Veruzka Carballo Sicilia graduated from IE University with a Bachelor in Politics, Law and Economics in 2021. During her studies, the Venezuelan native participated in numerous professional development initiatives such as the IE University Lab and the Amazon Campus Challenge. In her last semester, she completed her internship in the renewable energies sector. The experience confirmed her interest in pursuing a career in the field.
Today, Veruzka has joined top energy firm, CEPSA, as part of their Challenging U graduate program. Check out this interview where she shares her experiences as a recent graduate, and explains what it’s like to work in the oil and energy sector.
Please tell us more about the Challenging U program at CEPSA.
Challenging U is a graduate program offered by CEPSA with the goal of training young professionals who are interested in the energy sector. The program offers a full-time paid internship in the first year, as well as a Master in Business Management.
Being a part of this program has been an incredible experience. We do as much work as our more experienced colleagues, which allows us to learn everything we need to be successful in the future. They refer to participants as CHUs, and there are currently 45 of us in different sectors of the company—being on this journey together has been amazing. After a year with the company and completing the master’s degree, CEPSA offers you an employment contract. This comes with a salary bump and a potential spot in another department.
What position do you currently hold at CEPSA? What do your day-to-day responsibilities entail?
I currently work for CEPSA Trading SAU, which is a subsidiary of CEPSA. The company is in charge of seeking out, producing and trading products derived from oil, gas and power, and serves customers all over the world. Specifically, I work in the Trade Finance and Back Office department, which manages financing and bank guarantees for the company and its subsidiaries. As part of the Back Office department, I also confirm physical transactions such as cargo and EFPs.
I usually work eight-hour days from Monday to Friday, but my schedule is slightly flexible. My specific tasks can change from one day to the next, but I learn a lot from both my colleagues and each new challenge.
How did you learn about this opportunity, and why were you interested in applying?
I found out about this opportunity from the IE University Talent and Careers newsletter. I’ve always been interested in the energy industry and its different sectors, and had previously completed my internship in a small renewable energy company. I wanted to keep working in the same market, so I applied for the program. CESPA is currently trying to introduce renewable energy, and I am excited to help them make the transition towards a greener and more sustainable future.
What was the recruitment process like?
Well, you start off by preparing your CV and applying for the position that you’re interested in. After you pass the initial application phase, you will go through a testing process known as “The Farm.” This involves managing different types of energy sources for a city and trying to keep the residents happy. Passing this test is a crucial part of the application process. Afterward, I went through an interview to evaluate my proficiency in English. The last step was an in-person interview at CEPSA where I got to meet the person who is my boss today.
In your opinion, how did the Talent and Careers department at IE University help you secure this opportunity?
I studied for my Bachelor in Politics, Law and Economics at IE University. While there, I learned business concepts that I still use in my career today. My time there also helped me become a more disciplined and dedicated professional. More specifically, the Talent and Careers department helped me customize my CV to highlight my best skills for each job I applied to. They showed me that, while I had enough talent to achieve what I wanted to, I also had to consistently put in the work.
What are some highlights of working in the oil and energy sector?
While it is a very volatile industry, it also gives you a lot of opportunities to learn. You discover more about oil and energy, as well as how other countries do business and manage their companies. Also, you are constantly in touch with other counterparties, governments and businesses.
Working in CEPSA has broadened my intellectual horizons. I now know a lot about topics outside my area of study, such as shipment, customs, bank regulations, international disputes, and much more.
Any tips or recommendations for students looking to explore this sector?
If you are interested in oil and energy, I would recommend that you take courses or seek out internships within the sector. While academic qualifications are important, most industry players place huge value on experience. A clear example is that I received a Bachelor in Politics, Law and Economics, yet I work for a company where most of my colleagues are engineers.
I would also encourage you to learn how to work in teams. Be curious, proactive, hardworking and willing to learn.