The days are never boring at Axpo. Alexandra Garcia, Axpo’s Campus Marketing & Traineeships Lead, tells us about the career start opportunities for new graduates
By Yulia Yuts
poly-E-fair Company Relations Manager
March 22, 2021
By Yulia Yuts
poly-E-fair Company Relations Manager
March 22, 2021
Approaching ETH Zurich’s poly-E-fair, we spoke with Alexandra Garcia, Campus Marketing & Traineeship Lead. As her title suggests, Alexandra is responsible for the Axpo traineeship programme and has recruited five cycles of trainees. After each trainee programme ended, it achieved 100% retention rate. Alexandra shared with us the ideal working profiles Axpo is looking for, she gave us insight into what the traineeship involves, and explained the differences between an internship and a traineeship. Alexandra also provided tips for new graduates who would like to pursue a career in the energy sector.
Alexandra, what professional profile does Axpo look for?
Axpo is a very diverse company. We have more than 150 different profiles: engineers, data scientists, IT specialists, economists, analysts, project managers, and so many more. They all face different daily challenges in their job and thus require different sets of skills. Therefore, for Axpo, it is crucial to have a hiring process that allows us to acquire a suitable candidate from the very beginning of the recruitment process. This commitment is beneficial both to the candidate and the company in the long run. Working closely with partners in the Axpo businesses we can get the best talent to strategically build the profile we need for the future.
“We are all on a learning path throughout our entire professional life.”
Besides a technical background, it is valuable for Axpo to understand the wider skills and interests candidates have. For example, we live in a digital world where data science and analytics as well as economic knowledge play a crucial role in understanding our businesses and its KPIs. And when it comes to such a competitive and impactful market as energy and its transition to renewable sources, the motivation to learn new things is key. People need to have a skill set that is up to date with the current reality of the business. We are all on a learning path throughout our entire professional life.
What opportunities do Axpo offer for new graduates?
Students and graduates can apply for a variety of career opportunities at Axpo: internships, master’s and bachelor’s thesis (in collaboration with ETH), traineeships, or direct entry positions. Usually, we opt for students with a background in engineering, informatics, mathematics or physics.
The main difference between an internship and traineeship is the timeframe, and also the educational background. Internships last exactly six months and are an excellent option to gain work experience. An internship allows the student to get a deeper understanding of their field of study, and helps them to decide which path to take after they graduate. Since it is a learning process, people can think carefully about their career choices.
Our traineeship is an 18-months programme for new master’s graduates. The trainees rotate among three different departments, giving them a valuable opportunity to have a broad understanding of the businesses at Axpo, and a better insight into the company from different perspectives. Applications for traineeship positions open twice a year: in April and in October. Each time we hire three graduates. For our next round, in autumn 2021, as an example, we are looking for two trainees in the field of data science for our two main business areas Generation & Distribution and Trading & Sales. These trainees will get a great opportunity to develop novel algorithms or create new business cases based on our data.
It is important to also mention our career events. Besides job fairs, a great example of an event is Axpo’s Machine Learning Hackathon, where participants have a chance to collaborate with Axpo representatives, solving exciting and challenging problems facing the energy industry. To participate in the Hackathon, students can apply on our website and we expect the next event to occur in summer 2021.
What are the requirements for applicants in the traineeship programme, and why should they consider visiting poly-E-fair?
Traineeship programmes provide an amazing opportunity for trainees to develop new skills and leave their comfort zone, they give a good insight into different parts of the company. After having been with Axpo for some time, the trainees build up a huge professional knowledge and a large network within the company across several departments. This enables them to know where to get specific information they may need for their project. This cross-divisional collaboration is a big advantage. And, of course, there are skills learned in one project that can later be used in different business areas.
We are open to all applications for our trainee programme and there are only two major requirements: a master’s degree and less than a year’s work experience. Applicants should be motivated to work at Axpo and in the energy industry. They should be passionate to learn new things and bring new ideas. They should also have an entrepreneurial mindset and be someone who goes the extra mile to achieve results. They should be proactive and independent, with a desire to leave an impact. In the recruitment process, we focus on getting to know the applicants better to see if there is a cultural fit. During virtual interviews and a selection day, applicants get to meet with potential future supervisors, and are challenged with an assignment including a particular case study and a presentation.
Axpo has two main business languages: German and English, depending on the business area. Since the trainees interreact with German-speaking divisions, such as the power division, a motivation to learn German is a big plus. Because Axpo operates internationally, knowing English is also an important asset.
The poly-E-fair 2021 is a great opportunity to meet Axpo representatives and ask them questions. We have a landing page showing all the company representatives that will be present at the Axpo booth on the day of the fair. Applicants are invited to check representative profiles and ask specific questions for the different career opportunities or get information about what is going on behind the scenes. It is definitely important that candidates knows what they want. However, if candidates are hesitant about their career direction, they should definitely know what they don’t want to do. That is a good starting point when deciding on future career steps. A further important point is to connect with us on LinkedIn to get noticed. We won’t collect CVs during the poly-E-fair 2021, but people will be able to apply on our website.
What opportunities are there to stay and grow in the company after a traineeship?
Over the last 4 years, we have had a 100% retention rate for our trainees. The recruitment process ensures that we select the best candidates to match our culture, values and teams. When trainees do a good job and create added value from the start, their team members notice. It is quite common for trainees to stay within the department they completed one of their three assignments in, and sometimes a new position is created especially for them. Axpo’s main idea is to develop young professionals and allow them to grow with us, offering them an ideal career start.
“Axpo’s main idea is to develop young professionals.”
In the end, all employees are responsible for their own career path, and should take the initiative. The employee should not be afraid to communicate their desired career path with colleagues and superiors. Individual growth is very important. Axpo have an internal talent programme that gives us an overview of talented people who could collaborate in different projects. It also includes a mentoring programme that directs employees to the path they want to take. The programmes offer a chance to build-up a group-wide network and be part of the trainee community, this allows trainees to be connected with employees in the whole company. It’s a great programme with a lot of advantages for graduates.
And what about Axpo’s culture and values?
Axpo doesn’t have just one culture. Since Axpo is driven by the businesses we operate in, working in a nuclear or hydropower plant would feel different for instance, from working in an international trading environment. Generally speaking however, we always value new ideas and entrepreneurial behaviour, where employees own and develop their projects, which of course comes with different levels of responsibility. The digital mindset, reliability and sustainability are crucial for Axpo. During the COVID pandemic, those are factors we noticed contributed to the successful transition to home office. Our company offers a diverse working environment, full of challenges to be solved. The days are never boring, and you have a lot of fun working at Axpo.