A new generation is rapidly entering the workforce. They have greater expectations and demands for employers than ever before. In addition to salary, status and perks, employers are also expected to deliver in areas such as diversity, learning, social responsibility and flexibility.

Here four young talents provide their take about their first encounters with Equinor.
Do we deliver the goods?

Tina Birgitte Hognestad

From graduate to leader in two years

It’s easy to imagine that Tina Birgitte Hognestad has more hours in a day than the rest of us. She says she is motivated by enthusiasm.

“I quickly turn restless and unhappy when things are too standard.” 

Tina Birgitte Hognestad leads the way through the corridors of the Equinor office in Stavanger. Over the course of two years in the company, she has climbed from a position as learning assistant to consultant – now also as team leader, the boss’s right hand. 

“That’s what pulled me in this direction, that I wanted to try out different roles. That and the flexibility,” she says. 

In addition to her job, she must also find room for two equal passions: volunteering for the Norwegian Cancer Society and crossing off places on her dream destinations list.

“My background includes both teaching and milieu therapy, and I have a master’s degree in human resource management. It was certainly not a given that I would go in this direction, but I heard about the graduate programme and decided to apply. When I got in there and gained deeper insight into the organisation, I realised that this is where I wanted to be.”

Passions
When we meet, Tina Birgitte has just returned from two weeks of backpacking in Japan. Smiles turn to grins as she happily clicks her way through photos from the adventure: cherry blossom time, the architecture, the people. 

“It was different than any other place I had ever been. Experiencing new cultures and new people is a big part of the joy of travelling. On the job, I am passionate about diversity, equality and management development. That is kind of a recurring theme in everything I do.”

Enthusiasm and drive were two qualities Equinor soon noted during the two-year graduate programme.

“When I started here, I spent a lot of time working with digitalisation and establishing the digital academy, which was incredibly educational. After a year, I moved over to the corporate section of People and Leadership, where I had an opportunity to practice my leadership skills by being project manager for both smaller and larger projects. I gained a whole new understanding of working strategically and always wearing “the Equinor hat”. After a year in that role, I was offered a permanent job as team leader. A very unaccustomed position for me, but an extremely exciting job where I get to work with management development, ethics, learning and lots more.”

It's perfect for me to have a job with plenty of flexibility. For me, it is simply not an alternative to reject the things that are near and dear to me. These are things that also make me even more motivated on the job.

Motivated by active leisure time
When Tina Birgitte travels, it is often in the direction of a concert. She likes to be where people are, talk to – and learn from others. In the Norwegian Cancer Society, she heads a support initiative for children who are next-of-kin, a position she has kept throughout both double full-time jobs and studies. She also donates her free time to her work as a support person. 

She is one of those people who seem to have an endless number of hours in their days.  

Do you really have more hours in a day than us regular folks?
Tina Birgitte just laughs: “No, but it is perfect for me to have a job with plenty of flexibility. For me, it is simply not an alternative to reject the things that are near and dear to me. These are things that also make me even more motivated on the job.”

What is your dream for the future?
“My goal is to be able to move into higher-level management positions, in time. In the future, I want to learn the core industry – the actual production of energy – even better. After my trip to Japan, a place I had long dreamt of, I also realised that it would be really exciting to be stationed at the office in Tokyo. I’ve become one of those irritating people after that trip; you know, who always recalls ‘you know, when I was in Japan…’. I catch myself doing that a bit too often.” 

Ida Marie Fjellheim

The whole world as a workplace

For Ida Marie Fjellheim, what was supposed to be one year in London as a graduate turned into five years and a job in Equinor.  

The sky over Paddington is gearing up for autumn rain. Suit-clad men and women wearing coats scurry between high-rises and hip cafes, headed for their respective offices. For five years, Ida Marie Fjellheim has hurried alongside them, on her way to Equinor’s office in London. Now the time is approaching for her return to Norway and the Oslo office. 

“The original plan was one year here as part of the graduate programme, but one year soon turned into five. I have really grown to love this city, but at the same time, I feel that it’s about time to take all the experience I have gained here back home.”

All in one
Ida has settled into the most archetypical British area in the entire office; the tea area. When colleagues pop in, she engages in small-talk with a flawless British accent. 

“They say that if you’re tired of London, then you’re tired of life. Without taking this too literally, there is definitely something to the saying. For me, who appreciates nightlife, culture, new impulses and an active life even though I live in a city, I get everything rolled into one here. The reality that I will be returning to Norway soon is about the fact that I both studied abroad, and eventually stayed here. I’m from Fjellhamar outside Oslo originally, but I haven’t lived anywhere near Oslo for ten years. Now that I have been given such a super-exciting opportunity back home, it feels right to establish a base there again..” 

The only thing I was really sure about during my studies is that I wanted to work in a large company – but I also wanted to be in a place where I felt that I would be seen and followed up.

