Preparing to Become a Future Leader in Energy

President and CEO, The Oxford Princeton Programme

My company, The Oxford Princeton Programme, a provider of training for energy industry professionals, recently conducted our first Future Business Leaders of the 21st Century Scholarship competition in North America. At the end of the competition, eight students stood out from the rest. Though they came from diverse backgrounds and unique perspectives, their applications also made it abundantly clear that they all possess several fundamental traits needed to succeed in the energy industry.

If you too share their passion for innovating the energy sector, you may find yourself in the descriptions below as you chart your path toward this rewarding career.

Figure out what you want first

The energy industry is home to an unmatched set of diverse career opportunities that span both distance and job function. The vast opportunities can make identifying your niche an intimidating task. Instead, step back and assess your own strengths, weaknesses, interests, and goals to see how they matchup with job functions.

Do you have the acumen for business and nerves to handle a commodity-trading desk? Maybe your technical skills will lead to managing the pipeline that provides natural gas and warmth to millions of homes and businesses in the winter months? Or, perhaps your path will take you to energy law, where you can address national security in energy, utility regulation, or policy reform?

Energy jobs are not one size fits all, but the energy industry offers an array of opportunities and career choices for everyone. The key is to identify what part of the industry is best for you.

Think global, not local

A common mistake made by aspiring young energy professionals is the inclination to think about energy on a local level. It’s easy to get wrapped up in local gas and electricity prices. However, it is important to recognize that the energy industry is by far the most dynamic geopolitical industry. It is a virtual certainty that your career in energy will involve doing business with professionals from around the globe. Therefore, it is not just a luxury to be well versed on foreign affairs, a global perspective is expected.

With that in mind, take the time to understand the unique characteristics of foreign energy markets and how they influence each other. Seeing the big picture outside of your country is critical to amassing the knowledge required to succeed in the energy industry.

Use your license to learn

Many believe that receiving your college diploma culminates your educational career. Nothing could be farther from the truth! In fact, most successful energy employers view diplomas as a license to learn. Potential energy employers must be confident that you will continue to acquire knowledge and develop skills necessary to excel in your career and positively impact the company (and the industry).

To avoid costly skills gaps, most organizations have well-established learning and development (L&D) departments that will onboard new employees through both internal and external energy education. Make it a priority to ask all potential employers about their respective L&D efforts.

Ask potential employers how you can best take advantage of company L&D efforts to ensure that you hit the ground running. This will show the employer that you are serious about the position and want to make an immediate and lasting positive impact.

Once you’ve landed your job, be sure to follow through and take advantage of every training opportunity afforded to you on an ongoing basis. Continually learning throughout your energy career, no matter your experience level, is crucial to developing and maintaining the skills necessary to prosper professionally on this dynamic and global stage.

To learn more about the scholarship and read the winning essays, click here.

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