A Graduate's Journey in the Hydrogen and CCS Sectors

Beatrice shares her first-hand insights and experiences of working in the energy sector as a recent graduate.

young woman professional against yellow background

May 9, 2024

I joined WeConnect Energy almost six months ago, embarking on a journey that not only challenged my academic knowledge but also pushed me to adapt, learn, and grow in ways I never imagined. Stepping into the professional world right after graduation was both exciting and overwhelming. I was joining what was a newly rebranded company, as part of a fledgling department aimed at developing the Hydrogen and Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) divisions. It was a new adventure for both WeConnect Energy and me.

My first blog focused on my first couple of months and my initial thoughts and recap of some the events I had attended. In this blog article I would like to take a different angle and share my insights and experiences of working in the energy sector as a recent graduate. Who knows, this blog might inspire other graduates to take the same steps that I have into the dynamic world of recruitment and consulting!

Navigating Changes

Initially, joining a brand-new division was challenging. The Hydrogen sector, with its complex technologies and new terminology, was completely new to me. Keeping a positive mindset, I viewed this as an excellent opportunity to carve a niche in an innovative and growing field, and I was really determined to make my mark.

As I expected, the journey was going to come with certain hurdles, particularly during the beginning of my career. Time management became a critical skill to master early on. Balancing tasks, nurturing relationships, and keeping up with a constant influx of emails was a juggling act, to say the least! What made it even more challenging but interesting, was the need to conduct market research, particularly via LinkedIn. Understanding the skills and the type of people needed in this emerging sector was crucial for me and I received great guidance from Dan and the rest of the team in this area. Adding new and qualified candidates to our database would be essential for the success of our new vertical and something which I heavily focused on.

Hydrogen Storage Tanks

As with most roles, clear communication plays a central role in my day-to-day activities. I quickly found that being able to connect with people on their level, adapt my approach, and mirror their communication style was a skill I had to develop. Despite being naturally sociable and comfortable in conversations with strangers, I did encounter challenges. The initial outreach and networking were slightly nerve-wracking and really required me to step out of my comfort zone. I found that a 'rip the band-aid off' approach was the best way to overcome this hurdle and took a learn by doing learning approach. Additionally, with English not being my mother tongue made things even more demanding. However, I remain optimistic that with time and improved knowledge in these areas that things will become easier. I have already discovered more flow and rhythm in my work and am enjoying the daily challenges.

Transitioning from Theory to Practice

Coming straight from university to my first 'real job' was a complete change in intensity. The need for deliberate time management in a real-world role were far different from the flexibility of university life and this life transition required me to quickly adapt and develop a wide range of skills on the job.

The sector's rapid growth opened a ton of opportunities not just for contractors, but within the recruitment sphere as well. Having been given part responsibility to help develop a new desk from scratch was a huge vote of confidence in my ability. From day one, I saw this as an opportunity to create a business within a business, which is an exciting prospect for any graduate.

Reflecting on the past six months, my advice to future graduates considering a career in recruitment would be to stay open-minded and resilient. As I experienced, the degree you hold may not absolutely align with your eventual role, but the attitude and adaptability you bring to the table are invaluable. It is also worth pointing out that the industry's competitive atmosphere naturally requires those with resilient attitudes - with targets to hit, calls to be made, and counteroffers to be handled at the last minute – both a positive mindset and strong will to carry on is a must. In recruitment, where relationships are key, building rapport and establishing strong connections is essential. Soft skills such as effective communication and time management are often valuable too.  

For those still in the studying mindset, platforms like Coursera and LinkedIn Learning also offer courses that are both relevant and up to date. For would-be recruiters, I highly recommend the interpersonal course offered by LinkedIn, which for me were an excellent refresher on communicating with confidence.

Challenges aside, there were numerous aspects of my role that I thoroughly enjoy. Talking to candidates is particularly rewarding and part of the role I get a kick out of. Getting to know individuals from diverse backgrounds and finding common ground is not just a job requirement but a learning opportunity, helping me to improve daily. It is always fascinating to hear candidates share their insights into the market; it is one thing reading about advances in the industry but quite another hearing it first-hand from experts in the field.

Global Opportunities

Beatrice in the United Arab Emirates

I have recently returned from a work trip to Dubai, where I met up with the rest of the WeConnect Energy Low Carbon and Renewables team. I was amazed by the scale of the energy transition initiatives happening there. It was obvious that the country, which made important energy commitments at the recent COP28 climate summit, was serious about playing their part in delivering vital energy targets to keep the 1.5 °C goal within reach.

Our Director of Low Carbon and Renewables, Dan Brook, and I will be attending the World Hydrogen 2024 Summit & Exhibition. The summit is a key event for forming partnerships and discussing strategies to expand the use of hydrogen, a critical element in energy transition worldwide. The event promises to bring together government officials, industry leaders, and those of us in the recruitment sphere to align on goals and track industry progress. It promises to be full of major players in the industry, with lots of interesting conversations and insights to be had.

This event will be my first European-based renewables event, and what an event to start this journey at the world’s largest hydrogen-focused exhibition. A packed three-day event featuring events such as the C-Level Summit, the Africa Hydrogen Forum, two H2 Tech Series Stages, and the also World Hydrogen Awards. This event has it all and for those who fancy something a bit different, the event also facilitates site visits to hydrogen projects at the Port of Rotterdam via boat! As I mentioned, we both would be pleased to discuss your hiring needs, so feel free to reach out to connect before the event or come and say hello when you are there.

On a Final Note

I am delighted to welcome Natasha Marais to our team. Natasha is joining our team as a consultant and has a wealth of experience in this sector and will be a huge asset to the team as we continue to expand.

This journey is just the beginning, and I cannot wait to see where it leads. Our company mission is straightforward: we are here to connect energy experts. If you are in the Low Carbon or Renewables sector and need support for your projects or initiatives, feel free to reach out. You can email me at b.crespi@weconnectenergy.com or please feel free to connect on LinkedIn.

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