Back home to the dream team
The road to Equinor ran via the graduate programme, which consists of three rotations in the company over three years. In the first year, Ida worked with Performance Management. The second year took her to London and the strategy team – where she ended up staying in the same department as the boss’ right hand. Back in Oslo she will become part of Investor Relations.

“I got a fairly broad education within finance so that I could have variety in my work, rather than getting locked into something specific. The only thing I was really sure about during my studies is that I wanted to work in a large company – but I also wanted to be in a place where I felt that I would be seen and followed up.”

So you ended up here?
“Yes, Equinor turned out to be all of that. Even though I have been at the same place for quite a while, my work has been incredibly varied, and I have also had the opportunity to travel all over the world. There are enormous opportunities here – for example, my team is made up of 60 people with 25 different nationalities. I love that diversity.”

Direct your gaze outward
After breaking for coffee and treats with her colleagues, it’s time to get some air. The London office is situated just metres from “Little Venice”, an idyllic canal area in Westminster. After five years, Ida isn’t hiding the fact that leaving her favourite city feels like a big step.

“It’s going to be very strange, but yet right. I was 20 years old when I first moved to England and 25 when I started working here. When you come from a small country like Norway, I think it’s essential to gain a perspective from the outside world.”

How so?
“While we are starting to become more global in Norway, we aren’t quite there yet. In big foreign cities, like here, you meet a broader range of people and you are exposed to greater diversity. I’m not going to lie – it was actually fairly difficult during my first year of studies. I didn’t have a good enough grasp of the language, and while the culture is the same as Norway in many ways, it is also very different. Having said that: I think that is the case for most people in my situation, and things do get better.”

Ida thinks her career would have looked very different if she had not left the nest.

“I don’t think I would have got the job I have today without international experience – in any event, it would have been a much longer path. Also, being abroad has opened my eyes to all the opportunities around the world.”

She concludes: “If I were to give advice to others who would like to have the whole world as their workplace, then I would suggest that they do exactly what I have done ... spend a year or more outside your own country and apply for a graduate job that gives you broad experience.”

Kristoffer Gjerde

Dress rehearsal

As a student, Kristoffer Gjerde has wondered whether his studies match up with his reality. As an intern in Equinor, he found the answer – and then some.

“I’ve always liked finding out how things work, particularly within computers and technology. That interest has certainly not diminished when we see everything going on with digitalisation today.”

Kristoffer Gjerde, intern in the IT department at Equinor in Stavanger, has set a firm course for the coffee machine. Since he started his intern period, he has taken advantage of the break from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) classroom to gain valuable work experience. While his buddies bask in the tropical summer, this intern is basking in a sea of data.

“That first cup of coffee is totally critical,” he says.

First coffee, then the team meeting. That has become his regular routine during the summer months.

“We always start by laying a plan for the day, an overview over priorities and which jobs we think we will finish. There is one other intern on my team; we’ve cooperated on three different projects. We’ve delivered two of them, now we just have the final spurt on the last one.” 

Opportunities are the trigger
For Kristoffer, raised in Stavanger, Equinor has always existed in the periphery. Nevertheless, he never really thought about applying. 

“Obviously, you have an extra awareness of Equinor when you come from Stavanger, often as a traditional oil company. I really hadn’t considered that it could be a place for me, because of the direction I was taking – not until somebody from here visited NTNU.” 

Kristoffer first became aware of Equinor’s focus on digitalisation during the career days at school. That afternoon, he went home and read up on our plans and needs. 

“I found out that they talk a surprising amount about digitalisation, that they are targeting their efforts on the digital transition and they want new IT people on the team. That triggered something in me – all the opportunities that arise when such a large company focuses on new technologies.”

Three projects to add to his CV
Having secured sufficient caffeine, he moves from meeting to screen. Sitting at the next desk, his partner is engrossed in deep concentration. The first project they worked on dealt with smart structuring of data in cloud solutions to allow analyses in real-time. The second project dealt with moving old databases into new solutions and building an application to simplify updates. 

“Equinor has crazy volumes of data. What surprised me most last summer was how we were allowed to work on our tasks so independently, the trust we have been given. That and the fact that the way of working here is very similar to what we learn at school.”

Kristoffer shows us something that, to the untrained eye, looks like a jumble of random letters, numbers and symbols. Those are the innards of the latest project; an app that will make it easier for employees to organise in smart teams. 

“In our department, we work in sprints. That means that each team works on a project for a week or two before it’s presented to a larger group and the managers – that helps ensure both progress and that the end result turns out as everyone expected.”

I found out that they talk a surprising amount about digitalisation, that they are targeting their efforts on the digital transition and they want new IT people on the team. That triggered something in me – all the opportunities that arise when such a large company focuses on new technologies.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned by being at Equinor?
“Ah, that would have to be that I feel much more confident when I present something. We’ve had to present what we’re working on to large and small groups almost every week.

