• Graduate Employers Guides - BP

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Employer Information

  • Application deadline: 31 January (14 November for Trading discipline)
  • Starting salaries: £31,000 (non-technical) or £33,000 (technical) + £2500 starting bonus, an additional allowance if you are working/living in London and a safety bonus of £80 a day if you work offshore
  • Regions: Primarily Sunbury and Canary Wharf in London and Aberdeen, but also Dorset, Hull, Shetlands, Grangemouth. There may be some opportunity to work abroad but this is rare in your first 3 years. You may express a preference for a specific location but you must be flexible to move to wherever BP locate you.
  • Industries: Oil & gas exploration, production, refining, marketing, trading, retail and renewable energies.
  • email: BP prefer queries through the website, but for specific questions about the graduate programme contact F1 fanatic via PM.

What is BP?

BP is a multinational oil company based in the UK and is the 4th biggest company in the world based on revenue. It deals with all aspects of the oil and gas chain from exploration and production of oil fields around the world, through refining of crude oil and trading to retail at petrol pumps. BP also has a segment dealing with renewable energies and is the world’s largest producer of solar panels.

What roles are available at BP?

Contrary to popular belief, working for BP does not usually constitute working at a petrol station. Although it is possible to apply for a specific position, roles are generally focused around the “Challenger” 3-4 year graduate programme. This is BP’s over-arching E&P graduate programme and within this there are many disciplines that one can go into. These different disciplines include chemical and process engineering, civil engineering, drilling and completions engineering, instrument and control engineering (ICE), mechanical engineering, offshore engineering, petroleum and reservoir engineering, chemical engineering, geoscience, petrophysics, HSSE, commercial, finance, procurement and trading. Extensive detail of what these roles entail is available on the website.

As a BP challenger in a specific discipline you will be assigned to a specific business role within the company for each of your 3-4 years on the challenge programme. You will be part of a team which you will contribute to and who will be responsible for your assignments and specific roles on a day-to-day basis.

BP also offers summer internships lasting for 8-11 weeks and year in industry placements. Internships are available in the same disciplines as the graduate roles above and you will be given a mini project to complete for a specific team.

Application process for BP.

Applications are reviewed on a first come, first serve basis and so you should submit your application as soon as possible. Application is online and before applying, BP like you to fill in an online self-assessment questionnaire which is not considered in the application process but ensures you have the right qualities that BP are looking for.

The formal application process begins with an online application form consisting of basic background questions about your personal details, the role you wish to apply for and a section of competency based questions. Once you have submitted the form you will be required to complete an online psychometric test which should take about 20 minutes. There are 3 parts – verbal, numerical and diagrammatic reasoning.

The next stage of the application process is a first round interview which will last for about a day and will usually be in Sunbury or Aberdeen but BP will refund your travel costs. The interview consists of two parts – a technical interview based on the role that you are applying for and a competency interview which consists of a less formal chat about the skills you have and experiences in your life where you have demonstrated them.

The final stage of the assessment is an assessment centre where you will be invited to attend an event over several days. You will be working within a small team so as to try to recreate a working environment and will be asked to complete a range of individual and group tasks. An offer of employment will then be made if you are deemed suitable.

Decisions on internships are made after the first round of interviews so you are not required to attend the assessment centre. During your internship you will complete a final assessment consisting of a presentation and a technical interview followed by an assessment centre, which will be used to assess whether BP wish to make you an offer for a graduate position. Around 70% of interns are made an offer for graduate positions on the Challenger programme which may start immediately or be deferred.

Entry requirements and type of person suited for BP.

Minimum 2.1 degree (in a science/engineering based degree for technical roles). A masters is also helpful but not essential. A degree or masters in a specific petroleum related discipline is useful but not essential. The position is also conditional on rights to work in the UK and a mandatory substance abuse test.

Future prospects and training at BP.

BP offers an extensive and extremely well structured graduate programme over 3-4 years. The graduate programme is managed by specifically designated people and has been in place for many years. There are over 1200 challengers worldwide who follow the same structured programme.

Each year you will be deployed to a particular team or business unit who you will work for on a day-to-day basis. BP like to throw you in at the deep end and you learn quickly on the job doing real work which is important to the success of the team/company.

