The intern diaries: our 2022 Octopus Energy Equality Internship
The energy industry needs to change. We need to rid the world of dirty fossil fuels and create a fair system that works for all. To do this, the energy industry needs to represent the world we live in.
That’s why we run equality internships to introduce people from all walks of life to the many opportunities in energy. Since 2020, we have focused particularly on under-represented groups in energy and tech through our 2020 Ada Lovelace project and 2021 Equality internships in tech and operations. This year we've gone bigger than ever, with 9-week internships across operations, tech, data and energy generation.
Our interns covered a lot of ground, including a road trip to one of our wind farms and an all-access pass to our sustainable Research & Development centre in Slough.
This year, to give you a behind the scenes look at the internship, we wanted to try something a little different.
Our interns wrote their own personal reflections about their time here. Read on to get an in-depth insight into all the exciting things that make internships at Octopus so unique.
Hear about life as an Octopus intern in...
The Internships: Operations
This Internship was specifically created to give each intern a true insight into an operations role at the green energy company of the future.
Below Rosemary, Juanita and John give their detailed overview of the experience.
Read all about Rosemary's experience
Hey! I’m Rosemary, a Black, British-born Nigerian. As part of my 9-week internship with Octopus Energy, I have been on operations as a training energy specialist, along with 2 other wonderful interns Juanita Benson and John Akinsete. I got accepted for this internship during the same week that I got my final results for the end of my degree! To say that I was pleased with both results would be an understatement. Having studied Occupational Psychology as one of my final modules at university, I was quite eager to get stuck into the real world of how a company operates and functions from within. Little did I know that Octopus Energy would be such a great company for me to learn about this and more!
Whilst I was preparing to apply for this role at OE, I found out that my brother had actually switched over to OE from EON within the last year. My first question for him was what made him make the switch, and to put it simply, his answer was Octopus’ customer service, followed by their affordable tariffs on offer. This immediately made me intrigued on how their company is able to attract and maintain their customers through this ‘outrageously outstanding customer service’. Not only this, but I was also really interested to learn more about renewable energy, as I had only ever heard of this way back in my science lessons at school!
I chose to venture into the Operations sector of Octopus Energy as it fit in with my previous experience at university and in jobs like retail and hospitality. University taught me how to work as a team, and to recover from challenges which definitely built up my resilience, having completed a degree during a pandemic. Luckily, this came in handy working in operations and dealing with a variety of challenging customer accounts. Working as a sales assistant in retail stores and as a bartender within hospitality taught me the importance of customer service and catering to customer’s needs. Similarly, working at Octopus over the last few weeks has shown me having an open mind is incredibly useful as things are always changing with the company, and there is value in being flexible and going the extra mile to ensure customers are satisfied.
Although John and I would be mainly based in the Manchester office, we were lucky to be based in the London Headquarters for our first week, where we bonded with Juanita and all the other African/Caribbean interns. During our first two weeks of this internship, we were warmly eased into the world of operations. This mainly consisted of talks with specialists in billing, disputing and heads of different areas like vulnerability, complaints and GDPR. This was a great chance to learn about the variety of sections that I could potentially venture into and I was surprised at how much opportunity there was within this company.
We had the amazing chance to speak to the CEO and CTO of Octopus Energy, Greg Jackson and James Eddison. These were the highlights of my internship, as we were actually able to talk to the brilliant minds behind the creation of the company. They were both very inspirational and passionate about the push for green energy and their sole focus on helping customers access affordable energy.
To be able to see how relatable Greg was despite being the CEO of such a great company was a lovely experience, and I got a good sense of the non-corporate culture that this company is thriving off of
Our interns talking to Octopus founder Greg and CTO James
I’m glad that I was able to train alongside Juanita and John in the Manchester office, as we could share our ideas together and work alongside each other, which made the process more enjoyable. We learned about billing, fixing account issues and emailing customers directly which was certainly a challenge! We really got stuck in with what Operations energy specialists do on a daily basis. At times, it was overwhelming navigating the best way to deal with issues, especially when working for a company who also aims to deliver outrageously good customer service. But I learnt tons and it was super comforting knowing that we had Sai Cham, Micah Maynard, Tomilola Jonah and Safiyah Iqbal as our intern site-leads who we could always go to for help. There was also no better feeling than being able to help a vulnerable customer, given the energy crises that we are all currently impacted by.
