Sofia's second graduate intern joins the team

Welcoming new Marine Renewable Energy masters graduate Jordan O'Neill to the Sofia team.

Newest intern Jordan O'Neill starts with the project

Sofia's second graduate intern has started with the project having recently completed an MSc in Marine Renewable Energy at Plymouth University. 

Jordan O'Neill joins the team as the project progresses its onshore construction and prepares for the start of offshore activity. He has a degree in Geography from Swansea University and previously worked with companies that share his environmental and sustainability ethos however, this is his first offshore wind role. 

Jordan is particularly interested in law, policy and stakeholder engagement and how these factors shape societal and environmental impacts. He applied for the internship having seen it as a unique opportunity to gain exposure to both onshore and offshore elements of an offshore wind farm project. 

He said: "I am looking forward to building relationships with work colleagues, stakeholders and clients and interacting with individuals from a variety of disciplines, backgrounds and industries. I am keen to develop the knowledge and skills that will allow me to become a valued member of the consents team at RWE.

"I hope to contribute by working collaboratively with environmental bodies, local authorities and the wide range of stakeholders involved with the project and, more specifically, by developing the consents required for shipping and navigation, and by contributing to the preparation of the archaeological method statement for the construction phase."

Jordan's first week involved taking part in Newcastle University's annual careers event with other Sofia team members including Offshore Consents Manager, Clare Davies (back).

Jordan follows Sofia's first consents graduate Phoebe Meredith who was able to use her time at Sofia as a stepping stone to a job as Senior Marine Wildlife Survey Consultant for APEM Ltd, one of Sofia's consultancy suppliers.  

When Phoebe left we asked her some questions about her 12 months with Sofia:

What were your key tasks and how did they evolve?

  • I was mainly involved in supporting the offshore consents team and with the project's supply chain obligations.
  • Initially it was a supporting role in ornithology, the UXO marine licence application as well as being responsible for MMO liaison and leading on necessary administrative tasks.
  • The role evolved into me becoming the technical lead for the offshore ornithology pre-construction surveys, managing the supply chain evidence log and confidently delivering project updates to key stakeholders. I also learnt to identify risks to the project and how these could be mitigated, and made valuable contributions to the evaluation of the underwater noise monitoring scope during the UXO tendering.

What was the best thing about working during the internship?

  • I particularly enjoyed working on the offshore ornithology and marine mammal scopes. However overall I was thrilled to be working on a nationally significant infrastructure project and RWE's largest offshore wind farm for my first role as it presented lots of enjoyable challenges, and facilitated a steep learning curve.
  • I am grateful that during the global pandemic I was still able to start my career and build up the skills and knowledge that enabled me to move into a really exciting new role. 

What are the key lessons learnt over the past 12 months and things you will take into the next role?

  • Starting during the covid-19 pandemic meant that I only went into the office once, working remotely the whole duration of my internship. However this did not stop me from forming strong working relationships internally or externally with my colleagues. Good communications has been crucial.
  • My new role also starts remotely but I feel more prepared in terms of my expectations of working from home within a team and how to manage it.
  • I learn that time management and good organisation are key to achieving deliverables and to ensuring that the project remains on programme. For example one challenge was to keep stakeholder consultations on track to achieve the necessary consents within deadlines.
  • Both time management and good organisation will be important in my next role as as a consultant as I will be working on several different projects for clients at any one time.

How has the internship helped with getting a permanent job?

  • The knowledge I have built up as technical lead of the offshore ornithology pre-construction surveys was fundamental to getting the new role with APEM.
  • The majority of APEM’s clients for aerial ornithology surveys are offshore wind developers - so having experience and understanding of the expectations and requirements of developers will benefit me in being able to provide useful and practical advice and support.
  • The combination of relevant experience and practical softer skills prepared me for new responsibilities including project management and client liaison.

Sofia's Offshore Consents Manager Clare Davies added:

It was fantastic to have Phoebe join the consents team as Sofia’s first ever intern - supporting onshore and offshore consents, environmental management and supply chain activities. She took on a huge variety of tasks with enthusiasm and brought a fresh dynamic to the team. Phoebe’s experience shows the value of a internship on a project like Sofia for anyone wanting to develop the necessary skills and technical understanding to kick-start their career in offshore wind. We are now happy to welcome Jordan to the team and anticipate he will also become a key team member and contribute in new ways during this exciting phase of the project.”