Every year you will need to attend particular courses specific to your discipline with around 25-30 days of training each year on both internal and external courses. Each graduate follows a Personal Development Plan tailored to individual needs to ensure that they pick up all the competencies they need. An annual assessment is completed to see how you are performing and to redefine your Personal Development Plan so as to meet the necessary criteria. As a graduate you are also assigned a technical coach to help you with the technical aspects of your discipline and a mentor who will help you with your long term career development.

After 3 years you will graduate from the programme assuming that you have completed the necessary competencies. BP will then help to find you a more long term role within the company from where you may progress down either a technical or management route.

Other comments about BP.

BP is a company which historically has been a caring company for its employees. BP offers a competitive pension scheme which has recently changed from a final salary scheme. Instead of a final salary scheme you will be given a 15% pay increase which you may then choose to put into a pension, or use on something else. On most occasions you are only required to work standard hours (37.25 hours a week) and hours are flexible. So long as you do the work required you can work the hours you want to.

All employees receive credit to buy lunches and food on-site which reduces outside food costs considerably. You are given 25 days of holiday per year initially + 8 public holidays but in the exploration & production segment you can also work an extra hour a day and earn every other Friday off. Your salary is performance based and you may receive bonuses of up to 9% of your salary depending on the performance of you and the business unit you work for. You can also participate in various share schemes and BP will fund chartership and accountancy qualifications if appropriate.


If you have applied to BP, we would like you to hear from you. Please use the following form to detail your experiences of application, to aid those interested in following a similar career path.

Position applied for: Graduate Reservoir Engineer
Year of Application: 2006 (as an intern)
Region: Aberdeen
Educational Background: Physics MPhys at Oxford

What were your experiences of the application process?

I applied to BP initially as an intern, and was offered a graduate position following my internship in the summer of 2007. The application process for the internship is similar to that for a graduate position, but without the assessment centre. When I originally applied for an internship with BP I had no aspirations to enter into the oil industry long term, I was just looking for some technical engineering work experience, which would look good on my CV when applying for graduate roles at the end of my 4th year of university. It pays to be organised and get your application in early. I went to a careers fair and my university careers service early in my 3rd year (September/October time) and BP caught my eye as a high profile company where I could do some real technical work. In my experience, proper technical internships seemed quite hard to come by. BP was not the only company I applied to, but they were the only ones to offer me a position as an intern.

Compared to many companies, I actually found the BP website quite helpful and self explanatory. The first stage of the application process was an online form including obvious questions (name, date of birth, address etc.) and the more generic show me/tell me type questions which are aimed at demonstrating you have awareness of what skills are relevant and how you have been able to demonstrate these skills in a range of activities and interests. Following that there were a couple of online psychometric tests, which as I recall I didn't do too well on but it didn't stop me getting an invite to interview. The interview was held in a hotel in Aberdeen, although some are in London or at various locations around the UK. BP paid for my travel expenses and put me up in a hotel for a night with the interviews running for the whole of the next day. The interview consisted of two main parts, a show me/tell me interview which focused on competencies you had from your own experiences (much more a "typical" job interview) and a technical interview with a couple of BP staff to test your technical knowledge, more like a university interview. The emphasis is on your technical thought process rather than what you know. The interviews were actually quite fun as there were quite a number of other applicants there and the interviewers were fairly laid back.

I heard back fairly quickly on the outcome of my interview, which marks the end of the interview process for an internship but for a graduate position you would carry on to the final stage which is an assessment centre. Over the summer of 2007 I worked for BP in Aberdeen as a PERE (Petroleum/Reservoir Engineer) intern. It gave me a great opportunity to see inside the company and to prove my own abilities. At the end of the internship I had a technical assessment and presented the results of my project which was compared to how I'd done in my original interview. As a result of my performance in that interview I was offered a full-time graduate position starting in September 2008, although the process has now changed slightly and you need to do an assessment centre in addition to the presentation/technical assessment. A high percentage of BP's graduate intake each year have previously done internships with BP and so it's a great way to get into the company.

What is it like working for BP?

