Office Hours: Advice On Suncor Energy’s Co-ops, Internships and New Grad Program

by

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013 was an egg-citing day at TalentEgg! Suncor Energy Campus Recruiter Heather MacIntyre joined us for Office Hours to offer tips on hatching your oil and gas career with Canada’s largest energy company – just in time to apply for the dozens of co-op and summer positions Suncor is currently hiring for!

Office Hours is a live online chat event that lets you ask industry eggs-perts your most pressing career questions. Heather fielded questions about Suncor’s application process, co-op and internship requirements, career paths at Suncor, and more.

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

TalentEgg Hayley

Welcome to Office Hours, TalentEgg-ers! My name is Hayley and I’ll be moderating today’s chat.

Our eggs-pert guest today is Suncor Energy Campus Recruiter Heather MacIntyre!

Over the next hour, you can send her your questions about career opportunities at Suncor, learn how to stand out to Suncor recruiters and get tips for successfully hatching your career in the oil and gas industry. You can start submitting your questions now.

Heather, could you please tell the audience a bit about yourself?

Heather

Hello! I’m Heather MacIntyre, one of the Campus Recruiters at Suncor Energy! I look forward to answering all of your questions this afternoon!

TalentEgg Hayley

Great, thanks Heather! Let’s kick off with a question that was submitted in advance:

Chris Maierhoffer, an Industrial Systems Engineering student at the University of Regina, asks: What type of work would I do in an Engineering co-op placement at Suncor?

Heather

Many of our roles are not specifically targeted toward Industrial System Engineering students because that is a very specialized type of engineering program that not a lot of students are in. However, we do have roles that might apply to Industrial System Engineers, which are advertised on our website as recruiting Mechanical Engineers (or similar) instead.

Comment From Mohamed Abdi

Hello. I am an Engineering graduate. Can I still apply to co-op positions?

Heather

Hello! Unfortunately if you are graduating, you are no longer eligible for the student co-op roles. We like to keep our co-op roles just for students so that they can fairly compete against other candidates at the same level. Additionally, we want to make sure that the role is challenging – a graduate may not find a student role challenging enough for them. You would be a better fit for new grad roles or other entry level positions instead!

Comment From Ahmed Abdelrahman

I’m a third-year Accounting and Finance student from the University of Alberta. My question is: What are the key things recruiters keep an eye out for on applications, specifically the cover letter and resume?

Heather

Good question! When I look at student resumes, the best thing a student can do is be clear! I am looking for your educational background (major/minor), what year you are in, when you are graduating (month and year), and the length of term that you are available for. If you can show me that information clearly then that is a huge help! Additionally, because students don’t have a lot of relevant work experience, we look at marks, extra-curricular activities and volunteer activities.

Comment From metah88

What are recruiters specifically looking when they are hiring co-op students or new graduates?

Heather

We are looking for key information (as mentioned above) like major/minor, anticipated graduation date, length of term (if co-op), marks, extra-curricular activities, volunteer activities and so on. Overall, though, it can depend significantly on the role you are applying for. Hiring managers often have very different priorities for what they are looking for in applicants.

Your best bet is to be clear on your resume about what you are looking for, prepare a professional cover letter and resume (get a second, third or fourth opinion on it!), and ensure that you are a well-rounded applicant by having good grades and extra-curricular involvement.

TalentEgg Hayley

Thanks Heather! Let’s hear from another student who submitted a question in advance:

Amanda Wu, a Geology student at the University of Alberta, asks: How many major projects do Geology students work on? In the Geology co-op program, would there be any substantial difference in what we do in Fort McMurray as opposed to Calgary?

Heather

Hi Amanda! We have hired a number of Geology students to start with us this summer. They will be working on a variety of projects. Some will focus on bigger projects while others will do smaller, more day-to-day assignments.

Students who work in Fort McMurray have greater opportunities to go into the field and see first-hand what they are working on. It can be a very interesting experience, and can really help you get a better understanding of the oil and gas industry as a whole.

Comment From Hardeep Hothi

Hey Heather, I’m a third-year Business student at the University of Alberta with a Marketing major. What does Suncor look for in regard to your Marketing co-op positions?  Does it matter what school you are from? Are leadership skills important?

Heather

Hi Hardeep. We actually recruit students from schools across Canada, so it does not matter what school you are from. Leadership skills are important, but we also look at marks, extra-curricular activities and prior work experience (even experiences that may not necessarily related to the role you are applying for). Also, depending on the role, we may be looking for special skills in a certain area of marketing (since it is quite broad).

