MiT Graduate Stories
Hear from recent MiT graduates about their professional journeys and how the Members in Transition group at SPE-Gulf Coast Section made a positive impact on their success.
It could be difficult finding positions online when most of the positions require at least five years of experience. However, members of all experience levels can find opportunities in this industry! If you are a graduating senior or a fellow recent graduate (less than 5 years of industry experience), take a look at what your peers have done and what advice they imparted!
“I graduated with my Petroleum Engineering degree in 2015 I was among the lucky ones who was able to start working in the industry right after graduation. I worked for a service company as a frac engineer and had the opportunity to learn through a hands-on approach. Unfortunately, though this was during the time that oil prices had begun to sink lower and lower. Every week there would be fewer people who showed up for work and it was pretty scary how fast business dried up. Eventually I was laid off as well about a year in.
What I realized from this was that even though the industry was going through a tough time, I still had a petroleum engineering degree behind my name. Being a petroleum engineer doesn’t mean that you only know oil & gas and are incompetent in everything else. Quite the opposite was the case. As petroleum engineers, we are training in several different engineering fields in addition to economics, finance, and management. I used this to my advantage when applying for different jobs and was able to move on to finding a job in Dubai as a consultant.
My advice to SPE members who are about to graduate or who are recent graduates is to expand your horizons when it comes to the job search.”
Oil and Gas Consultant, TAMU BSPE’ 15
"I was clueless about how networking works in the United States job market when I graduated from Missouri Univ of Science and Tech right after the crash of prices in 2014. I gave up on online applications and started learning how to network (yes, you have to learn how to properly network). Soon (in a couple of months - 4 to be exact), my network started blooming and my new friends started referring me to positions that they heard about. One position that I heard about had someone I met while networking listed as the "manager". I emailed him directly and asked for a phone call to discuss the role - pretty soon I had an interview. Honestly, I was being interviewed during the first phone call itself, simply because the manger remembered me. That interview landed me the role.
Couple of things to remember during this process - Always work on your network and always help your friends. If you see a role that you are not a good fit for - refer a friend who is looking and is a good fit. Network more with people who are employed while improving on yourself - items like personality, scheduling, prioritizing etc. Make sure that you exercise and play or you will burn out extremely quickly. Avail of professional organization's benefits for members in transition. Dont be afraid to invest whatever little money you have in your job search - of course invest wisely. Your univ alumni will be surprisingly helpful. Online applications are still necessary, but they should never take up more than 15% of the time you work towards your next position.
In my opinion, Job Search is rarely about luck. It is instead about being in the right place in the right time with the right set of credentials and most importantly, the right set of friends (/network)."
Data Scientist, Missouri University of Science and Technology MS’ 14
“Early last year I got the somewhat unexpected news that I, along with 40% of my office was, was to be laid off with my last day not for a couple of months. After my last day, I hit the job search hard, and was finally hired again three months later. My best advice beyond the obvious ‘don’t give up’ spiel is to flood the market with your resume and apply to as many jobs as you can. A lot of people say connections are the best way to get a job, while this may be true, it is not the only way. The job I landed was one I had applied to online with zero personal connections. Even if you don’t quite fit the criteria (within reason, of course), apply. I have received a couple of phone calls now after finding employment from companies that I had previously applied for but with a different position that they thought I would better fit. Bottom line: do not be discouraged and think that your online search efforts are futile.”
Petroleum Engineering Tech, UT BSPE’ 15
“I graduated in May 2015 and went straight to work for an oil and gas company as a Production Engineer. After the market fell out, the company made some pretty extensive cuts to their staff – I was unfortunately a part of that process in early 2016. You could spend all day online searching for job openings, apply to anything relevant and never hear back – regardless of how impressive your resume may have been. Although it felt like it at the time, I knew my resume didn’t require years of experience to get back in the door. To me, it became more of who you know instead of what you know. The oil and gas industry is a fairly small industry, all things considered. I took on the mentality that every person I meet on the street is an opportunity. I took the time to speak with anyone I could about their careers and what they do and whether that career path could enhance my overall knowledge of the oil and gas industry. I didn’t want to be close-minded to the many different opportunities this industry has to offer. I was more than willing to work within a different sector of the industry in an attempt to increase my overall knowledge knowing that this was all temporary and in time, I’d soon have the role I desired again. Opportunities present themselves in mysterious ways. I was presented my latest opportunity through a friend of a friend of a friend. If you just get out there and promote your abilities to the people of this industry, one day the opportunity you’ve been waiting on will come knocking at your door – just be patient. I know in the long run, I will be better off for my experience of being laid off. I never would’ve thought I’d be a Drilling Engineer with a company that has less than 40 employees.
