Getting the most out of mining and resources graduate programs

| Share

By MiningFM's regular contributor Brooke Martin

That CEO you’ve heard of, who works for that huge gold mine or oil and gas company, didn’t just step into that amazing dream role! Most successful men and women started out with their foot in the door as a graduate. 

Many high-rolling mining companies and oil and gas operations are seeking talented young (and more "mature") graduates to join their teams every year. Graduate positions vary greatly across the industries from engineering (mining, metallurgy, mechanical, electrical) to science (geology, environment). But there are also many graduate opportunities in office-based sectors of mining and oil and gas such as HR, accounting, and now more commonly, health and safety.

So what should graduates know when entering into a structured graduate program?

And what do experienced mining and resources employees (those who have long completed their graduate program) wish they’d done differently, way back when? 

I’ve spoken to graduates spanning gold mining, iron ore, and oil and gas to get some answers straight from the horse’s mouth!

Get schooled

When applying for a job as a graduate, there’s no excuse not to know a hell of a lot about the company you’re applying to.  The internet is a massive resource and you should walk into a graduate interview ready to spit out a wealth of knowledge about the organisation. Not only should you know about the company, but the position/area of work that you are applying for. Surely by this stage a graduate program candidate would have done some work experience in the field of choice. A wise piece of advice: a graduate applying for a Grad Mining Engineering position, for example, shouldn’t say "Well I’m not really into Mine Engineering but it just seems a bit more exciting than Geology, so it’ll do..."

Get involved

Plenty of past graduates say they wish they had utilized their time better in terms of 'seeing more' of the organisation where they completed their graduate program. Brent said "Even though I was a Mechanical Engineer graduate, I never really got around to speaking to other employees working in different areas of the plant. If I had the courage to get out and do that, I'd have known more about the operation as a whole at the end of the grad program and possibly made a lot more friends and contacts." So whether a fresh grad or mature aged grad – get out there and meet the people who work with you. Another grad, mature aged Stacey, said that she took every chance to get involved in company volunteering, community events and social club functions simply to meet other employees and really make the most of her time at the organisation (as there was no guarantee she'd have a full-time position after her two-year grad program).  “Those two years were some of the best of my life – it made going to work so much more fun when you actually knew the people you were working alongside, and also in other departments and sectors. I really felt like part of a team.”

Learn your place

There’s nothing worse than a graduate entering the resources or oil and gas industries with a "know it all" attitude. Your boss isn’t interested in what your thoughts are about the senior leadership team structure or organisation strategic plan within the first few weeks. Listen lots, be respectful of those who you report to, and learn, learn, learn! Get to know your supervisor and how they manage their employees, and work this to your advantage. Enviro Mick said: “I learnt within a few months that my manager was not a morning person, so I chose to approach him after his second coffee around 10am when he was in a much better mood!” Simple tips for young players!

If you don’t ask, you don’t get

I mean this in terms of learning opportunities. If you’re unsure about anything or you feel that you want to learn more about a certain part of your graduate program, ask away.  Your supervisor/manager isn’t a mind reader, and it shows initiative if you communicate that you are willing to learn more.  Amelia from HR says: “I was stuck doing recruitment for months on end without learning any other area of HR when I first started as a grad. I ended up working up the courage to approach my supervisor to ask for more variety – she said 'of course'. She thought I simply enjoyed doing recruitment and wasn’t ready to move onto the next stage of the program.”  It’s all about communication.  However in saying that, you do need to put in the hard yards to complete each section or learning component of your grad program before moving onto the next. Most companies allow graduates to rotate through different sections of the position/field to enable grad’s to see what they most enjoy and therefore focus their career development in that area, either with the company or elsewhere.

Apply for everything

When your grad program is coming to an end, and it’s looking like your company isn't going to offer you a full-time position, apply for every job you can.  Apply to organisations directly and also via recruitment agencies to cover every vacancy that you possibly can, obviously for positions that you are interested in.  Also ask around your workplace as there may be people who are willing to refer you to their own industry contacts.