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#OperationLateralMobility—Members-in-Transition Success Stories for Recent Graduates

Yogashri Pradhan, Production Engineer, Texas Oil and Gas Institute

For recent graduates and entry-level engineers, the low-price environment can make finding job opportunities difficult. We have heard numerous stories from around the world of professionals with limited experience finding jobs, despite the fact that a large number of posted job positions require at least 5 years of work experience.

Here we share stories from three recent graduates who successfully navigated the transition period between graduation and employment. These individuals took responsibility for their professional training to successfully land jobs despite the adverse job climate. In their own words, they share their experience and advice for how others with little to no work experience can also secure employment.

Same Company, New Career

Title: Production Engineer

Graduation: Texas A&M University Qatar, BSPE 2016

I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering from Texas A&M University at Qatar in May 2016; this was at the pinnacle of the current oil crisis. I also graduated at the age of 33 years after a journey that took 7 years of hardship juggling work, university, and family of wife and four kids. To add to the complication, I graduated while working for a natural gas production and liquefaction company in a nontechnical field, where people’s perception of a former technical assistant outgrowing his position and becoming an engineer was an additional obstacle. Realizing all of the above made me less optimistic about my future. However, against all the odds, I have managed to land an opportunity within the same company as a production engineer.

Understanding the set of challenges I was confronted by was an important step in my path to success.

I had to stay motivated and change my perception from being a victim to an opportunity seeker.

This made me do all that is required from seeking university options within Qatar and getting accepted into Texas A&M University, to managing university and office time and workload. All of this wouldn’t have been possible without the support of my wife, kids, professors, and supervisor at work.

Also, during the summer of 2015, I managed to spend 6 weeks rotating within a company petroleum engineering department, fulfilling my degree requirement and gaining exposure to real field challenges. I was assigned a production engineering project, where I used the knowledge and skills gained at the university to come up with conclusions that were used in optimizing production to minimize flaring during testing operations. It helped showcase the quality of education I have acquired and was a testament to the strength of the petroleum engineering program at Texas A&M University at Qatar that ultimately became the reason I was offered my dream job.

I understand and agree that we are currently passing through an oil crisis and everyone including myself is [at risk of] losing their job. However, always remember to work on what you can change, and that is you. Stay motivated and look for any opportunity that would get you close to a job. This could be any job in the oil or gas sector, even if without pay. Promote yourself well and powerfully when applying for jobs. Return back to universities for further studies, and remember, an employer can take a job from you but cannot take an acquired knowledge or skill. Most importantly, stay positive and optimistic as these are qualities that attract people that bring along with them opportunities.

Making the Jump to a Startup

Title: Petroleum Project Management Engineer

Graduation: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, BSPE 2014

I graduated in 2014 with a bachelor of science degree in petroleum engineering to obtain a job opportunity. However, after receiving my diploma, the low oil prices affected my possible entry to the company, which directly affected my career within the company and did not allow me to continue learning and developing.

Fortunately, and because of my different programming skills, projects evaluation, and management and technical expertise in reservoir and production engineering, I was known to many engineers in Schlumberger. An engineer who left Schlumberger, along with a great technical team and investors, created a company in Mexico. He invited me to the company where I am currently working as a petroleum project management engineer.

Advice that I think is helpful to recent graduates is not to be afraid of changes and challenges and never waste time. Take advantage [of opportunities] to study another language, perfect techniques of programming, go to science fairs and student paper contests, look for courses to improve soft skills, perfect knowledge of Microsoft Office tools, read more about the industry, and most importantly know the oil business.

Currently, being only a technical engineer can become a problem.

Being open to knowing all disciplines such as petroleum geophysics, geology, petrophysics, simulation, drilling, finance, legal, and economics, among many others in the value chain of the industry, allows us to grow and be a more complete engineer, which allows us as young professionals to continue maximizing the value of hydrocarbons in the world.

Persistence Pays Off

Title: Real-Time Operations Support Engineer

Graduation: Maharashtra Institute of Technology, Pune, BEPE 2016

When I entered my sophomore year, the oil industry at USD 120/bbl was a majestic environment. Industry was booming, the hustle and bustle at oil and gas events and enthusiasm in the fraternity was mind-blowing. Being involved in engineering studies, internships, projects, and industrial visits side-by-side increased my technical knowledge and sharpened my interpersonal skills. Being actively involved in SPE activities (Distinguished Lecturer Program, annual fests, conferences, Advanced Technology Workshops, and Energy4me programs) boosted my confidence and also provided me a platform to hone my writing skills for volunteer blogs and departmental magazines. Finally, I entered my senior year with my power-packed résumé but soon realized the gloomy market sustaining in the period. Keeping great hopes, I completed my final year thesis with flying colors.

After graduating, reality was too harsh to digest. I increased my activity on LinkedIn and started searching regional companies in my country. I also applied to various graduate programs of international oil and gas majors and cleared their screening tests but to no avail. Writing hundreds of emails to each and every company switched to personally calling up HR and enquiring about vacancies. Many people obliged and offered career advice but no jobs/internships.

With all the skills I developed during my engineering studies and extracurricular involvement in SPE, I took up a temporary job in a startup. In early December 2016, things starting rolling on the petroleum side too. After quite a few hundreds of follow-ups, I started receiving replies for graduate vacancies. My interview process started with [only a] few companies and eventually I landed two job offers from top brass companies.

SPE webinars, technology magazines, and online platforms provided a great forum for knowledge sharing and helped me keep updated about current know-how. From being un-employed at a particular time, to pursuing my writing interests in a startup to having two core-petroleum job offers, my journey has been fascinating and a roller-coaster ride.

The emotions and struggle made me strong and ready to face challenges in the future.

This was a fruitful result of my attitude, dedication, and resilience toward petroleum engineering, which was developed during my involvement in college and SPE.

My advice to SPE members is to keep learning, equipping yourself with the latest trends, and volunteering/proactiveness in SPE online and offline activities. Finally I would like to mention one of my favorite quotes which still holds true:

“Oil business was more like an epic card game, in which excitement was worth more than great stacks of chips.” – William C. Mellon

If you are a recent graduate or an entry-level professional affected by the low oil and gas prices and have successfully found a job, please email your story to SPE Gulf Coast Section (SPE-GCS) Members-in-Transition initiative at MiTStories@gmail.com. You will remain anonymous and your story will be posted on the SPE GCS website. Click here to read the additional stories I have collected.