Industrial Interviews: Maria Frogley Agenjo
Chemical engineers at work 26th May 2016
Hi everyone. After a busy semester with my design project I’m back with an industrial placement interview. I got to chat with Maria Frogley Agenjo , a fourth year student who has already completed her year in industry at ExxonMobil and used it to help her secure a graduate role. There’s lots to be learnt from this one, so lets get stuck in.
Hi Maria, thanks for taking the time to have a chat. What did your average day at ExxonMobil consist of?
My role as Offsites Support Engineer involved daily monitoring of product quality and monthly mass and energy balance reporting. I completed multiple site visits to tankage farms, product blending facilities and to the marine terminal for product exports. I worked closely with both a technical and operational team on daily troubleshooting tasks and was fortunate enough to lead and participate in several margin improvement and safety projects throughout the course of the year.
What skills do you feel you learnt that students without Industrial Experience may lack?
I feel that I greatly developed my communication and presentation skills throughout the year. I developed a wide appreciation for safety through participating in HAZOPs (hazard and operability study) and resolving HAZOP actions. Most importantly I gained a thorough understanding of the refining process and learnt about the daily troubles faced by engineers on a manufacturing plant which I believe can only be obtained through an industrial placement. Through completing design projects at work and regular troubleshooting I feel I was very prepared for the Process Control and Design modules in my final year.
What was your favourite part about your Industrial Experience role?
My favourite part of my placement was the excitement in carrying out projects that would make a difference. Every day was different and I never did the same job twice which I believe made the experience far more educational. I thoroughly enjoyed working with engineers of multiple disciplines and visiting the different areas of the refinery and chemicals plant.
What are your interests outside of chemical engineering? What do you do in your spare time?
Throughout my time at university I have been a member of a choir, the ChemEng netball team and a PASS leader. I have also volunteered as a UCAS ambassador, been part of the Chemical Engineering Society and Frank Morton Society and participated in a Global Brigades initiative in Ghana. Whilst on my placement year I was actively involved in organising events for the ExxonMobil healthy living group and I volunteered a local Girl Guides unit. In my free time I enjoy cooking, flamenco dancing and swimming.
Any advice for students contemplating doing an Industrial Experience placement?
For those completing an Industrial Experience year, my main advice is to manage your time with completing the academic requirements for the year. I found it very useful keeping in contact regularly with my friends also on placement and to have regular phone calls with my industrial tutor with regards to completing my dissertation. For the most educational experience on placement, I would recommended taking every opportunity to get involved in site shut down and maintenance events and to participate in projects. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and meet as many colleagues as possible!
Did your experience influence the graduate roles you applied for?
Yes, since I had a very positive experience with many opportunities within the oil and gas industry I decided to apply to graduate positions in this area. I also applied to multiple jobs in other industries which would offer me operational, technical, design and commercial exposure throughout a graduate scheme as this was similar to the role I completed whilst on placement.
How do you feel Industrial Experience benefited your graduate job search?
I feel it was very beneficial to talk about some of my key achievements of my industrial placement in interviews and assessment centres. Having an appreciation for real life plant operation and the opportunity to talk about the skills I’d developed through working with others really helped.
What will your upcoming job consist of?
My upcoming graduate job with Bechtel Oil, Gas and Chemicals will consist of retrofit and new design work on LNG plants worldwide. I am looking forward to working on these large scale projects and having the opportunity to travel the world.
What skills that you learnt on placement do you expect to use in your upcoming job?
I anticipate I will be using all of the transferable skills I acquired on placement including: communication, leadership, project management, time management and presentation skills. In addition some of the analysis and problem solving skills through troubleshooting will be applied.
What are the prospects in the future for your upcoming role?
In the next 5-10 years I hope to be a chartered engineer working on oil and gas projects across the world. I hope to have had experience in plant commissioning and to also work in research and development of new oil and gas technologies.
Any final advice to prospective chemical engineering students?
I would recommend Manchester as a university for chemical engineering and for those wanting a challenge and willing to enter a career in engineering on graduating I would recommend pursuing the Industrial Experience course. I’d definitely recommend attending as many networking events as possible from the start and engaging in extra-curricular activities early to achieve the best student experience.
Thanks Maria! All the best with your new job. Coming up we’ll have a piece on the Manchester Graduate Programme, a really great opportunity for University of Manchester students to secure graduate roles.
See you next time!
Words – Sam Peckett