Office Hours: Tips For Hatching Your Oil And Gas Career With Suncor Energy


Office Hours is an hour-long, live Q&A with industry eggs-perts for TalentEgg members only. Students and recent grads are invited to interact with a special guest, asking questions about career paths, recruitment processes and tips for success.

On Thursday, September 20, 2012, TalentEgg hosted Office Hours with Suncor Energy!

Campus Recruiter Heather MacIntyre was on hand to answer career-related questions regarding Suncor’s application process, company culture, career growth, resume tips and much more.

If you missed the live event, you can read the complete transcript below:

Eric Chung at TalentEgg:
Welcome to Office Hours, TalentEgg-ers! My name is Eric and I’ll be moderating today’s chat. Our eggs-pert guest today is Heather MacIntyre from Suncor Energy!

Heather MacIntyre:
Hi Eric, thanks for your introduction!

Eric Chung at TalentEgg:
Over the next hour, you can send Heather your questions about career opportunities at Suncor Energy, learn how to stand out and get tips for successfully hatching your energy career. You can start submitting your questions now. Heather, could you please tell the audience a bit about yourself?

Heather MacIntyre:
Hello! I’m Heather MacIntyre, a Campus Recruiter at Suncor Energy. I received a Bachelor of Arts from Queen’s University, and later did an MBA in Australia. Upon my return, I joined Suncor Energy in the Leadership Development department. After two years in that area, I moved into Campus Recruiting, which is a great area to work in!

Comment From Malvika
Could you please tell us about Suncor Energy’s New Grad Program?

Heather MacIntyre:
Absolutely. We have a few new grad programs here at Suncor: the Engineer in Training program, the Project Controls in Training program, the Supply Chain Management program, the Accounting and Finance program, the Geology and Geophysics program, and the Refining and Marketing program. Most of these programs last for three years, and each year the student rotates into a new role. It gives them the opportunity to see different sides of the business and their field. Mentorship is also part of the program, as well as training and learning opportunities.

Comment From Audrey
Hello all. Here is my question: As a recent graduate from a top American university with no engineering experience (except research), would I be eligible to apply for an internship or a co-op at Suncor since they give the basic training that I would require, or should I go ahead and apply for the EIT rotational program? If so, what can I do to make myself stand out since I assume the other applicants for the EIT position would have some internship/co-op experience? Lastly, do you have any engineering traineeship positions for such a prospective applicant? Thank you.

Heather MacIntyre:
Thanks for the question Audrey! Unfortunately, if you have already graduated, you are not eligible for the student roles. However, we do have new grad roles that we reserve specifically for recent grads, so you will not be competing against other candidates with years of experience. We understand that new grads are very new to the workforce, and that they will need to be trained and supported in their roles.

Comment From Shajee Syed
I wanted to know more about the recruiting process. Is the candidate notified either way? How long does it take? Are all the applications looked at after the closing date for a specific job?

Heather MacIntyre:
Hello! That’s a great question! Rest assured that we do read every resume. We screen the resumes as they come in, and then once the position closes we forward the short-listed resumes through to the hiring manager. The hiring manager then selects the candidates that they would like to interview. Unfortunately, we don’t have the capacity to contact all unsuccessful candidates; however, anyone who has gone through the interviewing process with us is notified either way. We try to move the roles along as quickly as possible. Most of the roles will be filled by mid to late November.

Comment From Colin
What are some ways to stand out to recruiters and hiring managers?

Heather MacIntyre:
We would strongly recommend that you highlight any information on the job description that is applicable to you. Additionally, the best thing you can do from a recruiter’s perspective is to be clear – when recruiters are screening hundreds of resumes, it is refreshing when the resumes can be clear about what the student/new grad can offer, where they are in their degree (year or graduation date), and a clear outline of what their key skills are.

Comment From Nicole Bates
Hope you’re doing well. As a soon-to-be Queen’s commerce graduate, I am particularly interested in the Accounting and Finance program. Can you please elaborate on the details of the rotational opportunities within the three-year program?

Heather MacIntyre:
Hi Nicole! Great to hear from a fellow Queen’s student! The students enter into the program and are put into two different roles. They are then given the option to stay in one role or switch permanently into a third role. The areas that the new grad might work in are: Accounting, Tax, Internal Audit, Financial Planning and Analysis, and Treasury/Risk Management. There are also a lot of training, networking and mentorship opportunities.