Confidence and valuable experience
When we meet Kristoffer, there are just a couple weeks left before school starts. The intern period has brought new confidence and motivation, experience that he is looking forward to taking back to school. 

“It has really been a lot of fun, the way we were received here. In the beginning, the managers spent a lot of time finding out what we knew and what level we were at. Since then, everyone has been very interested in hearing our opinions.” 

You haven’t had the boss hanging over your shoulder? 
Kristoffer laughs: “Not at all. And no one has asked us to do things in a specific way; the focus has been that we should solve tasks the way we feel is best – and then giving us constructive feedback to continue our work

What have you enjoyed most about your time here?
“I’ve already mentioned most of it, but I would also highlight the social aspect. When we came in here, there were several social events for all of us interns – there are around 80 of us spread among the departments. The fact that we got a helping hand in getting to meet people outside the job, a whole bunch of people who are in the same situation, has been really fun. There’s been a lot of hiking in the mountains – which is probably extra good for those of us who mostly hang around our screens.”

Martha Huynh

One step closer to the answer 

The big question for many young people is: “What will I be when I grow up?” Student Martha Huynh found her answer in an intern job with Equinor.

“One thing I think is very unfortunate, is that many girls think they have to complete their education before they can seek out opportunities like this,” says Martha Huynh.

Before she adds: “Because that isn’t true.”

Martha is talking about internships. She is in the process of completing her second round as an intern in Equinor. Last year, she was stationed with the HR department in Stavanger, while this year, she has had a chance to try her hand at Employer Branding in Oslo. Both positions are somewhat, but not entirely, in line with her ongoing studies.

“When I wrote my bachelor’s thesis about female contractors, I saw that many people were hung up in the premise that they didn’t know ‘everything’ and were held back because of that. My impression is that boys more often take the plunge because they are less concerned about being ‘complete’ from the start, and instead think that you learn as you go. I hope more girls can adopt that mindset.”

Profession and hobby – hand in hand
Nearly three months have passed, and for Martha, that means that she will soon return to Copenhagen Business School in Denmark, where she is getting her master’s degree in innovation and entrepreneurship. She got her bachelor’s degree in international business at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, which also included an exchange period in China.

“I love to travel, meet new people and experience new cultures. That was also one of the reasons that I applied here – I get to work with an incredible number of different people from all over the world.”

Martha has just returned from Bergen when we meet. Over the two last months, she has travelled to Bergen, Stavanger, Trondheim and London on job assignments.

For me, it is extremely important to have a job where I can combine both my profession and the things I am really passionate about otherwise. Having been given so many opportunities and so much trust as an intern is something I really had not expected. I guess the typical view is that you will just be one drop in a giant ocean of a company, and that you will have to work in a very narrow perspective. I’m very happy that my assumptions about Equinor missed the mark.

“When I applied here last year, I didn’t realise how many different disciplines I would get to cooperate with – and learn about. Another thing I didn’t expect was how much of what I’m interested in during my free time would actually be of benefit here.”

What interests?
“In addition to the subjects I’m studying, I love to be creative in many different ways. Photography and film are two examples. Although I don’t have any formal expertise in those topics, I have had an opportunity to work a lot on both of them here this year.”

Feeling useful
On her travels around Norway and abroad, Martha’s assignment has been to create content that highlights the people and the environments within the company. She has cooperated closely with several departments, including HR and Communication. The sum of this, according to Martha, is a perfect combination of learning about the industry and being allowed to pursue creative development.

“For me, it is extremely important to have a job where I can combine both my profession and the things I am really passionate about otherwise. Having been given so many opportunities and so much trust as an intern is something I really had not expected. I guess the typical view is that you will just be one drop in a giant ocean of a company, and that you will have to work in a very narrow perspective. I’m very happy that my assumptions about Equinor missed the mark.”

What’s the best thing about being an intern?
“There are several things, but maybe particularly getting to meet and learn from so many different people with a broad spectrum of experience. I also find it very satisfying to feel that the job I do is actually useful, and that I make a difference by being here.” 

And the most challenging?
“While I love cooperating with different people, I guess that, in a way, that is also the most ‘challenging’ thing. Being able to constantly communicate well, in a way that promotes progress. Everyone here has a common goal, regardless of department, so the challenge is probably being able to solve the job in a way that makes you feel like you’ve made a contribution. Fortunately, that is the way I do feel, so it is both a challenge and a motivating factor.”

Now she knows what she wants
Now that Martha’s second internship in Equinor is drawing to an end, she has made an important decision. This year, like last year, she has been looking into a department where she has not yet had an opportunity to work directly: Innovation and Strategy.

“What I have determined this year is that I want to work for – and apply for – a graduate position here when I finish up in Denmark.”

So Equinor is the final objective?
“There are many goals I want to achieve when I finish my studies, and Equinor is definitely a place I could envisage as a starting point. No matter where my path takes me, my experience in Equinor has been a valuable part of the journey, and it has opened up a sea of new opportunities.”