On week 4 of the internship, all of the interns were treated to a trip to Slough to visit the Research & Development department! It was a brilliant opportunity to learn more about everything from heat pumps to electric vehicles and decarbonising.
The interns visiting our heat R&D centre in Slough
Just two weeks later, us Operations interns were given the chance to visit a wind farm! I was excited for this as I had driven past them so many times on motorways before, so physically being in one was pretty cool. On this trip we were provided with talks by wind farm technicians and engineers who shed light on the weird and wonderful functions of a wind turbine, as well as how the renewable energy created from them is transported. We all left the wind farm feeling like pros!
I loved seeing just how creative individuals here at Octopus when it comes to developing ways to increase energy efficiency
Our final 3 weeks of the internship were focused on a project that we would eventually present to the other interns, our team leaders and senior management at Octopus, on our final day of the internship. The question we were given for our project being in OP’s was “How can Octopus Energy provide sustainable and effective support to the vulnerable in the October price rise?”. So as a group, after discussions and in-depth research, we came up with three ways to address this: through helping vulnerable customers, employees, whilst also addressing the energy crises as a whole. I really enjoyed the deliberation and critical evaluations that came with using innovation to establish sustainable and compassionate ways to support vulnerable individuals. I was surprised to find out how much Octopus are already working on various ways to help their staff during the October rise, as so many of my ideas were already being implemented. I guess this just shows how great of a community is really built into Octopus.
The interns visiting one of our Midlands' wind farms
Upon completing this internship and my degree, I plan to take some time to explore what variations of work the world has to offer! What I know for sure is that I will cherish and take on with me wherever I go the importance of the drive for renewable energy, as well as the culture of equity and accountability. Not to mention the awesome friendships I have made along the way. I owe this entirely to Octopus Energy!
Real all about Juanita's experience
The main thing I have enjoyed about this internship is the culture at Octopus. This internship has shown me that office environments can be casual and relaxed, whilst highly productive. It has also shown me what specific principles I value in a work environment, which are values I will carry forward. I have also enjoyed meeting so many new people, from the other interns to members of the senior management team. I feel extremely lucky to have been able to form so many new friendships and connections, all which made this internship both fun and beneficial to my professional development.
Our interns getting an introduction to Octopus from our Head of Operations James
Octopus has a very strong brand, and a reputation for exceptionally great customer service. Living up to those expectations was quite daunting at first, but it was a great experience tackling this work with the other interns. Furthermore, when we began the research project, we really wanted to make suggestions that the company would be able to use, even after the internship was done. We worked really hard during the research process, and I think we achieved these aims!
The biggest surprise was learning about the limitations that energy suppliers face with implementing innovative ideas for renewable energy. Octopus is a really innovative place, so the limitations on what they can do to transform the energy industry was quite frustrating. I noticed this as well when carrying out the research, we had really good ideas but the way the energy industry is set up, we just couldn’t.
I really enjoyed this internship and I’m looking forward to utilising the skills I have acquired at Octopus in my future career. I also hope to maintain all the new friendships I have made through the internship!
This internship has also piqued my interest into the world of renewables and tech, two areas I previously knew little about. In the future I hope to explore more roles within these two sectors.
