Enrollments are up in almost all petroleum engineering departments across the country and K-12 outreach programs like those conducted here in the Gulf Coast Section are stimulating increased interest for future engineering and geosciences students. However, the growth of one of the most important components of attracting and retaining students in our profession is lagging – internship programs. Summer internship programs serve many vital functions, especially providing the students real-world application and thus greater understanding of their rigorous classroom work. This makes them better students, motivates them to continue, and enhances their interest in our industry. I am sure many of you can testify to this fact. In turn, our companies receive better-trained graduates who make a rapid transition from student to productive engineer or geoscientist. Not to mention the very valuable work product they can offer during their internship! Many larger companies in the oil and gas industry have excellent and robust internship programs that have been in-place for many years. Several even utilize our freshman GCS scholarship award winners as interns the summer before they even start school, talk about a head-start! However the number of different companies offering internships has not grown tremendously over the years. No doubt it takes focused thought and effort to initiate a program from scratch, but with a little guidance it does not have to be difficult and the benefits can far exceed the effort. Maritech Resources recently made that effort and Nora Dool, Director of Human Resources, generously offered to share their experiences as a primer for others who may be interested. After reading Nora’s article below, please contact me if you have any questions, ideas, or general thoughts about increasing the number of internship programs offered for our future engineers and co-workers. And most importantly, please consider being a champion for a new internship program in your own company.
Initiating an Internship Program
Nora M. Dool, Director of Human Resources, Maritech Resources, Inc.
Establishing an Internship Program
Rather than just creating an internship program, we felt the need to assist students who had decided to pursue a career in the oil and gas industry by introducing them to a variety of experiences at Maritech Resources, Inc.
The decision to establish a summer internship program was made in March of 2006. Having previously participated in these programs, I knew that it was a little late in the year to start searching for summer interns. I also realized that, since travel and campus visits were not an option for our small, very busy human resources department, we would have to be creative in our approach. With a great deal of assistance and interest from department leaders and a willingness by everyone involved to work hard, we ended up with three well qualified interns and a successful beginning for our summer internship program.
Locating Qualified Candidates
Identifying potential interns turned out to be less difficult than I had expected, as all major universities now post student resumes online, listing each student’s area of study and GPA information. To access these resumes, we were first required to register as a potential employer. After becoming qualified, we received access to student resumes on various university Web sites and began our search. At the same time, we posted internship opportunities on our own company Web site and on several university sites. Our postings included details of Maritech’s 10-week summer program, responsibilities, and expected achievements. Our 2006 internship opportunities included positions for accounting, petroleum land management, and petroleum engineering candidates.
Of course, the ideal situation would have been to visit campuses during the Fall and Spring and to take part in job fairs, recruiting days, and other related events. In my experience, having face-to-face interaction with potential candidates speeds up and vastly improves the process of identifying candidates who are well matched to an organization. However, we were limited in our 2006 intern quest to reviewing online resumes and those we received in response to our postings. While it required both time and effort, all the work identifying and selecting 2006 interns was able to be completed online and over the phone—from conducting the interview and screening process to extending final candidate offers.
Compensation Determinations and Housing Arrangements
We researched compensation ranges and received guidance from professional organizations, such as the SPE, regarding customary compensation packages. Housing allowance information was obtained by contacting other companies who sponsored internship programs and by networking at professional events. All of the information we received helped us decide on an appropriate package to include in our invitation.
After receiving acceptance from our three candidates, we began researching housing accommodation options for the interns who were not currently living in our area. We found that most apartment managers were familiar with the short term nature of intern housing needs. We also found them to be accommodating in working with us and our student interns. When visiting the apartment managers, we obtained applications and information for utility deposits. In making housing arrangements, we considered the personal situations of the interns, including whether they were single or married. Ultimately, Maritech chose to pay deposits for each apartment and to allocate a monthly housing allowance for each intern.
Once our interns reported to work in June of 2006, they received the same orientation as our full time employees and then they began working in earnest. Our goal was to expose them to as many facets of our business as possible in 10 weeks. In fact, as part of his duties working in the reservoir department, our petroleum engineer intern was sent offshore to observe field operations.
Having had so much success in 2006, we decided to continue building upon and funding the internship program. For 2007, we were able to get an earlier start publicizing our program and identifying candidates; however, we still conducted the entire process online and via phone interviews. Our 2007 orientation included a lunch where the interns were able to meet the senior management team, something that was extremely well received on both sides. It was entertaining and beneficial for the young interns to hear about the internship experience of many of our senior managers.
Our four 2007 program interns included:
- a petroleum engineering student working in our Operations group with our P&A Coordinator,
- a finance student gaining experience in our Marketing department,
- a geologist graduate gaining experience in our Geoscience department, and
- an accounting candidate working in our Finance/Accounting area.
As part of his duties, the petroleum engineering student traveled to our Timbalier Bay field to observe P&A procedures, ongoing drilling, and completions work; he also performed a cost analysis study comparing cement services for inland waters. To gain field experience, the finance student visited our Timbalier Bay field with our Measurement Supervisor. Upon his return, he said that hearing about the industry and its history on the long drive was the pinnacle of his summer experience. The geologist graduate spent the summer generating maps and quantifying the remaining oil and gas potential of an eight-reservoir interval over a portion of one of our fields, using seismic data and well logs. At the end of the internship, he presented his findings to the senior geoscience team. Although several opportunities were determined to be too small to justify stand-alone wells at this time, his mapping project justified two recompletions for the company’s 2008 program. Our accounting intern remained after the summer to work part time during the school year and will likely transition to full time status upon graduation later this year.
Going forward, I plan to continue to improve and expand our program. In light of Maritech’s recent property acquisitions, I am hoping to extend the program to include five interns in 2008. Ultimately, as the company grows, I would like to be able to make campus visits to meet intern candidates in person and further develop our university relationships. However, we are not going to let the size of our department inhibit the internship program’s development, so, in the mean time, we will continue using our successful online and phone approach.