My advice for young engineers in college or just graduated: get out there and try to learn as much about the industry as you can (upstream, downstream, midstream). When you speak with someone within the industry, understand why their role is necessary to the industry. Try to imagine that one day you will own your own oil and gas company. When that day comes, you will probably thank yourself for paying so much attention to the industry as a whole when you were younger. You never know where your career will be tomorrow, it’ll always pay off to have an open mind and accept that you may not be that Production Engineer with a large company your whole career.”
Drilling Engineer, LSU BSPE’ 15
“I was hired on by an oil and gas company after graduation working as a production engineer. Due to the critical price environment, the company made some workforce reductions and my position was affected. Given that I was a recent graduate, I knew I had to stay on top of obtaining learning opportunities, or I’d lose touch of what I was just grasping.
I met with someone, attended a networking event, or searched every single day. I volunteered through SPE’s various events and shared my ideas to those who were also in transition. I had no idea I could help others and teach networking to industry professionals. One of my contacts who I notified sent me my future boss’ contact information. After sending my information, I was invited to interview, and I landed the position as a production engineer for another organization.
My advice to people with my level of experience is to keep yourself busy, let everyone know about what you’re looking because you never know who could help you, never stop looking, keep an open mind, and realize there is an opportunity out there regardless of experience. The more you give yourself a chance, the more likely you’ll succeed.”
Production Engineer, UT BSPE’ 15
“After working 3 years in oil & gas, for 3 different companies, in 3 different roles; I was laid off along with my whole team in September 2016. Unlike a lot of my colleagues, I was not eager to jump back into a troubling industry. My coworkers found jobs within the month at either consulting firms or service companies. I wanted to venture out to a different industry. If that is something a few of the folks that got laid off decide to do. Here are a few suggestions I would have for them. First, don't think because you got laid off, getting your MBA will get you a job. Getting a job because you have an MBA depends ALOT on how many years of experience you have had. If it is more than 4 years then go for it. If it is less than that, than do not do your MBA. You will still land a mediocre job and waste your money. Second, do not expect to make the high salaries you saw in oil & gas. You are joining a new industry, expect to start off at a lower ranking position and building your experience back up. Third, tailor your resume to align with the industry you are applying for. relate your experiences from work to the skills the recruiters are looking for. If you don't, it'll be hard for the recruiters to truly know your skills set (this hurt me big time during interviews for a consultant). Lastly, hang in there. Take your time and apply to positions you can see yourself working. If you end up just working any basic job, you will see your motivation go away, then your work performance, and eventually your job. It took me almost 6 months to find a new position because I switched industries and had to interview relentlessly. At the end, it was well worth it.”
Materials Project Manager, UH BBA’ 13
I graduated with my Masters from UT Austin in August of 2016. As graduation approached and even now, my professional life has a lot of uncertainties. I got my first job after graduation by applying for jobs posted by the career center at UT. I later learned that this job was not a good fit for me, so I kept applying for other jobs and going to career fairs. I spoke with a recruiter at the UT career fair. I ended up getting an internship with that company and I’m really enjoying the work I’m doing there. I’m still not sure where I will end up after this internship is over. Therefore, the first pieces of advice I would give students or recent graduates is to embrace uncertainties, even though it can be scary at times. Also, don’t be afraid or discouraged by rejection. Keep on putting yourself out there and applying for positions that interest you.
Geology Intern, UT MS EER’16
“Graduating at a time when the oil prices has been on the low for 17 months was hard. Added to that Feb 16 saw the oil prices below $30/bbl. At that time I had made a decision - a tough one but something I thought was necessary. Diversifying my knowledge across other industries as a hedging tool. I today work closely with energy but also work with the industry of transportation and logistics. I had always wanted to get into the financial services and banking, but the knowledge of the Oil and Gas markets is something I will definitely have as an asset. Keep options open - make sure that passion does not supersede reality. Apart from being good technically, developing self confidence and strong communication skills is extremely important.”
Jr. Business Developement Manager - Energy, Transportation & Logistics, PSU, BSPNG’ 16
“As a one year entry level petroleum engineer working at a large E&P, my career was directly affected by the downturn. Coming into the job, I was certain this sort of thing wouldn’t happen to someone so new, but I soon learned I wasn’t the exception. It took a while to not take it personally, but I had to remind myself I was a number and I had done no wrong. Instead of mourning and feeling sorry for myself, I knew I had no time to waste. Within three days, my resume was polished and my job search began. I was initially disheartened, as no E&P was hiring someone with so little experience. But as I spoke to mentors, I learned I didn’t necessarily have to abandon the oil industry if I didn’t work for an oil company. It was time to think outside the box, as I realized engineers aren’t the only ones churning the barrels. I looked into energy banking, energy consulting, and even state energy jobs. After three months of searches, nos, maybes, and no responses, I found an oil and gas research and consulting firm that was willing to take a chance on me. When I started the job, I immediately felt valued for coming in with technical experience, and I felt empowered telling my story to my peers. It’s not only important, but also necessary to remember that though life works in mysterious ways sometimes, your skills as a petroleum engineer will not go to waste if the door is shut on you. Going through this experience so early on in your career can only make your ceiling go higher.”