Read all about John's experience
This internship was a true eye-opener, as it gave me a front-row view to experience first-hand what it takes to be a progressive company. From my first day in the London office to getting embedded in an OPs team in Manchester by the end of our training, everyone we met was willing to help. No request for help seemed too big or too small, as almost everyone understood what it must feel like being a newbie with that impostor syndrome looming large on your shoulders. My teammates and team leader were a joy to work with throughout my time on the team. On days when I had no clue how to deal with a customer request and stressed about having to clarify things I wasn’t sure about, just knowing they were there if I needed them was a constant reminder that most organisations do things backwards. I've enjoyed my time here at Octopus Energy but leaving gives me anxiety because I wish more companies would adopt the Octopus model of leveraging strengths to complement weaknesses amongst the various teams.
At first, not knowing enough to act on customers' requests through emails was challenging, as well as navigating a new working environment and trying to show your teammates you deserve the opportunity. However, in hindsight, this should not have been the case, as I quickly learned through my teammates and our Manchester intern site lead, Micah, that I am trusted and capable hence my being here. Knowing what I know now about the available support, I should not have wasted energy stressing about my ability to handle requests but be comfortable knowing that help is available if I ever need it.
The interns chatting with Business and Generation CEO, Zoisa
The level of knowledge and understanding shown by the various teams and teammates surprised me a lot, as I could see they have benefitted and grown as individuals and a collective by sharing information freely and widely across the organisation. If there is anything I would take out from this experience, it would be to treat people like they are adults and trust they will ask for help when the need arises.
I’m grateful for this internship and it has given me a great base to start from, especially considering I am off to start my placement in Audit and Assurance on the 12th of September 2022. My goals for next year are to complete my placement year, learn as much as possible and hopefully impress enough people to have various options for a permanent job when I graduate. I am glad I took the initiative to apply when the opportunity presented itself, and I will happily apply for a role here if the opportunity ever presents itself again.
Big up Octopus and more Love and Power to this organisation and its people!
My time at this organisation has shown me that anything is possible with the proper effort and team around you
The Day Trip
Watch this fun day trip all the interns took to our R&D Centre in Slough:
The Internships: Data
This 9 week, in depth experience was carefully designed to provide a deep insight into the world of data in Energy.
Below Aduwemi and Sally share their experience and details of the projects they worked on.
Read all about Adewumi's experience here
I was instantly interested in this internship as I am studying Computer Science and data analysis is an area I’ve wanted to learn more about. I also knew about Octopus’ excellent reputation plus stellar reviews of people’s experience working for the company.
The chance to work at the company and learn more about data, energy and renewables seemed like an incredible opportunity.
A typical day within the internship generally began with a talk from people from varying parts of the business to learn more about how a section of the company operates. My favourite was an Energy Procurement chat with Guy, where we learnt and discussed how customer demand and other factors impact buying energy in the market. This enabled me to understand the work of the Data Team and how Octopus Energy manages risk. In addition, I was amazed by how people throughout the company truly cared about the customers and their best interests, which was very refreshing.
I was also very impressed by how open the company was about explaining the flaws within the outdated energy industry and how Octopus aims to solve them
After the various fascinating talks, I usually began working on a specific task that day. An example of this was when I analysed the customer breakdown of Octopus Energy in the UK. This helped us learn which regions have fewer customers and think about how to rectify this.
I enjoyed the independence of a task like this and the ability to use my own methods. Afterwards, I would undergo paired training with Joanna to discuss any issues I may be having or any breakthroughs I had made that day. Again, this was a new experience, allowing me to reflect on my day and pick up a wealth of insights and skills.
Throughout the internship, I was fortunate enough to shadow different team members to gain a deeper insight into what each role in a Data team does. At the end of each day, I would spend some time improving my technical skills with the Data platforms. This gave me a lot of confidence in the progress I’d been making while interning. I also received a lot of support as everyone was incredibly welcoming and I felt integrated within the team almost instantly. The main lessons I learned during this process were to be confident and to ask for help when struggling. As when I eventually did, the support and reassurance I received were tremendously helpful.
Read more about Sally's experience and project
I am studying electronics and computer engineering at the University of Kent, and I applied to this internship at Octopus as it was an amazing opportunity. I have always cared about green energy and seeing the raving reviews from current and past employees and the amazing unconventional application process, I was sold.
