterpart in the Europe, Middle East and Africa regions, “so it’s vital our interns have an outstanding experience with us, one that develops their skills and provides insight into BP, helping us remain competitive in the market.”
With the concept agreed, the practicalities had to be dealt with. The techies in bp’s information, technology and services (IT&S) division got to work building a Windows Virtual Desktop. “Students can login to the bp system from their own computer and have access to all the internal tools that we use. For instance, virtual hangouts will be done on MS Teams which we use internally. We couldn’t have done this without IT&S. There would have been no way we could have delivered the amount of laptops and other kit required in the timespan available,” Sinead says. “It has been a great partnership that lives up to our “one team” core value.”
But an internship is so much more than just the job itself. “There’s a whole person-to-person aspect to it,” Sinead explains. “Typically, we’d do a lot of networking and social events. Of course, that’s not possible in the current climate, so we’ve looked at ways we can still maintain the sense of community that is such a huge part of the internship experience.”
“Additionally, we want the students to experience the culture of bp and the quality of our people by providing exposure and access to people who can give them different insights beyond their day-to-day work teams,” says Amy. To achieve that, the talent teams have designed a portal specifically for the interns. The Intern portal contains a series of online events for the students where they can grow their knowledge about bp, build their networks with bp colleagues and other interns, and get to know their “intern buddies” and “intern families” who will keep connected with them as they progress through their assignment. Additionally, the intern portal contains links to a vast number of resources and direct access to bp’s internal training modules (dubbed “my talent and learning”).
The virtual internship programme is currently being rolled out globally, but the onset of COVID-19 necessitated an early field test. “We had students in place at our Whiting and Toledo refineries when the lockdown was put in place,” says Amy. “The experience of those students shifting to working from home was an opportunity for us to learn from those experiences so we can refine virtual internships as we continue the rollout around the world.”
One intern who experienced this new model is project engineer Kevin Fruth. “One word to describe my time with BP would be… Memorable!” says Kevin “From working at the Whiting refinery to then working remotely certainly made it more challenging, but I still had a great learning experience and I continued to develop solid connections with my co-workers and fellow interns.”
“I feel that I have adapted well to a daily routine and followed it as best as I can. I like that I get to spend more time with family working remotely and it has also been nice not having to commute to the office, which is allowing me to get more sleep which has been great.”
As an early adopter, Kevin has some hints and tips to pass on to other students who will be taking up the virtual internships.
“I have been working remotely for the last six weeks and there is some advice I would like to give you as you prepare for you virtual internships. I would recommend holding some of the Get to Know You session with your co-workers to learn about their experiences. Additionally, if you have any struggles or issues on something – don’t be afraid to ask your co-workers for help. We are all here to help you have a successful internship.”
As working remotely and other aspects of the post-COVID world become the new normal, the driver behind this new way of working remains the same. “The importance of early careers internships can’t be overstated,” says Amy. “We’re reinventing bp. Our business needs new, diverse talent with fresh ideas and different perspectives and these early career professionals really are the talent pipeline of our future.”
Kelly believes that differences are what brings value and diversity to her team and makes BP a great place to work
We offer paid one-year co-op opportunities or 12-week structured internships