Our new pilot Green Internship & Work Placement programme is now complete! Two catalysts joined ERM for summer placements within the critical resource team and stakeholder engagement team. While three joined Vattenfall Heat UK for a three-week work placement. With training support provided by Burges-Salmon.

So what were the objectives of this programme?

  • To support our catalysts on a full sustainability learning journey
  • To provide excellent, relevant and supported sustainability work placements
  • To help bridge the gap between education and employment.

“It was a fun, exciting and insightful learning experience that we would highly recommend. Even if you are not sure about the sector you want to work in, it is so valuable to be able to learn so much in such a short period of time, especially in a game-changing company like Vattenfall.

Benefits for Catalysts

Provide them with an understanding of the world of work  We are particularly appreciative of all the time we were given with different employees, to talk about their background, their day-to-day work in heat networks, their views on sustainability and all of their advice on our own path towards green careers.”

Assist them deciding what type of career they might want in the future It reaffirmed my desire to work in environmental policy, and I would love to continue focusing on energy solutions within the climate emergency.

Improve their personal development It was very valuable to work as a team of three towards our project and getting to deliver it and receive feedback for it was wonderful

Improve their key skills and employability.  “This three-week work shadowing with Vattenfall Heat UK was invaluable for me. It was really inspiring to learn about a company that is genuinely invested in building a better future as well as meeting the hard-working team that is driving that journey”

But what was it Really like? We hear from some of the catalysts who took part this summer.
WHY I GOT INVOLVED

Vattenfalls “Having attended the ‘My Green Career’ course offered by Catalyse Change over Easter I was excited for the opportunity to put what was covered into practice, and so I looked for work experience over summer. After a round of interviews in different departments to see where I’d be best fit, soon I was on the tube for my daily commute to the City. Being in an office setting, getting lunch and chatting with my colleagues, and being professional are all important experiences that transcend any career path.” Natasha

“Going into the programme, I knew very little about consultancy and my aim was more to explore career options outside of Bioengineering; the degree I’m studying. Since I have always been interested in sustainability, it was the perfect opportunity to follow this passion as I felt I didn’t get to engage with it enough in my degree studies.Lois

WHAT WE DID

Vattenfalls placement

“Vattenfall Heat were very welcoming and put a lot of effort into including us and making us learn and enjoy every day, even though Rufus had a busy schedule. We got to travel from Bristol to London to meet different teams, and even look at the pipework, which made the projects even more real. I loved that we got to work on our own research project, with loads of flexibility and leeway and independence for where we were heading, as well as always having the option to get feedback and direction from employees and our mentor Rufus. We were also included in socials which was great to meet different employees and have informal chats.Morgane

“This unique opportunity allowed us to have one-on-one calls with different team members to discover the fascinating work that goes into heat networks, from engineering, project management to diversity and inclusion, and be included in group meetings, learn about the technical side of heat networks, how an energy company works in such a pressing context, and also research our own project on the side, led a project on the ecological emergency as another issue to consider when delivering energy infrastructures”  Iva

WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER

I did think my introduction could have had more of a focus on what consultancy actually is, I feel I had to build up my own idea of it on my own over the course of my programme.” Lois

“It would have been great to know a few weeks ahead of the placement that it was mostly going to be work shadowing, and have a clearer idea of how long it would last, but as it was the pilot programme it was obviously about learning on the spot! I believe having a more hands-on internship would have been even more enriching professionally.” Morgane

WHAT WE LEARNT

ERM internship

I learnt that there still is a shortage in materials with lower embedded carbon in an industrial scale for projects like this, and I’m looking forward to continuing my Chemistry degree to change this. This experience has enabled me to learn a lot more about the energy sector and think about how I could approach this sector with a chemistry background in the future” Jasmina

“It is invaluable to be in such a big and innovative company, it was fun to learn so much every day. The best part was to have organised calls with many different team members. They were extremely welcoming and willing to help at all times, and clearly dedicated to diversity. The atmosphere was both really professional and warm. It was flexible in terms of days and times, which allowed us to make the most of it whilst being able to fit it around other  commitments.” Morgane

One of the most valuable experiences I had was the work-life balance. Being a student is often intense all-semester long. Nights and weekends spent studying, and even though I pride myself on the routine I’ve created to balance it I know it is not sustainable long-term. At my placement, I was able to come in, do work that I was proud of, reach out to and have conversations with a variety of people in the company, work on my personal development, and enjoy the rest of the day after work.” Lois

FINAL REFLECTIONS

Vattenfalls placement

“I met a lot of interesting people passionate about their work and was able to learn about their career pathways. I developed my research and presentation skills by working on a group project with the two other Catalyse Change students on my programme and presenting it to the company’s leadership team. I travelled from Bristol to the London office a few times and stayed in the centre for a couple of nights which was good fun.” Iva

“It was great to work for such a large organisation that is involved in industry-leading projects. I got a real feel for what it would be like to work in that department, and also got paid to do so.” Natasha

“It is a good opportunity to network and discover more about the work environment in a big company. The company was progressive, inclusive, and friendly and I really appreciated the effort they made to make us feel welcome and listened to as young women. It was inspiring to meet people who are passionate about their job, working in a company that is striving towards a low carbon future. Meeting and working with the two other Catalyse Change students was also great and having the support as a little team was really reassuring. Jasmina

If your business or organisation is interested to partner with us on this programme next year then please contact Traci Lewis traci@catalysechange.com