I was paired with a mentor, Caspart on my first day and spent my internship learning directly from his expertise. What I loved about this was seeing the way my mentor processed information, and getting the chance to work together to find a solution when there are errors or issues. I was given a lot of responsibility with editing work and was handed my very own project to complete during the internship. This was exciting and I was given ample time to complete it so I never felt rushed, and I even got to choose to take on a multitude of other tasks. I did face some challenges, and I’m used to being very independent but I learnt that everyone around is here to help. Some people had dealt with my exact technical issues in the past so it was easy, convenient and a great experience learning directly from people with loads of experience. It was also amazing to work in a professional environment where people still get to enjoy their work and colleagues.
The Data Project: In Sally's words
My project for this internship was to create a Grafana Dashboard for the data team. The dashboard would display clear, clean metrics from Airflow: which is an essential component of Octopus’ data engineering pipelines, which they use to run many tasks from reporting to data-lake ingestion to model building. This dashboard would show key high-level metrics and stats such as:
- Average duration of each DAG (over appropriate time periods)
- Failure rate of each DAG (over appropriate time periods)
- Failure rate of airflow as a whole (over appropriate time periods)
- Number of tasks run per day
- Total Successful Tasks / Total Failed Tasks
- Top 10 most resource intensive DAGs (over appropriate time periods)
This information was to help grow the platform quickly/efficiently across the globe. To get an idea of how airflow is performing, as well as how changes to the pipeline affect performance, we need to see how tasks/dags are performing currently. This project included downloading and installing several tools, learning to push and merge pull requests, using git, accessing clusters, deploying applications, editing deployments, and then creating the dashboard. I had great help from my mentor: Caspar, and was glad to get this opportunity as the data team would find my dashboard very useful, and having my dashboard displayed for everyone to see in the office is amazing!
The Internships: Octopus Energy Generation.
Octopus Energy Generation (OEGEN) is a fund management company with an understanding for the impact of sustainable investment. Within this company, a number of brilliant people work together to contribute to making a difference by investing and engaging with renewable energy sources.
This year 6 interns, Saron, Javel, Divine, Ruvarashe, Nana and Elijah joined the OEGEN team to work alongside specific teams.
Hear all about the experience, in the interns own words.
At the beginning of the internship, we engaged in group sessions which covered all sectors of what and how OEGEN operates. This also allowed us to learn a lot about other parts of the Octopus umbrella; giving us insight into the energy sector, sales, operations and Kraken tech.
After that, each of us were given daily individual projects set out by our teams. We also spent some time getting to know the other interns within our own mini catch ups which helped us to deal with the positive culture shock generated by stepping into Octopus.
As a group we learned to navigate our respective roles within the team, taking knowledge, both new and old – to work on an array of projects. We have collectively learned a lot about the energy industry and renewable energy markets in our time at Octopus through talks, workshops and day trips. For a lot of us, this internship opened our eyes to a different type of corporate lifestyle, throwing our expectations of the past 9 weeks out of the window.
Saron and Javel tell us about their experience in the Investments department of OE Generation
We both joined the internship having finished our 3rd year of university and were looking for an opportunity to learn during our summer break. We stumbled across the Octopus Energy Equality Internship and thought it would be interesting but did not know exactly what we had signed ourselves up to.
Over the course of nine weeks, we have been introduced to the world of energy through our team, who work on investment deals across the world. Essentially, the team purchases renewable assets across Europe and other OECD countries. This summer we assisted the Deals team in purchasing a wind farm in Germany, carried out energy market research, learnt about different sources of energy and created an energy transition pitch deck. We found it really interesting navigating this, especially during the middle of an energy crisis, which really demonstrated that investing in renewables is necessary for our future.
