It’s no secret that the current low-price environment makes this a challenging time to enter the energy industry. Highly qualified geoscience students who, five years ago, would have had four or five offers by graduation day now face uncertainty about when and if they will get a job.
The Student Career Seminar held at AAPG’s Annual Convention and Exhibition in Calgary, Canada provided students and recent graduates with strategies for finding success, regardless of the industry situation. The event was sponsored by the AAPG Student Expo Committee, chaired by Fernando Ziegler, which organizes student expos and job fairs across the United States.
Participants heard about day-to-day life in the petroleum and environmental industries and learned job search strategies and interview tips. They also had the opportunity to submit their resumes for review by an industry recruiter.
The seminar also included an interactive panel discussion with five seasoned professionals representing operators, service companies and academia.
Students asked panelists about doctoral studies, traveling after graduation and how to distinguish themselves from their peers.
Panelists also had questions for students. When asked why they decided to study geoscience, students almost unanimously answered, “We love being outside.”
When asked what they considered the most important lesson from their geoscience studies, students cited problem-solving, patience, teamwork, learning when to ask questions and learning how to display data in various forms.
One participant admitted that his greatest geoscience lesson learned was “knowing there’s always someone smarter than you.”
Panelist Gretchen Gillis, of Aramco Services Company, said humility is an important characteristic for individuals entering the industry.
In chatting with students after the seminar, Gillis said that the unpretentiousness of today’s graduates is refreshing. She recalled times when students graduated with several job offers to consider and noted that having so many options right away sometimes led to overconfidence. Students graduating during downturns are more likely to have an open mind and be willing to learn, she said.
I’m Graduating – What Now? Q&A with Seasoned Professionals
Is it a good idea to travel for a year after graduation?
- ”Traveling is a good idea, but stay engaged. Keep reading about the energy industry. Learn about other cultures. Learn about energy, water and other resources in places you visit.” - Gretchen Gillis, Aramco Services Company
- ”Keep your AAPG network active. Stay involved with your local society. Write a blog. Give a photo presentation to a local society.” - Steve Brachman, Wapiti Energy
Will getting a doctorate help or hurt my chances of getting a job in the industry?
- ”Most service companies hire Ph.D.s for research positions, but when those positions are not available, you may have the opportunity to work in other areas. In these times, having a Ph.D. may not give you an advantage, but it will not put you at a disadvantage.” - John Dribus, Schlumberger
How do I know which job is right for me?
- ”It’s hard to predict exactly what job you’ll like. It is easier to look back and see if you were happy or not with a type of work and company structure. That’s why we encourage a wide range of experiences. See what you liked and do more of it.” - Robert Stewart, University of Houston
How do I get a competitive edge?
- ”There’s no guarantee that if you take this class and not that one, that you will be successful. It’s those other skills that give you an edge and convince us that you should come to work with us. If you do something you enjoy, that will give you confidence. That confidence will give you that edge.” - Steve Brachman, Wapiti Energy
- ”If you’re doing something you’re miserable in, you will not do a good job, and your employer will know it. In my experience, a happy person is a person who performs well. Make sure you make good choices, and choose something you like and enjoy. Do your best, and offer it with pride.” - John Dribus, Schlumberger
- ”Smile, make people comfortable around you. Listen, ask questions, and you’re there.” - Julia Dombrowski, ExxonMobil Corporation