Graduates and Interns

Graduate Programme

We understand the importance of attracting and retaining good people. Our graduate programme helps foster graduate engineers. They get to work alongside experienced industry professionals to assist in planning, designing and maintaining the performance of our electricity network assets.

The programme involves pairing graduates with a second-year graduate and senior engineer to support them through the programme.

Graduates develop technical competence and work towards becoming an Engineering New Zealand chartered engineer.

Areas of the company graduates have an opportunity to move between include:

  • Electricity Development / Planning
  • Design
  • Protection Engineering
  • Asset Fleet management
  • Network Operations
  • Service delivery

To be eligible for the Graduate Programme you need a Bachelor of Engineering or Diploma in a related field and have the right to work in New Zealand.

As a graduate engineer, you will receive a competitive remuneration package with six monthly increases to recognise your increasing contribution to the success of our business. You will also enjoy all the benefits available to our employees.
 
Applications for our 2021/22 Graduate Programme are now open. Applications close 2 July 2021. Successful graduates will begin in February 2022. Click here for more information.

Summer Interns

Each year, Powerco offers interns the opportunity to work with our experienced and friendly staff between November and February.

We look for motivated and enthusiastic people studying towards a Bachelor or Diploma, or at high school. Where possible we try to match interns with departments relevant to their study area.

Applications for our 2020/21 Summer Internships are now closed.

Intern stories

Yasmin Sue

The University of Auckland – Chemical and Materials Engineering, and Commerce

When Powerco says its company culture is great – it really is, says Yasmin Sue.

“Companies try to sell you their ‘great company culture’ and that everybody is really friendly, but at Powerco they actually are really friendly and welcome any questions I had. It’s been a really awesome experience having so much industry knowledge around you all the time.”

Yasmin spent the summer working as part of our Gas Projects Delivery Team in Wellington, studying the feasibility of upgrading regulators at a Wellington gas gate station. This is where high-pressure gas is moved in to our gas pipes. 

 Assad Mohammad

Auckland University of Technology – Electrical Engineering student

Assad Mohammad was looking to the future when he applied for our summer internship programme.

“The internship was about a project in the future energy business, which was exactly in line with my studies and interests,” says Assad who, as part of his internship, modelled future opportunities for Powerco around renewable energy and local energy trading.

“Powerco is definitely future centric compared to some other energy companies, and the Business Development team where I have been working, is the centre of where all this action happens.

“I like the flexible work culture here at Powerco. The non-hierarchical setting of the workplace impressed me a lot and made me feel very inclusive.”

Jess Hopkins

Victoria University – Bachelor of Building Science

Jess Hopkins helped future-proof Powerco’s electricity substations as part of her internship with our Corporate Sustainability Team.

Her task was to model the energy consumption of substation buildings. The aim was to work out strategies to make Powerco’s buildings more energy efficient and sustainable – helping to reduce the company’s emissions, with the goal of achieving net zero by 2030.

“I really enjoyed my time at Powerco.”

Elijah Wilson

Victoria University of Wellington – Software Engineering

Elijah Wilson got first-hand knowledge of the data that runs Powerco’s SCADA – a computer system that collects and processes real-time data on our electricity network – during his internship.

“Working at Powerco has been such a great experience and a way of preparing for the future. It’s helped teach me how to keep a healthy and positive mindset towards work, and showed me that there’s more to work than just sitting at a desk.”

Shaelyn Hattle

University of Otago – Economics and Finance, and Management

Shaelyn Hattle says she learned skills at Powerco that university just can’t teach.

“The learnings that have come out of this internship are endless and go beyond what you’d be taught from any university degree. I have understood the importance of communication, time management, adaptability, and healthy negotiation.”

Working with our Electricity Service Delivery Team, Shaelyn designed an online application form for customers switching to solar power as an energy source.

“What I’ve enjoyed the most about Powerco has been meeting and working with all sorts of new people. It’s been great getting to know everyone and hearing a bit about the work they do in the business. There are some very forward-thinking people here, who have been great to learn from.”