We also made an effort to meet as many people across the business as possible to learn how our role fits into the wider Octopus umbrella. Some of our favourite talks include a Bioenergy talk by Mike from the Asset Management Team and a data & finance SQL class with Calum. These really helped us gain an understanding of how wide-ranging and flexible the work at Octopus is.
Octopus operates with a mission of sustainability in mind which means their work makes a great difference. Working here, you feel part of something bigger as we’re all working towards a better, greener future
Divine tell us about her time in Asset Management
I really loved the opportunity to immerse myself in the work the Asset Management team was doing and I learned a lot about assets, investments and maintenance. I was given tasks which contributed to the teams’ efforts to manage the current assets owned by the company, so I really felt like part of the team.
I spent my time creating an excel spreadsheet identifying the key components of the operations and maintenance contracts which enabled me to familiarise myself with contracts as well as understand what the operations and maintenance contractors do. I also got a chance to look at our asset contracts to understand the legal aspect and learn how the contents may vary depending on the type of deal. This was super intriguing to me as I was able to learn more about the portfolio held by OEGEN.
Read all about Ruvarashe's experience working in ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance)
ESG is something I knew little about prior to my coming into this role but due to my interest in sustainability and policy, I felt that I could learn a lot. The main aim of the role is to reinforce sustainable measures and ensure corporate social responsibility is taken in the work that OEGEN are doing. My time at Octopus has taught me a lot about the responsibilities of the role, and the impact of the work OEGEN is doing to ensure they deliver on the promise of sustainability.
Within my time at Octopus, I have worked on several projects. One thing I really enjoyed was creating a foundational company-wide report which entailed a lot of research as well as reading up on everything that Octopus Renewables is doing. I liked leading on this and found it interesting to speak to all the people who I had set up meetings with to find out more about functions of the company. Another project I was lucky enough to work on was leading research on fuel poverty charities for OEGEN to donate to. It was amazing to learn about how this challenge is being worked towards by charities and the government, but it was bitter-sweet to have to make a proposal for who to donate to.
I also assisted in updating the ESG Matrix which is an internal tool, created to ensure sustainable measures are in place for all investment deals. Whilst this was the most challenging of all my projects, it pushed me to work on my Excel skills, learning new formulas and functions to make the table do what was required. Whilst these are only a few of the tasks I completed, they demonstrate the wide variety of focal points that this role has to offer.
There is also a really pleasant working environment where you feel more integrated within the business as opposed to feeling like you are imposing.
Octopus doesn’t have the traditional hierarchical business model which makes people accessible. When working on your own projects, you can always just set up meetings to learn from colleagues who have a wider breadth of knowledge.
Read about Nana's time in Innovation and Community engagement
I was drawn to this role because of its focus around people. Whether its market research, brainstorming audacious new ideas or making a video promoting wind turbines, there has always been a focus on how it will affect people. This is also one of the benefits of working at Octopus as the ethos of the company is to not only make energy greener, but better for people around the world. Despite its rapid growth, it has not lost its customer-centric approach to how it operates - that’s why I wanted to do this internship.
The Innovation team, broadly speaking, deals with decentralising energy whilst also reducing its cost. Creative ideas are constantly being brought to life in the team. The most prominent example of this is the Fan Club, which gives those living close to wind turbines access to discounts on their energy bills when the wind is blowing. The team actively participates in engaging the community, educating people on the capabilities of renewables. For example, taking a trip to a local school and speaking to the pupils about renewables and the benefits that arise from the new developments in their area and the benefits to the wider world.
Not only does the team come up with new smart tariffs enabling people to take control of their energy consumption but they also work on the expansion of renewable energy; changing the way energy is produced throughout the world
I also got to spend time and learn from the Octopus Energy for Business team, who work with the business-owning customers of Octopus. The work they do is essential as small and medium businesses are not protected by price caps and are especially vulnerable to the energy crisis. We have also done some work on partnerships with other sustainability focused companies, collaborating to accelerate the transition to a greener world. Working with both teams has been extremely rewarding.