Oil and Gas Analyst, UT BSPE’14
I graduated in 2014 of a Bachelor’s of Science in Petroleum Engineering to obtain a job opportunity. However, after finishing the career and 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 what I initially formed.
Fortunately and because of my different programming skills, projects evaluation, management and technical expertise in reservoir and production engineering, I was allowed to be known by many engineers in Schlumberger, but an engineer who left Schlumberger with a great technical team and investors created a company in Mexico, after this creation, he invite and chosen me by all the group to enter directly to the company as Petroleum Project Management Engineer where I am currently working.
A very important advice that I think it is so helpful to the recent graduates, is not to be afraid of changes, challenges and never waste time. Take advantage to study another language, to perfect techniques of programming, go to science fairs, student paper contests, to 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, be only a technical engineer can become a problem, know and open to all disciplines such as Petroleum Geophysics, Geology, Petrophysics, Simulation, Drilling, Finance, Legal, Economics, among many others in the value chain of Industry, allow us to grow and be a more complete engineer, which does allow as Young Professionals to continue maximizing the value of hydrocarbons in the world.
Petroleum Project Management Engineer, UNAM BSPE’14
I graduated from Montana Tech in the Spring of 2015 thinking I had everything worked out. After spending the previous two summers working as an intern for an oil and gas company, I had already signed an offer to start as a Production as part of their rotational program. As prices began to decline, I realized that layoffs were imminent, and that as a young engineer in the company, my odds were slim. The day of the layoffs, I watched as many of my friends and colleagues went offline their company accounts and knew when our Superintendent came into my office that I was next.
After being laid off, there were tough times where I wondered if I should even stay in the industry or if it was time to pursue another career. But everyone gets knocked down, the only question is who gets back up?
My advice to young Petroleum Engineers is to do as much networking as you can in school. Attend as many SPE events and technical talks as possible, attend alumni events through your school, and keep in contact with the people you graduate and work with. For young engineers like ourselves, it can be tough to match up on paper with other engineers that have more experience when applying for jobs. But all you need is a connection to get your foot in the door to get that opportunity to sell yourself. I filled out countless applications, as I'm sure many of you have, and a majority of the time didn't even receive a notification that I didn't receive the job. At the end of the day, the oil and gas industry is a small world though. By reaching out to contacts I had made through school and work, I was able to seize an opportunity working as a Field Engineer for a frac company and really love what I'm doing. Persistence is the key, stay the course!
Field Engineer, MT BSPE’15
I graduated in 2012, when at the time, you really only needed a pulse to get a job with an operator in the industry. Being near the top of my class, I was hired as a Production Engineering with a major oil company. I was there for two years, and was then moved to another business unit as a Reservoir Engineer. I started in that position in the summer of 2014. Then, around January of 2015, it was announced we would be going through an "Organizational Review". Everyone knew what that really meant. By August 2015, there was the first round of cuts, known as the "bottom performers from the last 3 years". Then, we got our Christmas gift: the announcement that there would be a formal, massive layoff process to be completed by April 2016. We would have to apply for our own job (if it even still existed) and 3 others. If your current job was eliminated, essentially, so were you. And that is what happened to me. Even as a high performer relative to my peers, I was left jobless, with thousands of others to join the unemployment ranks.
I started applying for every single job that I could tie even a single requirement to my resume. I had a couple of interviews early on, but didn't get a yes or a no. The jobs I had interviewed for simply went away and they didn't need anyone to fill them anymore. I even looked into trying to craft my resume to more of a "Project Management" role, in hopes of finding anything in any industry.
Finally, after 8 months of unemployment, I found a job as a Petroleum Engineer. Yes, this is ultimately a success story, but by no means is it one where "it took me 3 months" or "it was who I knew". My advice is to make your resume stand out. That is the only way you will even get past the initial review of hundreds if not thousands of resumes. When I got my job, I was told the job was posted for 10 days and had 800 resumes. So definitely find the best way to highlight your accomplishments and make yourself stand out among the masses. Recognize that you will have to apply for 30 jobs to get just one response, and that response might be an automated email saying "we have reviewed your qualifications and have determined you are not a fit for the role". Being realistic with your expectations will help you in your search.
Petroleum Engineer, WVU BSPNGE 2012