Comment From Joey
Hello Heather! My name is Joey, I recently graduated with an economics degree and I’m curious about what types of things Suncor Energy looks for in an application. Anything more specific besides the usual relevant experience, skills and/or volunteering? What would make an application stand out more?

Heather MacIntyre:
Hi Joey. We love it when the resumes are clear (see my resume comment above). We do look at transcripts, but we are also looking for a well-rounded student, which (hopefully) includes some applicable work experience, volunteerism, extra-curriculars, and good references. It is great when we get a bit more than just a list of what you have done, including a detailed and concise explanation of the roles or experiences that you had.

Comment From Mohammed Etleb
Hello Heather, thanks for taking the time to address our questions. I am interested to know what would make someone the ideal employee and what is valued the most by Suncor? I am interested in the Finance and Accounting option.

Heather MacIntyre:
Hello! Good question! What we value in employees are leadership, accountability, safety mindset, high performance, and a strong sense of teamwork. In regard to the roles specifically, we look at the academic marks that relate most directly to the position that you are applying for. Additionally, we look for students that will take initiative, are flexible and enjoy rotating through different roles, teams and challenges!

Comment From Philip
What sort of relocation benefits do you offer applicants? Many applicants apply for jobs outside of their area, while most of Suncor’s job openings are located in the prairie regions.

Heather MacIntyre:
Hi Philip! We provide relocation support for our students as well as new grads and regular employees. The relocation package depends somewhat on the role and the location. For example, in Fort McMurray students are given AMAZING student housing. Regardless of where you are relocating to, pretty much all expenses are covered by the relocation support. It shouldn’t cost you anything out of pocket and you may even come out on top! For new grads, it is a very comprehensive package, and I have yet to hear any new grad express anything but enthusiasm toward the relocation package!

Comment From Mike
Are online applications really worth it, or should we establish contact with HR or a recruiter?

Heather MacIntyre:
Great question! We absolutely require all applicants to apply online. We would also very strongly encourage you to come to the information sessions or career fairs that we may be attending. That way, you can meet with the recruiter responsible for the role(s) you may be applying to. You also have the opportunity to talk to current employees in your field to get an idea of what it is like working in their role. We love to meet students at the career fairs and information sessions, and we follow-up to see if the students we talked to actually applied online for the roles!

Comment From Aaron Zhou
Good afternoon Heather! I am a Petroleum Engineering program graduate from University of Alberta, and I am currently seeking an EIT position within Alberta’s oil sands industry. Through my undergraduate training and internship, I developed strong competencies in reservoir and drilling engineering. But I didn’t find many Suncor openings for Petroleum Engineering students; most positions are available for Mechanical, Civil and Chemical Engineering students. I am wondering about the opportunities Suncor provides for Petroleum Engineering graduate. Thank you!

Heather MacIntyre:
Hi Aaron! Certainly we have a lot of Petroleum Engineers here at Suncor. It is a much more specific type of engineering degree that is unique to schools in Western Canada. Since we recruit nationally, we tend to go with the more “generic” engineering disciplines. If you have experience or your degree relates strongly to the position posted, then I would encourage you to apply for it.

Comment From Abi A
Hi Heather, if I have a business degree but did not major or concentrate on a particular subject would I still be able to apply to Suncor?

Heather MacIntyre:
Hi Abi! Yes, certainly you can apply for any role that you feel that you would be a good fit for. However, it is up to you to make the case as to why you are the strongest candidate, so highlight any applicable work experience, courses, volunteer roles, etc., that might relate to the job.

Comment From Richa
Hi Heather, thanks for your time today. As a recent science grad, I was wondering what kind of new grad programs are geared to this area of study. My degree is in environmental chemistry/chemistry and I am looking to start my career in environmental project management/auditing, or a related field.

Heather MacIntyre:
Hi Richa! We don’t have any new grad programs relating specifically to environmental chemistry. We do hire these disciplines, but often we hire contract companies or consultants to come in and work with us for environmental projects, as they can be fairly specialized and unique.

Comment From Michelle Kelly
To clarify, postings with the title “Co-op Student” position are reserved for those still enrolled in school, and therefore new grads will not be considered for these positions?

Heather MacIntyre:
Michelle, that is correct! We reserve co-op roles for current students, and reserve our new grad roles just for new grads (about to graduate or just graduated). Additionally, you should note that you don’t have to be in a co-op program to apply to a co-op role at Suncor.

