Sebastian’s BP Internship

Sebastian Hirsz was fortunate enough to undertake an internship with BP while studying at Oxford and has offered to share his experiences with us here. Thanks Sebastian!
Sebastian Hirsz

• What did you study at University and did you enjoy it?
I studied Chemistry (MChem) and found it to be a very intellectually challenging course. It was great tackling difficult subjects like quantum mechanics. I pursued chemistry for my studies and career because I have always found it an exciting and fascinating subject that underpins technology… and technology affects everyone!

• What, in brief, did you do on your internship?
During the summer of 2011, I was a Chemistry Intern in the marine lubricants development team and my project was to investigate reducing friction losses in marine engines. Reducing friction results in greater engine efficiency and, considering the size of these engines and the duration they run for, even a tiny reduction in friction can result in a material benefit to the customer. I formulated, blended, and tested oils to investigate different variables that may reduce friction and then presented my findings to the marine team and wrote a report. The project was very interesting and even though I was only there for 11 weeks, I felt like a valuable member of the marine team.

• Did you receive any funding/were you paid by BP? If yes, what difference did this make?
I was paid £25,000 per annum pro rata which made a massive difference as it meant I could live close to work and save money for my final year at university – the student loan itself is nowhere near enough!

• How did you come to work at BP? Was it a direct result of your internship?
As my line manager was pleased with my performance over the internship, he recommended me to HR for a place at the graduate assessment centre to be considered for a permanent role. Having been successful at the assessment centre, I was offered a graduate position at BP for the following September (2012). Subsequent to this, a unique opportunity was offered to graduates starting on the BP Graduate programme in September 2012 to go on a 3 month secondment to LOCOG (London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games), prior to commencing the BP Graduate Scheme. This was an opportunity I seized right away and I was placed into the role of team leader which provided me with invaluable management experience that I can apply during my career.

• What do you do in your job now and do the skills you learned on your internship help you in your job?
Now I am a graduate technologist in fuels and lubricants development at BP. The graduate scheme here requires graduates to complete 3 x 9 month placements in different teams in the business area. I have completed my first placement in the engine testing facility where I was responsible for the test submission, development and data processing of various machines. I am now based in the energy and ancillaries lubricants team where I am working on the development of hydraulic and compressor oils and I also assist the mining technical services team. I am also responsible for a development programme for the motorsport team. The knowledge and skills I gained during my internship have really allowed me to hit the ground running here at BP as I have already gained some of the basic skills required from both a technical and project management point of view. The project management skills I gained over my internship even helped me in my final year of my degree when I managed my own surface chemistry research project.


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