Thomas Wang

University of Canterbury – Electrical Engineering

Power transformers, switchgear, high capacity underground cables – intern Thomas Wang saw them all while at Powerco. But what’s been truly invaluable is the opportunity to see all different electrical equipment working together in a substation.

“Working with the Power Assets Fleet team has given me chances to be on-site at substations. You usually understand things better when you see them.

“This experience will undoubtedly make a difference to my career. I now understand the way power assets engineers work, gaining experience and knowledge about not only power assets, but the electricity distribution industry.”

Graduate stories

Kevin Chang

Graduate Electrical Engineer

Several months after graduating, I got a Graduate Electrical Engineer offer from Powerco. As knowing Powerco is a great company, I accepted the offer immediately.
What's your job about?

Powerco is one of the only two dual energy distributors in New Zealand, which delivers electricity and gas to around 1.1m customers. Powerco has the New Zealand longest electricity distribution network, which is about 30,000 kilometres, and also has the largest energy distribution area, which covers about 39,000 kilometre squares.

As being a Powerco’s Graduate Electrical Engineer, my main responsibility is to assist other experienced engineers while learning from them. Powerco’s graduate programme let graduate engineers to rotate between different engineering groups to experience every aspect of Powerco’s engineering-relative business. My first rotation was in the asset fleet team, which is responsible for asset management. The team contains 2 groups, which are responsible for overhead network and underground network respectively, and I was mainly based in the overhead group. I had done many different jobs, such as standard reviewing, testing data analysis, and writing project briefs. Among them, project briefs writing is the most important job. I had completed quite a few Powerco old network renewal project briefs. The largest one was the renewal project of whole Patea urban Network. The whole project was divided into 3 smaller projects, and they were estimated to cost around $1m. They focused on sagging power lines, rotten cross arms, and rotten poles.

What's your background?

I was born in Taichung, Taiwan. Taichung is a city in the middle of Taiwan, and it has a population over 2 million. I had lived in Taichung until 16, and then I moved to New Zealand in 2009, but before that, I had been to New Zealand several times and had about a year of primary education here. I finished my high school and university education in Christchurch. In April 2018, after completing a summer research scholarship project “EV Charging” in the summer of 2017-18, I graduated from the University of Canterbury with a BE(Hons) degree in Electrical Engineering.

Before I graduated from the university and got the Graduate Electrical Engineer position in Powerco, I completed 2 practical jobs and an engineering final year project. My first practical job was working as a technician assistant in an electrical appliance retailer. This job combined aspects of electronic, electrical and mechanical. I did my final year project before the second practical job. It was about measuring generators’ reactance by using traditional methods (slip test, open circuit and short circuit tests) and a new method called Schicker’s method. My second practical job was about EV charging cable protection. I tested 3 types of RCD and found the most economic one for residual current protection.

Several months after graduating, I got a Graduate Electrical Engineer offer from Powerco. As knowing Powerco is a great company, I accepted the offer immediately. I started the job in February 2019, which is 7 months ago.

Could someone with a different background do your job?

Yes or maybe no, it depends on how different the background is. I would suggest that who has a relative engineering qualification background, such as electronic, mechatronic, or mechanical, should be able to learn the knowledge and skills fast. People with other completely different background may still be able to learn the skills, but it will cost more effort and time. Critical thinking, problem solving and team work are definitely important in engineering roles, but the most important part of being an engineer is to keep learning.

What's the coolest thing about your job?

In my first rotation in the asset fleet team, which just finished last month, field inspection was the coolest and most interesting part that I enjoyed the most. I have been to several field inspection, such as during the Patea urban network renewal project, which connect the real-world situation to the network data. It was also exciting when I rotated to my current group, which is planning team. It is responsible for network development. Changing environment and encountering new knowledge are always challenging and exciting.

What are the limitations of your job?

