Intern to Graduate to Full-Time Employee- The Ultimate Experience

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Matthew Verhelst graduate experience Schneider ElectricFebruary 2021 marked 3 years since I finished my Schneider Electric Internship, as well as 2 years since I started as part of the 2019 Pacific Graduate Cohort. As I have recently left the program, joining a permanent team, I wanted to sit down and share my experiences. So, if you’re thinking of applying to become one of our #SEGreatPeople, please grab a coffee and read- up!

My experience at Schneider Electric began back in 2017. I had just finished doing social media for the 2017 Schools Spectacular and was hungry for more marketing experience. I began searching through all the different internship opportunities, and stumbled across one for ‘Schneider Electric’ – “Oh that’s the company that makes lifts!” I thought to myself. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I soon went on to learn, we don’t make lifts – but we do exist pretty much everywhere else you look!

I remember back at the internship assessment center, the HR team mentioned that there will be an incredible amount of opportunities available, alongside a never-ending amount of support. Wow, were they right! In my short time with Schneider I have worked within 5 teams, multiple projects outside of my roles, one on one conversations with top global executives, as well as really leaving my mark on the organization – and I’m only just at the start of my career!

My Schneider Electric internship began in November 2017, after I had just finished my second year of university. It was an awesome three-month ride of opportunities in itself. I got to work on important marketing projects for the APC by Schneider Electric team, growing my understanding of some of our products with hands-on learning with customer-facing equipment. This included helping to build a live demonstration of APC gear that could power an Xbox One, screen, steering wheel, and pedals gaming system for 8 hours. This was used at trade shows, and then moved into the Sydney Office’s lunch/activities room – It is very fair to say the Xbox was a big hit, leading to some friendly competition each day!

During this internship, I was lucky to experience Innovation Summit Sydney. This event truly opened my eyes to the variety of products and areas we are leading the world in, but also the amount of good we are doing in so, SO many areas.

I was able to transition into the 2019 Graduate cohort, where I really continued to #LearnEveryDay. While it was daunting to join the corporate world full-time after finishing university, this feeling was overshadowed by the excitement of having control over what teams I wanted to gain experience in, throughout the program. Not knowing where, or what role I may be working was really freeing – I was able to explore my interest, and determine where I could passionately make the biggest impact on the company. Through the opportunities I’ll touch on below, I was able to grow my experience and skills, which would see me soon end up in a role that didn’t even exist yet!

I began the graduate program within the Home and Distribution team, working with Offer Managers on the Clipsal Brand. In the first 6 months, I was able to work in both our Sydney and Adelaide offices, as well as receiving multiple recognition awards from fellow employees. This meant I was able to redeem some awesome products (like Apple Airpods) and gift cards! Above the gifts though, it was great to be recognized for my efforts in front of your colleagues right from the start. Our strong recognition program is just one of the many areas the company recognizes and encourages, not just young new talent, but everyone in the company to strive to grow to be their best!

Within the first couple of months, I was deeply encouraged to use my volunteer leave (yes, you read that correctly – we get paid each year to get out into our communities and do good!), and join multiple teams, as we cleaned up the local national park and planted hundreds of trees… Plus we got to wear some pretty cool headwear, as you can see above.

I was able to choose to work within the Digital Customer Experience (DCX), as well as the Events team for my next graduate rotations. Joining the events team, I saw myself assist in organizing large events, streamlining content creation, as well as growing my planning and management skills.

While the DCX team allowed me to dive deeper with a passion I had throughout my education, of creating websites and digital content. I was deeply encouraged to grow and push myself in this space while enjoying the freedom to try and test my own ideas and content. For example, I was able to create content (such as the Weather Protected webpage – seen on the right) from end to end. I was able to plan film shoots, take images, then create the webpage they feature on.