Comment From Helen Zhao

I am a new grad (BComm) and currently pursuing a Supply Chain Management (SCM) designation. I’m interested in Suncor Energy’s SCM New Grad Program. Could you please tell me what Suncor looks for in particular, other than the candidate’s values, experience, skills and personality?

Heather

Hi Helen! On top of everything that you already mentioned, we are also looking for candidates who would like to be in SCM in the long-term. The director who manages the SCM New Grad Program sees it as the portal for our future SCM leaders at Suncor, so new grads are hired based on whether they have (or will develop) strong leadership skills, and whether they would like to be in SCM long term.

Comment From Bawneet

Hello, Heather. I want to apply for a co-op at Suncor. What roles do you specifically offer for Industrial Engineers?

Heather

We do have a few postings online currently, although they are not specific to Industrial Engineers. If you go on our website and check out requisitions 27897 and 28102, you may be interested in those depending on your background, year of school, availability and so forth. Our postings close on January 31st, though, so don’t wait too long to apply.

Comment From NafizIqbal

Hi Heather. I am a Mechanical Engineering student in my third year of studies at University of Calgary. My question is: In co-op listings, recruiters mention whether the job is for Mechanical, Chemical, Electrical or any other Engineering students. Many times I see that I am qualified to do all the tasks and responsibilities mentioned, but the listing is for other Engineering students, not for Mechanical Engineers. Since I qualify for these kind of positions, should I still apply to them even though the job was not posted for Mechanical Engineering students?

Heather

If you genuinely think that you are a good fit for the role, it is up to you to prove that with your cover letter and resume. Use that opportunity to present a strong argument as to why you would be a good fit for the role and highlight some of your courses to demonstrate that you have the knowledge for that position.

TalentEgg Hayley

Here’s another question that was submitted prior to this event:

Paul Kim, a Chemical Engineering student at UBC, asks: What experience and training can new graduates expect to gain as part of the New Grad Program?

Heather

Good question Paul! Through our EIT New Grad Rotational Program, new grads have the opportunity to try out different areas of the company. It’s a great way to get a well-rounded view of the company/industry, and also really helps you decide where you want to be in the long-term and where you want your career to go. Our roles can be quite different – anywhere from an office job in our in-situ department at our Calgary office, to a role in the field in Fort McMurray, to working at our refinery in Sarnia, Ontario. The program is a fantastic way to give you the experiences that you are looking for and really helps broaden your knowledge.

TalentEgg Hayley

Thanks Heather!

For more on Suncor’s Energy’s New Grad Program, be sure to check out this behind-the-scenes video!

Comment From Mohamed Abdi

Are their opportunities for ongoing training at Suncor Energy?

Heather

Hi Mohamed! Absolutely! We have lots of training opportunities at Suncor! From a student perspective, you will have a lot of learning to do when you first come to the company. Depending on the role, there may be some courses that you may have to complete (either online or in classroom) in order to complete your job.

From a full-time employee perspective, we also have lots of training opportunities. Employees are encouraged to take at least one course each year to broaden your knowledge and depth of understanding. Additionally, every employee has a development plan, so you choose the skills that you would like to develop throughout the year.

Comment From Jegadhish Thangavel

I’d like to know more about your selection process. What happens after a resume is selected?

Heather

Hi Jegadhish! Good question! Right now we have all of our roles posted and, as you apply, we are reviewing your resumes, so usually your resume is reviewed within a couple of days of you submitting it. Once the positions have closed, we send a shortlist to the hiring manager with the candidates that we think will be the best fit for the role. From there, the hiring manager selects the top students that they would like to bring in for an interview. For most student co-op roles, we will only have one round of interviews, whereas for most new grad roles we have two interview rounds.

Keep in mind that this is our usual process – sometimes different roles require that we do things differently.

Comment From Loida

Hello Heather. What kind of jobs does Suncor offer to environmental students?

Heather

Hi Loida! Good question! I’m actually recruiting for environmental students right now! Check out requisitions 28287 and 28246 and 27106 on our website and see if they are the right fit for you. We really value our environmental groups (e.g., tailings ponds, reclamation, wind farms, ethanol, etc.) so we have a high demand for people with environmental sciences backgrounds.

Comment From Faye

Can you tell me about entry level Geologist positions in Calgary and Fort McMurray?  What qualifications and skills do we need?

Heather

Hi Faye! We have already hired our Geology positions for May-August in Calgary. However, we do have a posting up right now for Geology students in Fort McMurray, commencing in September. Check out requisition 28225 to see if it is the right fit for you.

If you are looking for a Geology position for May 2014, most of our hiring for those roles will begin in September!

TalentEgg Hayley

I think this is a good time for our poll!

Why do you want a co-op/internship with Suncor Energy?

