Vale is a leading producer of iron ore, copper, cobalt and precious metals, and the world’s second largest nickel mining company, so they hire a lot of new graduates – particularly into their Engineer-in-Training (EIT) and Geologist-in-Training (GIT) programs.
According to Samantha Espley, Manager of Mining and Milling Business Systems at Vale, these are four-year rotational programs that expose new grads to a specific engineering field, such as mining, metallurgical, chemical, electrical, mechanical and civil, or to geology.
“Mining engineering EITs,” for example, she says, “spend 4-6 month terms in various functions in the mining engineering departments, including surveying, ventilation, ground control, mine planning, metrics, and scheduling.”
Meanwhile, “Geologists-in-Training spend 4-6 month terms in various functions in the geology departments, or with exploration and geology design teams.”
Vale’s EITs and GITs complete a series of rotations at mine sites and operational locations in Ontario, Manitoba, and Newfoundland and Labrador, but they’re not limited to one location – Ken Scholey, Director of Process R&D at Vale, says graduates are encouraged to go on rotations that go beyond their home location. “Some have even involved international assignments to places like New Caledonia and Indonesia.”
The ultimate goal of the programs, Ken says, is to rapidly expose graduates to mining, mineral processing and metallurgical processes common to Vale’s business and give them the experiences they need to obtain their professional accreditation.
“The programs vary depending on the discipline and whether the EIT or GIT comes to us with co-op or post-graduate experience,” he says.
We also spoke to Travis McGill, Recruitment and Selection Analyst at Vale, about how you can impress him during the application and interview processes, so keep reading to learn more about the programs and how to be chosen for a position from each of the interviewees.
Q. What kind of training do young engineers and geologists receive in Vale’s training programs?
Ken. They are immersed in the operations and processes found within a given rotation. Beyond that, they are also exposed to several safety systems and processes, such as SafeProduction (Vale’s workplace safety and health program) or hazard and operability studies (HAZOPs). They participate in and contribute to project teams and are exposed to project management principles. They give presentations or reports to more senior engineers or geologists within the company, providing valued input. Each program has a co-ordinator as well as local reporting structures at each rotation, so the graduates receive a fair amount of support through coaching and mentoring. A final yet key component not to be underestimated is that the EITs and GITs at Vale often form strong personal networks that extend beyond their work into activities such as curling or dragon boat teams and weekend social gatherings.
Q. What opportunities are available once they complete the program?
Ken. The EITs and GITs are placed in permanent positions soon after achieving their professional accreditation. Although many remain at their home plant, the business may require other assignments to be considered, such as an extended assignment to New Caledonia. In any case, the placement process involves a dialogue between the co-ordinator, the final placement plant, and the EIT or GIT, to ensure that the needs of both the business and the individual are best served. It is expected that, as professionals, the EITs and GITs will become ambassadors capable of interfacing with outside agencies, consultants or vendors on behalf of Vale.
Samantha. Most EITs are given an opportunity to pursue a supervisor role with supervisory training, on-the-job shadowing, and full-time roles in operations. These EITs can move back to engineering functions or remain in the operations. In either stream, they can pursue advancing levels of management. After four years, they pursue professional engineering status by successfully completing their law and ethics examination under the Professional Engineers Associations in the various provinces in Canada. Professional engineers have career development paths that include engineering at the mine sites with services to the operations, or within supporting engineering roles with specialty studies and designs in planning, rock mechanics, ventilation, backfill, as well as management opportunities as chief engineers accountable for a team of engineers and technologists at the mine site, or for a team of specialty engineers and technologists looking at long-range design.
Q. Does Vale have a key recruitment period? What should candidates do if they miss it?
Travis. Generally, we post all student placements two to three months prior to the work term on valejobs.ca under our Student and New Graduate Opportunities section, and on TalentEgg.ca, and they are usually posted for at least two weeks. If you’re unable to submit your application during the posting period, there are other options for future consideration:
- Submit an application to our Student/Co-op Future Opportunities posting. Our Recruitment and Selection Analysts review these applications regularly as positions become available.
- Create a “Job Alert” on valejobs.ca to receive notifications when positions of interest are posted. The Job Alert is valid for 30 days, but there is no limit on how many can be set up.
- Monitor our careers page regularly, as new jobs become available frequently, and apply to positions that match your interest and experience.
Q. What is Vale’s application and interview process like?
Travis. Vale’s application process is very candidate friendly. Upon application, applicants receive a notification by email to let them know the application was received. Resumés are reviewed by our Recruitment and Selection Analysts, and candidates who meet the minimum qualifications will receive a preliminary phone call to discuss their skills and experience further. The next steps in the interview process are discussed and the candidate is provided with an estimated timeline. Applicants who are selected to move forward are invited to complete a behavioural interview to assess their fit for the organization as well as a technical interview to assess their ability to be successful in the role.
Q. What are your “top tips” for completing the online application?
Travis. Submitting a resumé is like a first impression: you want to ensure you are perceived accurately, favourably and professionally. One of the most important factors is to ensure that your cover letter and resumé clearly highlight your experience and what you have to offer.
- A cover letter and resumé should be tailored to the position of interest by highlighting the most relevant work experience.
- If there are gaps between jobs or time spent travelling, we want to know about it. Unexplained gaps in employment or educational history can cause confusion and will likely be addressed in an interview anyway.
- Provide start and end dates for previous employment, and be sure to indicate if a previous role was permanent or contract.
- When listing employment history, provide a list of accountabilities and responsibility within each role.
- Be sure to include a cover letter. This is your introduction to Vale where you can be creative and include any information that may not be on the resumé.
Q. How can candidates impress you in the interview?
Travis. Something that really impresses me in an interview is when a candidate comes fully prepared. Researching Vale prior to the interview really grabs my attention and demonstrates a candidate’s motivation to work with us. For preparation, it’s important to reflect upon previous education and employment experience, and consider possible situations that you may want to highlight during your interview. Demonstrating confidence when you respond to the interview questions is also something that impresses me. If you were selected for an interview, you have already been identified as a potential fit for the role, so use the interview to market yourself as the best fit. Finally, ask questions! A candidate that asks questions confirms their interest in the opportunity.
Q. Is there anything else students and recent grads should know?
Ken. It is important to stress that Vale has a proven record of sustaining active EIT and GIT programs. This is demonstrated not only by the numbers of EITs and GITs that have gone through program, but also through the commitment of the co-ordinators and supervisors who ensure the program works. Vale is passionate about offering challenging career opportunities and this has even translated into international assignments for those who demonstrate capabilities. It is rewarding to those involved to see many of the EITs and GITs take on management roles as they move through their careers.