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This is my third attempt at finishing this blog. I’m back home and lazing around – trying to figure how eight weeks flew by. Writing this blog seems to be a good way to sit back and reflect.
How does this work?
Shell’s Assessed Internship program is one of the classiest ways to immerse yourself in the oil & gas industry, and I’d say Shell in particular. The resources & opportunities you get here during the course of the internship are more than sufficient for you to understand the culture at the company and to see yourself working there as an employee. Shell adheres to the C-A-R criteria (Capacity, Achievement, Relationship) of assessment which covers your technical understanding, enthusiasm and people skills (The company is charmingly open about its policies – you can find information about all of this on their website. In fact, now that I have temporary access to the internal website – every day begins with surfing the latest news in the energy industry).
Not very keen on a core chemical engineering internship, I had refrained from applying in any core companies or FMCGs that had come for interviews before Shell. I consulted with many seniors who had interned with Shell and/or were currently working / about to join – and the one thing that really impacted me was that every single one of them had only good things to say about the company culture, work ethics as well as the kind of projects that they worked on. I then tried to ask them what they did not like about the job – and people (mostly) came up blank. After my intern here, I can now say with confidence that I made the right choice.
About the Project
At the end of my hour-long interview, I was asked whether I had a preference for the kind of projects I would like to work on. Majoring in Chemical Engineering and generally an economics enthusiast, I was pretty sure I would enjoy almost any kind of project that they had to offer (In hindsight, I could not have been more wrong on this front because as an integrated company with operations in upstream, downstream and midstream, Shell has a very wide range of job profiles – not all of which are suited for chemical engineers, even ones with an interest in economics). However, I was very lucky to get a project largely tailored to my interests.
My project is unique because of two reasons – one, it is entirely a team effort (with 3 other interns), and secondly, it requires us to interact with practically all the other disciplines in the company. While it meant going back to 4th semester Chemical Engineering – it could also not have been more different from 4th semester ChemE! Needless to say, the all of this comes with an accompanying sense of “information overload”.
This brings me to the best part about Shell – the work culture. Like most internships, we’ve been assigned mentors and buddies. But unlike most internships, our interaction is hardly limited to them. The environment here is very open and you can approach anyone without hesitation. You can walk up to anybody’s desk and schedule a *GTKY (get-to-know-you) session with them. Even as interns, we’ve had a chance to have a candid talk with the big-shots of our department. This culture helps a great deal with the “information overload”. There were instances when someone with 20 years of experience sat with me for an hour-and-half, even sacrificing half his lunch time so he could sit with me till I absolutely understood a certain element of the project at hand – all I had to do was ask him to help me out. This kind of help is not at all rare at Shell.
Interns are treated very well – a great deal of investment goes into the projects designed for us. One of the best things about these projects is that they test not only your technical skills but also give you a sense of how well you fit in the O&G industry. Shell is one of the best in the O&G industry – so if you find the industry challenging and exciting, then Shell is definitely the place for you! (You might want to spend some time reading about oil prices & the different technologies used for oil processing – they give you a very real ground-level feel of how economic value is generated)
In my second week here, I told my mentor I was set on pursuing a Masters in Economics. I wouldn’t blame it entirely on the way Chemical engineering is taught at the undergraduate level, but I had never really understood how on earth was I going to apply transport phenomenon ever in my entire life! The entire 6th semester had been spent in trying to figure out the working of one single absorption unit in Mass Transfer. In just one month at Shell, I was figuring out flows for combinations of absorption units – combined with boilers, compressors, heat exchangers and what not! And all of it, surprisingly, made sense when seen in this context. Whatever initial skepticism I had was gone within a couple of weeks of interacting with people – Shell has successfully built a culture where people actually care about their work and are convinced that it matters.
Personally, I had some long-term plans before the internship, and in my eight weeks here, I already found myself thinking of a reasonably long-term career at Shell. The encouraging work environment, plenty of growth opportunities, freedom to pursue related interests and the focus on work-life balance – what more could one ask for? No doubt I have learned a lot during my internship, but I definitely have a lot more to learn at this place. But for now, the internship is over and last year of college awaits. Feel free to contact me if you want to know more about my internship, Shell or the Oil & Gas industry in general – I’d be happy to answer your queries in person.
*(Another Shell quirk – TLAs or Three-lettered-acronyms. Learning about these, reminded me of my freshman year in the insti – the insane grappling with insti lingo!)