Alumni Experiences: How to Job Hunt – Barcelona CommUnity Event

In collaboration with the InnoEnergy , the  held an open forum event as the final formal event of the 2016-2017 academic year. Three InnoEnergy Alumni from three different programmes were guests and answered questions for the attending students and other CommUnity members. The event comes at a critical time for both first and second year InnoEnergy students as they go through the search for internships and full-time positions, respectively.

The event started with a few updates from Claudio Geyken regarding the state of our CommUnity and the exciting developments since the productive meeting with the Vice President of the European Commission Maroš Šefčovič (view the article here). The event was again live streamed across the CommUnity, allowing others to digitally ‘attend’ this event which was the first of its kind for the Barcelona CommUnity. With a hand poll to begin the meeting, it was clear that everyone in the room—presenters and attendees included—had undertaken a job-search in the past, and therefore, the open forum-style event was relevant for all who were in attendance.

The three special guests of the event were:

Álvaro González Fontana  –  alumnus who studied in Poland and Portugal. While in Portugal, he and his team won the EDP Energy Challenge and the chance to develop his Master’s thesis at EDP. Following completion of the program, he returned to his hometown of Barcelona to work for Factor Energia, an electricity supplier company.

Farah Cheaib  –  alumnus who studied in Spain and Sweden. She completed her Master’s thesis at Enervalis in Belgium. Before this, she gained experience working in the UK, Lebanon and the USA, where she was a research assistant at MIT. Currently, she is working with Estabanell Energia near Barcelona.

Maxim Shishov‌ –  alumnus who studied in Sweden and Spain. After his second year at UPC in Barcelona, he decided to stay and pursue a position with Ernst and Young after completing his Master’s thesis in Barcelona.

Each of the three alumni gave a brief presentation of themselves and their job-searching experience which led them to their current point in their careers. It was interesting to see how different yet similar the paths each took to land in various roles in the energy sector today. Those in attendance benefitted by the presence of an energy consultant, a representative of an energy supplier and a representative from an energy retailer and distribution systems operator to understand the differences in pursuing each path.

Following this short presentation of each individual guest, the three assembled in the front of the room and the floor was open for questions from those assembled. The forum was very productive and the conversation could have lasted longer than the two hours that the event allowed for. Some general advice that came from the panel of alumni include:

  • Be confident in yourself. When you enter an interview, know that you are the best for the job, don’t be rude, but believe in what you know and answer with confidence. On the other hand, if you do not know the answer, do not pretend that you do. It is better in these situations to say, “I don’t know at the moment, but I’m interested in learning.”
  • Make sure you ask questions in the interview. It seems like something that should go without saying, but this is something that will make you stand out, because not everyone does it.
  • Make sure you present your InnoEnergy experience as a mixture of business education and technical competence. The international experience that IE Master’s students gain is also a great point to highlight. It is something that not all Master’s students are exposed to. Managing/coordinating projects across many locations is a valuable part of the study program as well and this along with the soft skills you gain are things that should be highlighted in your CV.
  • You will learn a lot about your job when you actually start doing it. You should have a technical understanding of the aspects you will be addressing in your job, but the actual method of carrying out tasks are things that are learned by doing it. If you cannot accomplish or understand the technical aspects of a task, it is probably not part of your job.
  • A famous saying by Richard Branson goes, “If you are asked to do something you do not know how to do, say ‘yes’ and then learn how to do it.” This statement is better refined by saying “I currently do not know how to do it, but I would like to learn.” When you start a position, it is good to accept responsibilities, but make sure you are not over-promising yourself to the point where you cannot get all your tasks done. Some of the assembled panel are compensated based on their performance, and therefore, the suggestion was to not say ‘yes’ to every task immediately when you start.

Toward the end of the conversation, one student had an especially specific question for Farah, the only non-EU worker of the group. The student asked about the difficulty in finding a job that would support a non-EU student’s immigration procedure. Farah’s expression and answer revealed that this process was unique and a strong consideration for her potential future employers at the time. In the end, the value that she would add to the company was considered greater than the effort they would have to put into employing her, thus ending up in a success story in Farah’s case. According to Farah, the applicant has to truly demonstrate their value is strong, much stronger than any other EU applicant who might be competing for the same position, because it is an investment (especially in time) for the company. In Farah’s case, the procedure of filing and submitting all the paperwork lasted a very long time, and she was not able to begin work until it was complete and accepted by the regulatory agencies. Therefore, the patience by the company, and their belief in the applicant is especially important to establish early on. There were many takeaways from this event for all of those involved, and it was very useful indeed. For current students, it was a nice look into the near future.


By Rudolph Santarromana 

The CommUnity Post

14 June 2017

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