Imagine co-ordinating the Olympics activities at Heathrow, managing a team of 40 volunteers, or co-ordinating the marketing for the London handball and volleyball sites. These are just some of the roles occupied by BP graduates who are on secondment to LOCOG during this summer’s Olympic Games.
“This is a one-off opportunity for us and our graduates. We’re really excited about it,” enthuses Emma Judge, head of graduate resourcing. She explains that all the participants have already been offered employment with BP, and are due to begin their careers in September.
“We wanted to give students the chance to develop skills in a completely unique, intense environment, so we approached LOCOG with the idea. As well as being the oil and gas partner for the Games, we are also London 2012’s sustainability partner, so it’s a brilliant way to support this partnership,” she says.
Making it happen
Emma goes on to describe the process. Once an offer of employment had been made and accepted, every graduate was offered the opportunity to second with LOCOG before starting the graduate scheme at BP. They had to undertake a rigorous recruitment process for a chance to secure one of 100 sought-after positions.
The graduates had to complete a separate application which was submitted to LOCOG by BP on their behalf. LOCOG then interviewed the candidates and roles were allocated according to skill-set and availability. “The roles they’ve been placed in are really great. The graduates are developing their leadership skills, working as part of a team, they’re networking and honing their commercial skills,” she adds.
BP is the only graduate employer placing graduates with LOCOG. During the placement, BP is paying participants an internship salary plus their accommodation and travel costs.
Access all areas
So how is BP showcasing the unique experiences to the rest of the business? “People are intrigued – so we’ve already started to tell the graduates’ stories,” reveals Emma.
“We’re asking them to record their experiences through blogs and video diaries. We’ll be feeding this back to the rest of the business over the summer. This way, other employees get involved and share the experience from a distance.”
To measure the return on investment of this initiative, BP is undertaking a research project with MBA students from Durham University. This will take the form of focus groups where the secondees can give feedback on what they’ve learned, what impact this has had and how this compares to those who did not complete the secondment.
The Games certainly won’t return to London any time soon, so how is BP looking to replicate this ‘once in a lifetime’ experience for graduates in the future?
“If there are clear messages coming back from the research, that secondees have learned and developed particular skills, we would try to incorporate development opportunities into future graduate schemes” says Emma.
Gearing up for the Games
As well as being an official partner and supporting Olympic hopefuls such as Jessica Ennis and Shelly Woods, BP is actively involved with the Games in a variety of ways.
Five UK-based employees are participating in the Olympic torch relay – according to Emma they have been selected because they have their own ‘inspiring stories’. Staff are also involved in mentoring participants on the ‘Young Leaders’ programme, which is designed to give 100 young people the chance to make positive change to their lives and in their communities. Plus, over 100 employees are London 2012 ‘Games Makers’ (volunteers). “Olympic fever is definitely rising,” comments Emma.
Ongoing career development
The graduate initiative comes at an exciting time for BP – this year saw their annual UK graduate recruitment intake increase by 50%, to almost 250 people.
Once on board, career development is taken ‘very seriously’ at BP. Emma concludes: “Today’s graduates are pragmatic. They’ll think, ‘what’s the best opportunity I can get to give me a great start to my career?’ What better way to start your career than working at the Olympics?”
About Emma Judge
Emma joined BP as the UK head of graduate recruitment in 2011 and is responsible for recruiting nearly 400 graduates & interns each year. Before joining BP Emma was head of graduate recruitment operations at Ernst & Young.