Previously, when Powerco recruited graduate electrical engineers, those engineers would just stay in the engineering team they firstly entered and did not rotate. It might make them unfamiliar with other engineering aspects in the company for the first couples of years. However, Powerco has reshaped the graduate programme, and it now becomes well-structured. Powerco’s graduate engineers now rotate between different departments every 4 to 6 months and have an opportunity to experience every aspect of the Powerco’s power business. This also means new knowledge and challenges will keep coming.

3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...

Do not give up. You may encounter many failures in your studies, finding practical jobs and a dream job, but do not feel afraid of them. Learn from then and after several years, you will find out they are nothing.
Be time-wise. You may encounter many temptations and addict to them, such as an interesting novel or a game. However, overcome temptations and use your time wisely. After finishing your work, they will become more enjoyable.
Join a club. To overcome your weakness “shyness”, you should join a club as early as possible. Trust me. Student Volunteer Army is a great choice.

Darrin Hillas

Graduate Electrical Engineer
What I enjoy are the opportunities to contribute to smooth operation and maintenance of the electrical network.

What's your job about?

My employer, Powerco, manage the distribution networks for electricity and gas and I contribute by helping manage the electrical network. Powerco has electricity distribution networks in various North Island regions such as Taranaki, Palmerston North, Tauranga and more.

My graduate program has involved staying in a team for 3-6 months and then rotating to a new team. I have rotated through the protection team, asset fleet team, network transformation team and am currently in the planning team. A lot of jobs I completed in the protection rotation were assessing network device settings and ensuring automated responses operated correctly. For the asset fleet team, I helped update and write about our electrical assets in the Asset Management Plan (AMP).

During my time in network transformation, I completed two reports focused on research of low voltage monitoring and assessing low voltage data. This week for the planning team I modelled load flows on our network models for a project I’m currently working on. This project is about replacing a high voltage (33kV) cable that connects to a substation. I’m required to plan for this upgrade among a building reconstruction project inside the substation and third project regarding overhead lines that join into the substation. The load flow modelling is to check and help investigate how we can maintain supply to customers during construction work. I recently traveled to this substation in another town and discussed the three projects with other employees.

What's your background?

I grew up in Invercargill down in the south of New Zealand and attended James Hargest College. After finishing high school, I left to study engineering at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch. At the end of the general first year of engineering I decided to go down the path of electrical engineering. During my university years I landed two summer jobs as required by the university. My first summer job was with Nind Electrical Services where I assisted electricians renovating the R&R halls of residence in Christchurch. I also helped with a large industrial job building a large dairy rubberware facility. This practical experience was a great opportunity for me. The next summer I worked for the electricity distribution company PowerNet in Southland. I did some jobs such as analysing load flows and performance of the network.

I was offered my current job during my final year of university through a standard process of applications and interviews. I started early 2018 and I’ll continue to experience working with different teams throughout the rest of the graduate program.

Could someone with a different background do your job?

Yes, however they would need a background in the electricity sector and the ability to apply themselves to a team working environment. A lot can be learned on the job so a passion to develop yourself in the field would be required. It is also important to be open to new ways of approaching and solving problems and have a curious personality.

What's the coolest thing about your job?

Throughout the grad program I’ve worked in various teams learning how everything works and comes together giving me a greater appreciation of the industry and the challenges it faces. What I enjoy are the opportunities to contribute to smooth operation and maintenance of the electrical network. These moments are often thanks to learning on the job and working with team members. I also enjoy the time I’ve had to learn about technical aspects required for a distribution company to serve our customers as best we can.

What are the limitations of your job?

As a young engineer in the industry, there is much to learn. Spending more time than experienced engineers on learning means the company sees less return early on. A limitation with the grad program is that you’re constrained to projects that generally last half a year or less. Another limitation is that sometimes to get to the interesting work, you must complete dry tasks first. This requires perseverance but is often worth the effort.

3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...

  • Put your best effort into your studies, but also leave time for other interests. This is the easiest time you have for studying whatever you want, whether it be related to your degree or not.
  • Try and find real life applications of everything you learn. This is more important if there’s something boring in your lecture material, researching the real world applications will likely make it more interesting.
  • Make time for networking opportunities provided by the university.