  • Suncor offers the best career path/opportunities for advancement (36%)
  • I want to gain experience in the oil and gas industry (29%)
  • I want my oil and gas experience to be with Canada’s largest energy company (36%)

TalentEgg Hayley

Let’s take a look at another question that was submitted in advance:

Pavan, an Electrical Engineering student at the University of Victoria, asks: Does Suncor only look for excellent technical knowledge or do they also look at soft skills, like communication skills and the ability to learn quickly based on past experiences?

Heather

Hi Pavan, that’s a really good question. Absolutely we look for soft skills as well. It is important that you can take the technical knowledge that you have gained in school and apply it to the work setting. From there, we require the ability to learn the workplace process quickly, communicate your knowledge/information/findings, and work well with your team. Generally, you will get through to the resume screening stage based on technical skills, and then the interview stage is your chance to really let your soft skills shine and show the hiring managers that you would be a good teammate to work with every day!

Comment From Boikobo Ramatebele

I would like to know what your general GPA cut-off is for Mining Engineering student positions.

Heather

Hi Boikobo! We don’t have a GPA cut-off for any of our student roles at Suncor. Marks are important, but we really look at the bigger picture. If you have relevant work experience, great volunteer work and/or a lot of involvement in your school, that can weigh very heavily on a hiring manager’s decision as to which candidates they would like to bring in for an interview. Marks show SOME of the picture, but we definitely look for students who take initiative to get involved and develop their leadership, communication and teamwork skills outside of the classroom as well.

Comment From Aimee

Hi Heather! My name is Aimee Zhou and I am a Commerce student at University of Victoria. What  are you looking for during interviews when selecting co-op students?

Heather

Hi Aimee! We have hired a lot of UVic students in the past few years. 🙂

At the interview stage, hiring managers take a closer look at your technical skills, but also look for your soft skills. Interviews give you a chance to answer behavioural questions with great examples of your past experiences and show how you resolved problems, took initiative, set goals, communicated, worked as a team, showed leadership skills and so forth. The hiring managers are looking for candidates who can do the job, but who would also fit in well with the team and be a pleasure to work with every day.

Sometimes interviews can be very nerve-wracking and it’s difficult to shine, so I would recommend practising quite a bit before every interview. That will allow you to feel more confident and comfortable in the interview and let your true personality shine.

Comment From Michael Nedu

I am a third-year Process Engineering student at Memorial University and am looking forward to getting oil and gas industry experience. Are there any Process jobs available during the summer ?

Heather

Hi Michael! Yes, we are hiring a few Process Engineering students this summer. Check out requisitions 28346 and 27962 to see if they are the right fit for you. Also, there are other roles that are looking for a variety of different types of Engineers, so be sure to look at other postings too.

Comment From Mohamed Abdi

We all know soft skills are important, but having the right technical skills are also important. For an Engineering applicant, do you prefer someone with experience in simulation software over someone who has taken specialized courses? What type of technical skills do you put at the top of your list when looking at resumes?

Heather

Hi Mohamed! One of the reasons why we reserve co-op roles just for students is that we expect the people who come into these roles will not have a huge amount of experience. It is very difficult to speak generally for all of the positions that we have, but I would recommend that you check out each job description individually to see if you have the technical and soft skills required. They will be listed in terms of the degree/major required, the year of school the applicant should be in and any other experience that could come into play. If you have experience in the items listed, be sure to highlight this on your resume and cover letter so that it is clear that you have this background.

TalentEgg Hayley

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! Heather, do you have any final comments?

Heather

Thanks everyone for all of the great questions! I was really impressed with them! I recognize a lot of the names as candidates who have already applied to us, so thanks for coming in to the TalentEgg session. For anyone who has not yet applied, check out our website and see if there are any roles that you think you might be a good fit for. Most of our roles close on January 31st, so I would encourage you to get in there early! If you have more questions, please feel free to connect with us on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, and we’d love to hear from you.

Thanks everyone for logging on and chatting with me today! I had a lot of fun. 🙂

TalentEgg Hayley

Thanks Heather!

If you’re looking for more information on careers with Suncor Energy, visit their TalentEgg profile. They are currently hiring for dozens of co-op and summer positions, so check it out!

Thanks again for joining us today, TalentEgg-ers! Keep your eyes on our Twitter feed and Facebook page for upcoming Office Hours events!

Share
About the author

Hayley Mullen is the Community Manager at TalentEgg. After receiving her BA in Philosophy and Postgraduate Certificate in Advertising Copywriting, she worked as Content and Community Manager at a mobile software startup. She loves travelling, celebrity gossip blogs and any kind of dog.