Until recently, most young professionals (YPs) in the petroleum industry had yet to experience what more senior geologists call “a downturn.”
Now, it appears we’re getting our first taste.
I have heard several students graduating with their bachelor’s degrees tell me they are having a hard time finding a job. Most will go back to school for master’s degrees to wait it out; others will find alternative positions that allow them to use their degrees. And some will change career paths altogether.
For those already in the industry, friends and colleagues may have been laid off, companies near us may have closed and the fortunate are grasping tight to their current positions.
Being in the oil industry for only three years now, this is the first time I have experienced such a dramatic drop in oil prices.
For someone who has never been through a downturn, it can be a little unsettling, especially since YPs are usually the most recently hired and have the least amount of experience. Not only are we trying to start, grow or advance our careers, but many YPs have personal goals they are trying to achieve, too.
With an uncertain future in the petroleum industry, many young professionals may think twice before paying off student loans, getting married, having children or buying a house.
Even though this is a time of uncertainty, there are many things you can do as a young professional to prepare your career for a “downturn.”
♦ Get involved.
If you are reading this that means probably you are a member of AAPG – but are you involved, or “just” a member?
Do you attend meetings? Do you try to help out with local events?
I know many of us have alot on our plate. However, those who are involved are more likely to get their name out there by networking. Networking can come in handy when it comes to changing jobs, getting your foot in the door or even collaborating on a project. You will never know when these connections will be helpful.
YP events are held year-round in all Regions and Sections. Contact the YP Lead in your area to learn more.
♦ Continue your education.
As a young professional, many of us fail to see the importance of continuing education. I am not just talking about week-long courses. I’m also talking about poster sessions, free webinars, short courses, meetings.
Making yourself a valuable asset by becoming more educated and better trained will help you develop the skills necessary to keep your current position or obtain a new career.
♦ Know the industry.
Keep up with current technologies, new techniques, active areas, company mergers, owned acreage blocks – anything and everything you can learn about the industry is important.
By staying current on industry activity, you will be able to act quickly if new opportunities arise when the price environment changes.
It is a volatile industry – but by being involved, continuing your education and knowing the industry, you will be poised for career success.
Even in a downturn.