Comment From Matthew
Does experience doing oil and gas field work help at all in getting hired? I am not asking this question just about Suncor, but about the entire white-collar oil and gas sector. Myself, I traded possible valuable internship experience for working in the field. I had the opportunity to work on pipeline crews, service rigs, drilling rigs, etc., which I do hope allows me the chance to break into oil and gas. Any information or comments regarding the correlation between field work and office work is much appreciated. Thank you.

Heather MacIntyre:
Hi Matthew, I would actually encourage people to get field experience. It is great to be there to work on the front line and see the operations directly. ANY experience is valuable, so take the opportunities as they come to you.

Comment From Sarah
What differentiates Suncor from the other oil and gas companies in Canada, and why would this matter to a new graduate looking for employment?

Heather MacIntyre:
Hi Sarah! Great question! One thing that we are particularly proud of is that we are a Canadian company, and that we are the largest integrated energy company in Canada (fifth largest in North America). I strongly believe that we have a great student culture here as well. We have hired over 800 students in 2012 alone, and we receive very positive feedback about their experiences here.

We are a growing company in a growing industry, which allows for tons of opportunities for our employees. We have a culture of moving people into new and challenging roles, and because we are a big company, there are so many different areas as well. Additionally, we have a lot of career growth and development opportunities, such as leadership courses or specific courses to further your knowledge in a specific field. We have a strong work-life balance philosophy, and as a company we are very involved in the community. Monday we have our official United Way kickoff party, which a lot of students and new grads are involved in organizing and running!

Comment From Monica
Hi Heather, what are the jobs that are most in demand right now within the oil and gas industry? And does Suncor have offices across Canada or in one city/region?

Heather MacIntyre:
Hi Monica! Good question. To start off, we have offices across Canada (Calgary, Fort McMurray, Mississauga, Edmonton, St. John’s, Montreal and Sarnia) to name the more major locations. Additionally, we have operations around the world: Denver, Aberdeen, Norway. And in terms of roles in demand, engineering is always key in oil and gas. However, in the business area, accounting and supply chain management are becoming increasingly in demand. Of course we hire from all areas and disciplines, but those are the highest growing areas right now.

Comment From Mike
If Suncor isn’t coming to my campus this fall, are there other ways I can connect with reps?

Heather MacIntyre:
Hi Mike! We have a few social media channels such as YouTube (where you can watch videos about students and new grads – myself being one of them!), LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. If you have questions or would like more information, we will monitor these channels and get back to you as soon as possible!

Comment From Sunny
Hi Heather, do you know if Suncor has a CA training office for the accounting associates?

Heather MacIntyre:
Hi Sunny. Currently we don’t have one for new grads, but we are setting this up for some of the mid-career employees. In the next few years it should become more of a complete program, but at this point it is still in its infancy stage.

Comment From Mehdi
Hello Heather, does Suncor have specific recruitment programs or rotational programs for MBA graduates? Thank you.

Heather MacIntyre:
Hi Medhi. Good question! There aren’t any specific recruitment programs or rotational programs for MBA graduates. This is partly because MBAs are often a mixed group. Some, like me, are still fairly new to the workforce, while others have managed companies for many years and have a ton of experience. Additionally, MBAs often have different undergraduate degrees, from engineering to business, and have very different career paths and aspirations.

Comment From Laura Evans
Hi Heather! For new grad positions closing on Sept. 30th, approximately how long would it take for a candidate to be contacted for an interview (assuming they are going to be invited for an interview)? Also, are start dates negotiable or are there set start dates for entrants into these programs?

Heather MacIntyre:
Great question Laura! It can take anywhere between two weeks and a month for candidates to be contacted and scheduled for an interview. Start dates *may* be negotiable, this is dependent on the role or program, the hiring manager, and when the student wants the new start date to be.

Eric Chung at TalentEgg:
That’s all the time we have for questions today. Thanks for participating in Office Hours and a big thank-you to Heather for taking the time to answer everyone’s questions! Do you have any final comments, Heather?

Heather MacIntyre:
It was great to see so many people in the chat! I recognize a lot of names as people who have applied to various roles. Thanks for participating. It was great to hear from everyone. :)

Eric Chung at TalentEgg:
If you’re looking for more information on careers with Suncor Energy, visit their employer profile on TalentEgg. They are currently looking to fill many student and entry level roles, so check it out!

Eric Chung at TalentEgg:
Thanks again for joining us today TalentEgg-ers! Keep your eyes on our Twitter feed (@TalentEgg) for upcoming Office Hours events!

Heather MacIntyre:
If you have any other questions, feel free to follow-up on Twitter at @suncorcareers.