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The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers

November 23, 2006

Petrochemical giant offers choice of career
By Martin Birchall

Although engineering students put Shell as their employer of choice, Martin Birchall finds that the global oil and gas company employs graduates in a wide range of fields 
IT’S been a good year for the recruitment team at Shell. The oil giant was named the employer of choice for engineering graduates at The Times Graduate Recruitment Awards 2006 and went on to achieve its highest ranking in the new edition of The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers.

“There’s no doubt this is an exciting time to work in the oil and gas industry,” says Katy Fox, the recruitment marketing manager for Shell in the UK and Ireland. 
“We offer a variety of careers that few other multinational companies can match. Whether it’s working with cutting-edge technology, researching alternative energy sources or taking on a demanding commercial role, our graduates experience real responsibility from their very first assignment.”

Although initially graduates work within a specific function, the diverse nature of Shell’s businesses means that staff often move into other areas as their career progresses. “You can come in as an engineering graduate and use not only your technical skills but also have the opportunity to develop your commercial acumen, if that’s where your interests lie,” Fox says.

Shell’s graduate programme extends back to the early 1960s and the company is often credited with being one of the first employers formally to tour universities each year to recruit new graduates, a process now widely known as the milkround.

Part of the company’s enduring appeal lies in the global nature of its business. “The environment that most new graduates will work in is extremely international,” she says. “You won’t necessarily be jetting off overseas each week but project teams are often based across countries so you can expect to work alongside colleagues of varying nationalities.”

New graduates are not recruited into a generic graduate scheme but are hired for specific roles in one of Shell’s operating companies and are trained according to the demands of the job and their skills and potential. “Every staff member is given their own training budget each year which can be spent on anything from industry-specific courses to professional qualifications or learning another language,” Fox says.

The need to shift from traditional oil production to broader energy provision is bringing new career opportunities too. “Young professionals are increasingly involved with our renewable energies business and in the past couple of years we’ve been able to offer our first internships in Shell WindEnergy,” she says. “I think everyone is becoming much more aware of global energy challenges and students now recognise that by getting involved with companies like Shell, they can play an active role in finding possible solutions.”
Martin Birchall is editor of The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers. Find out more about the best places to work in The Times Top 100 interactive table —

No 11: SHELL

What is it?
Shell is a global group of energy and petrochemical companies. It has operations in more than 140 countries and 109,000 staff, including about 8,000 in the UK.

What graduate jobs are on offer?
Shell hires about 150 graduates a year to work in a wide variety of technical and commercial roles. The majority are in engineering or earth sciences but there are also positions in marketing, IT, finance, contracts, procurement, trading and HR.

Where are the jobs?
Most of Shell UK’s new graduates begin work in London, the North West or in Scotland, supporting the company’s offshore oil and gas platforms in the North Sea. There are also a number of opportunities at Shell’s corporate headquarters in the Netherlands.

What’s the pay like?
The starting salary for UK graduates next year will be £28,500. Higher rates may apply to those with an MBA or a masters or PhD in a relevant subject.

What’s the competition like?
This year Shell UK received more than 10,000 applications for its graduate positions.

How do you apply?
Shell’s recruitment process begins with a questionnaire and an application form to which you attach your CV. You can apply year-round at

How has Shell done in the Top 100?
2002: 20
2003: 14
2004: 12
2005: 12
2006: 11 and its sister websites,,,,, and are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

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