BP is a very comfortable company to work for, with very reasonable hours. There is very rarely a need to work beyond your contracted 9-5 hours and in the Exploration and Production segment that I am in you can work 8-5 (or 9-6, as long as you work the hours they're not too fussed) then you can have every second Friday off. This is great as it means you can actually go out into town when things like banks are open, which you really take for granted as a student. The only downside is that you really begin to resent the 5 day working week on the alternate week! There are some great pension and share benefits in addition to a very competitive salary plus a free meal at lunch time. BP strikes me as quite a caring company; some rules and regulations with regards safety can seem a little over the top in the office but I have no doubt that they mean well and genuinely care about the welfare of their employees.

At a slightly more detailed level, I work as a reservoir engineer which means I work on the subsurface team for a particular field in the North Sea and work with geologists and geophysicists to best work out how to extract oil and gas efficiently from a reservoir and to develop reserves of oil to a point where we can extract them. The reservoir engineer deals with dynamic data - pressures and fluid properties to work out how things will flow in the reservoir and owns the computer model that predicts how much hydrocarbons can be recovered in the lifetime of the field. As a graduate "challenger" I am given a surprising amount of responsibility and I do real jobs which have a real impact on the business. This is a nice feeling, as you feel very much that you are part of something and that you really contribute to the success (or failure) of a project. Within months I became the go-to guy on certain aspects and there is a great team dynamic. Teams are often quite small, around 10 people, and so it can be quite close-knit.

How has it compared to your expectations?

My biggest concern coming into the company was whether it would provide the technical challenges that I wanted having come from a Physics background and how I would adapt to a whole new industry about which I knew little. It's actually surprising how quickly you learn a new industry, even when you have no background in it at all. BP is actually quite rare in being quite broad in the disciplines it recruits from and I think this pays off. When you spend every day working on something you quickly get to know it well and pick up the lingo, I am just sad about the amount of physics knowledge that it has pushed out! The technical coaching I have found to be excellent. I have both an official technical coach who I meet up with fortnightly to teach me about reservoir engineering and also unofficial coaches within my team. It has impressed me about BP about how willing people are to teach and to share their knowledge and experience. The training is also excellent and there are not many companies who will allow you 25+ days of training a year.

So far I have found that my job has provided sufficient technical challenges to meet my needs, although I think it is too early to say whether this will be the case long term as there is still the new/exciting aspect to it. from what I have seen there are positions to suit any level of technical detail from management through to technical expert.

When I agreed to work for BP, I did so partly because of the large graduate intake which I hoped would allow me to meet people my age and offer a natural opportunity for long-term friendships. This expectation has been far exceeded as there are over 60 challengers in Aberdeen alone (20 or so in each year) and it is a very close-knit community. The impression I get is that the community is much tighter in Aberdeen than London and I'd recommend anyone to start in Aberdeen and move to London later if they wish. Socially we do a lot of things together both officially and unofficially and there is always someone around and something going on. Compared to some companies where the graduate intake is a lot lower, it is a definite positive.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?

The Challenge graduate programme at BP is 3-4 years long in which time you get experience of many aspects of the Exploration and Production Segment. The aim is for you to have ticked off a set number of competencies by the time that you "graduate" from the challenge programme and these depend on your discipline. At the end of the 3 or 4 years, I believe a graduate to be at their most employable. Currently I see no reason to leave BP in the short-term but I will be staying at least to finish the programme before I leave as I think this will position me best for any future career.

As I have already hinted at I would like to pursue a technical career and personally have no aspirations currently for management, although this is a definite option if you want it and is actually a little better defined in terms of career path than the technical route. After 5 years there may be options for international placements (you can get them earlier but it is unusual) and I'd hope that I would have the qualifications and abilities to be a valued member of the team I worked for.

Finally, any advice you would give to potential applicants?

Before applying to any position make sure that you have a read around of the company website and get as much information as you can. This will help you to better understand what it is they are looking for and to better phrase your responses at interviews and on the application form. I'd definitely recommend the internship as a route into BP as it allows you and the company to get to know each other. It's as much about you being happy with BP as them being happy with you. When considering your options think about the number of other graduates a company intakes and the potential social opportunities. Also think about how well structured their graduate programme is. BP is right up there in this regard. It may seem like the end of the earth, but I would actually recommend Aberdeen over London as a place to be.

--F1fanatic-14915 17:01, 24 July 2009 (BST)

Position applied for:
Year of Application:
Educational Background:

What were your experiences of the application process?

What is it like working for BP?

How has it compared to your expectations?

Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?

Finally, any advice you would give to potential applicants?

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