I was lucky to work with the DCX crew at an exciting, yet demanding time for the team – the redesign of two of our brand’s websites. I was given large responsibility and creative license on multiple elements of the Clipsal and PDL websites – while also being heavily supported by managers and fellow employees, to deliver multiple teams’ views in a uniform approach. Doing so allowed us to cater to both the Consumer and Trade markets, while greatly improving the usability and user experience of the websites. I still count myself very lucky to have the opportunity to work on large projects like this, for a large 100-year-old Australian brand, so early in my career!

From creating new content for every Clipsal Offer line, enjoying my first interstate business trip, helping to Livestream Innovation Day to our large Facebook following, through to showing our wonderful global Schneier Go Green winners around Sydney – which included climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge! – I enjoyed a variety of experiences throughout my graduate rotations that pushed me to learn new skills, grow my abilities and relish every week!

As I touched on above, throughout my rotations I enjoyed Schneider Electric’s amazing perks of paid volunteer leave. This allowed me to volunteer in a variety of areas I am highly passionate about;

  • Planting trees for future generations to enjoy, in a Sydney National Park.
  • Lead digital & social media for large youth Public Education Arena Spectaculars.
  • Writing birthday cards for foster kids, and creating therapy companion toys for unwell youth.

This is one of my favorite ways the company ensures we not only give back to our local communities but ensure we are actively involved in areas that we care about, outside of work. Schneider actually offers employees 3 paid days a year to help the communities we operate in, depending on your location. You can read more about what our team around the world are doing here.

Unfortunately, during my time as a graduate, my mother needed another high-risk brain surgery. I was continually reminded by my managers how important family is, and to ensure I took as much time as I needed to look after them. I was encouraged to take half a day off multiple times a week, to leave the office, and spend the afternoon and night with my mother in the hospital as needed. Working remotely with teams across the company allowed me to dial into meetings on days I would work from the hospital. I had flexibility around when these meetings could take place in order to fit my schedule.  I still can not thank the organization and our employees at all levels for their support throughout this time.

Knowing you have the support of your workplace helps take so much unspoken stress off. Our approach to flexible working is one that is honestly internationally leading. If you want to read more about my family and my experience with these policies, read my previous blog here: The Importance of a Flexible Work Environment

…Remember how I said earlier that the skills I grew in the graduate program would go on to set me up for the role that didn’t exist yet? Well, 7 months ago I was given the opportunity to leave the Graduate program 5 months early to take up a new exciting role within the E-Commerce team, as an ‘eCommerce Content Specialist’. To say I was super excited would have been an understatement! My responsibility is to ensure all of our products, brands, content, and data are showcased online, to a premium standard for our partners. This support is just one of the ways we’re helping to support the wider electrical industry in the digital world.

I really LOVE my job – I can’t say that enough. Each day I get to have a visible effect on one of the world’s largest companies, help to shape the industries we operate within, assist customers, as well as being active in the local communities and organizations that are important to me. To top this all off, I get to enjoy work each and every day with a fun, supportive, energetic international team of #SEGreatPeople!

You won’t regret joining this amazing team. Search opportunities and jobs at Schneider Electric by checking out our careers site and applying!


This article was originally posted by Matthew Verhelst on LinkedIn


About the Author: Matthew Verhelst

Starting as a Schneider Intern, my ongoing determination to gain experience and consistently learn, as well as a fascination for all things digital and marketing, led to me being offered a Schneider Electric Marketing Graduate position, followed by a new position of ‘eCommerce Content Specialist’. I also hold experience as a Media Officer, and Social Media and Camera contractor for multiple Youth/Education Creative Arts events.

I am actively involved within the community non-for-profit sector; with my volunteer work with Social and Digital Media Coordination on ‘Southern Stars – The Arena Spectacular’. I enjoy pushing myself to Learn Every Day, which has already seen me offer my skills, keenness and time, to multiple teams and events throughout Schneider Electric, as well as multiple external organisations. I am very much a person who does not like to stand still – and passionate about everything I do. 

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