What graduates say about life in the mining & resources sector

Peter Nicholls
Team GradAustralia
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There are many jobs in the mining, oil & gas sectors, and they often entail unusual conditions or work in remote locations. As such, it’s sometimes difficult to discuss them without resorting to unhelpful generalisations. It’s helpful then to move beyond abstractions and get a sense of what the life of a mining professional might actually look like.

To this end, we’ve brought together comments from graduates who have recently started their own careers in mining. Read on to learn what they the pros and cons are of their new occupations.

Pros

Flexible working arrangements

Mining, oil & gas companies are often willing to work with new employees to come up with rosters that allow them to balance personal and professional commitments. This is especially helpful for graduates who work in remote locations.

“Work is really flexible with hours to make sure you have a good work/life balance. There is always the opportunity to have a conversation about your needs and how they can be met.”

BP Graduate, Perth

“I work my own hours. As long as the boss knows where I am, and I complete my tasks, it's extremely flexible. Some days I'll be out on site for 12-14 hours and other days I'll only be in the office for 8 hours.”

Orica Graduate, Mackay

Vibrant cultures

Mining, oil & gas companies are generally eager to foster a healthy work culture that will appeal to young talent and help graduates make new connections at work.

“Fantastic culture. Open culture where everyone feels comfortable to be themselves. Everyone is friendly and willing to help each other where they can. There is emphasis working as team however also the freedom to work independently.”

Shell Graduate, Perth

“Everyone is very friendly and willing to help within the office. There are regular graduate catch ups after work. This brings together all the graduates from different sites around the city.”

Orica Graduate, Melbourne

“Very friendly, supportive people that are interested in your development and always happy to help at work. Fun and social people outside of work.”

Caltex Graduate, Sydney

Opportunities to work alongside experienced employees

Few things are better for your career development than the opportunity to work alongside experts in their fields—and, fortunately, many grads report that this is a common experience at mining, oil & gas companies.

“It probably depends on your manager, specifically, but my line managers/bosses are amazing and always make time for me. They’re great with follow-up, provides clear, valuable and constructive feedback, and recommend relevant and useful learning material. Makes a great mentor.”

BP Graduate, Melbourne

“The managers here make excellent mentors. The feedback style is great, and people who do good work are well-well.”

Caltex Graduate, Sydney  

Great perks

When it comes to attracting star graduates, many mining companies offer more than just a competitive salary—there are all the perks too, from travel opportunities to bonuses.

“We can work overseas with all accommodation, travel, and training expenses paid for.”

Shell Graduate, South Korea

“We get a discount at the pilates studio in the building, "My Day" (an additional day of leave to do whatever makes you happy), two volunteer days (additional days of leave to give back to approved charities), and an extra fifth week of leave if you book in all of your leave on time.”

BP Graduate, Melbourne

Comprehensive training programs

If you’ve hired a star grad, it’s worth helping them grow into a star employee—and that’s just one of the reasons why mining, oil, and gas companies frequently offer rigorous training programs with plenty of opportunities to develop new skills and prepare for a dynamic career.

“Shell has a comprehensive training programme for graduates. I have been fortunate to travel overseas a number of times to undertake training and have greatly valued the experience.”

Shell Graduate, Perth

“There are annual graduate workshops that teach soft skills and also include opportunities to network with company leaders.”

Orica Graduate, Melbourne

Cons

Bureaucracy can seem unavoidable

With larger mining, oil & gas companies often hiring many thousands of employees, it’s no surprise that various processes are in place to ensure that internal activities occur in a timely and consistent way. However, the bureaucracy this generates can frustrate some grads.

“A high proportion of people involved in making tough decisions means that it usually takes some time to execute complex plans.”
BP Graduate, Sydney

“Shell is a very report—driven company, so it feels like decisions are made slowly and often re-worked without the elimination of unnecessary processes.”
Shell Graduate, Melbourne

Travel

Graduates seemed undecided about the merits of job-related travel, with some lauding it as an exciting opportunity to see the world, and others noting that extended periods away from friends and family could be quite stressful, especially when rotated to a remote community.

“One of the best and worst things is the requirement to move cities/ countries in line with opportunities in the company. This has resulted in some fantastic experiences in new cities, but can also be disruptive to life outside of work.”

Swire Graduate, Sydney

“The worst (and also the best) thing about working for Swire is the travel. Changing roles and locations every 12-18 months can be unsettling, but if you embrace it, it can be very rewarding.”

Swire Graduate, Melbourne

It can be overwhelming

You’ll be expected to learn a lot as a mining graduate, and this can sometimes be a lot to handle, especially if you’re not provided with sufficient guidance and support.

“It's quite hard to come into a specialist company as a new graduate with very limited knowledge or experience. You have to work extremely hard to be of any help in the first few years. It can be quite stressful.”

Orica Graduate, Sydney

“Being thrown in the deep end with little support and guidance can be quite overwhelming especially when everyone is too busy to step in and help you out a little or provide that guidance you need being new.”

Orica Graduate, Melbourne

“When it is busy, for about half the year, 10 hour days become normal and working weekends is necessary to meet deadlines.”

Australian Energy Market Operator Grad, Perth