The internship has been challenging at times, with trying to absorb so much information in a short amount of time, whilst also trying to produce good quality work. However, help has always been at hand whether it be someone from the team or one of the other interns. The way in which everyone works with open collaboration and a willingness to help in any way possible provides a platform for great work.
Octopus has a strong feedback culture and whilst this may seem daunting, it enables you to learn how to do better in everything that you do. We’ve all grown at a rate which was much faster than we expected, allowing us to achieve things we may not have been able to at the start of our internship.
I came into the internship with a pretty basic understanding of energy, but now due to those around me, I feel super knowledgeable.
Read all about Elijah's work in the Finance team here
It has been truly eye opening to witness the culture here at Octopus and it has definitely changed my perception on how a team and a business can operate
This internship has allowed me to develop a greater understanding of the world of finance and accounts as well as learn the practical skills needed for a position within a corporate finance team. I spent my time preparing over 20 accounts to be audited by constructing 3 financial statements for each account. This is something I am new to and now feel extremely confident doing. I feel it is a valuable skill which will assist me on my journey into finance.
I was also asked to present the financial performance review for one of our portfolios to the senior management within the customer board. Whilst this is something I had not expected to be entrusted with as an intern; it was a pleasure to present on this matter. As an intern, you are given a lot of independence and treated as a part of the team. This means that you are trusted to lead on your own workload without always being supervised. Whilst this may seem scary at first sight, it enables you to bring ideas to the table and have a go at using and improving your knowledge and skill set. Having independence also means you can tailor your experience as an intern as mentors are happy to support you in focusing on your interests.
I learnt that no matter your position at Octopus, your work and efforts will be valued and appreciated which is something I love about Octopus.
The Internships: Tech
This 9 week, in depth experience was carefully designed to provide a deep insight into the world of data in Energy.
Tech intern Sinead tells us all about her time with the award-winning Octo Tech team
My name is Sinead and I am a second year student studying Computer Science, also tutoring programming languages to children aged from 5+. I chose to do a Backend Development internship with Octopus Energy over the summer and it was an experience I will always be grateful for. I chose to apply as I have always wanted to go into Software Development because of my passion for programming and creative mind, so I felt that choice was best suited for me.
On an average day in the company as an intern, we would have a stand-up meeting with our group and attend workshops/talks planned for us. These workshops/talks were very helpful as they allowed us to meet different people within the company and get further insight into things happening within the company in the different teams.
I was surprised with the internship because I was expecting it to be very corporate and unfriendly, but it was quite the opposite in a great way
On a Friday afternoon, we would attend family dinners which were something I did not expect when joining the company but it was very interesting as Octopus Energy offices from around the world would meet up on Zoom to discuss interesting and important topics. The interns went on two field trips; Slough to see what projects they were working on and learn about heat pumps and Peterborough to learn about wind turbines. This was a nice break away from being inside the office all day and a chance to spend time with the other interns. Towards the end of the internship we had to present what we were working on to people within the company and it was a valuable yet frightening experience. It was a pleasure being able to work on features that were going to be used by the ops team as it was something to show for whilst being at Octopus Energy.
During the internship, I faced quite a few challenges like applying too much pressure on myself and worrying about deadlines. It was natural for me to worry about not knowing enough but that's when I realised that they are there to help us and it takes time to pick things up. Also, one thing I struggled with was my lack of knowledge in the energy industry when working for an energy company but attending the workshops throughout the internship helped me feel more comfortable. One thing I liked is the respect and trust that they have for the employees. As you are responsible for the work you are doing, working on my own tasks that would make some changes in the company support site made me feel more independent and that was something I did not expect as an intern.
My goal in the near future is to successfully apply for a placement job for my third year in university, as I am trying to receive as much experience as I can before going straight into the working world.
I will forever be grateful for this incredible opportunity to learn and work alongside experts in their field to gain the skills and experience required in this challenging industry
Find out more about Internships at Octopus
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