Obviously this isn’t the best time to graduate in Geophysics, Geology or Engineering if you have a plan to make a career in oil & gas at this time 2016. However, it isn’t the first time that such precipitous fall in the oil prices has taken place, and many people in the industry today graduated when the prices of oil previously hit low levels, quite similar to the present situation. So what are the things that new graduates should do in order to position themselves for the time when oil prices finally begins rising again and “recovery” starts in the oil industry.
Keep your options open
It might be that you have tailored the degree carefully in order to have a career in oil & gas, but there are some associated disciplines that are worth consideration. These include:
Mining Environmental geology
- Mechanical engineering
- Civil engineering
Almost any job is going to be relevant in one way or the other – it might provide you with practice and training in presenting, help you improve computer skills, or at very least it will help you interact with other people and you will get to learn from their experiences. Later on you can parlay it in to relevant experience on the CV. Moreover it will also provide you with salary to keep your bread and butter going.
Build Your Network
Get in touch with other engineers and geologists to attend the conferences (take advantage of the student rates or see the suggestion 4 below about volunteering). Ask to connect with as many oil & gas professionals as possible. Obviously meeting face to face will be most beneficial. When you go to any event, be straight forward and introduce yourself. Do some research on the speaker and their field of research so that you can ask intelligent questions. Politely ask any questions that you have and they will hopefully remember you.
This will certainly give you with very valuable life experience and the employers will be more interested as it will demonstrate that you are an independent person. You can also visit the areas that have close proximity to the oil & gas operations, as it might result in you getting the roles that are not advertised, like joining rig crew.
It is a wise decision to sign up for the Master’s degree. It is like entering into a holding pattern while waiting for the prices of oil to rise, at the same time gaining valuable qualification. I can’t recommend either thesis or course based Masters programs but you will get valuable knowledge and tools that are relevant to oil industry in both cases. Personally, I would recommend the thesis-based Masters as it demonstrates resilience to complete one. It also demonstrates the ability of closing out projects, ability of collecting, collating, evaluating, integrating and interpreting data and then sharing your results with other people. And of course there is a great opportunity of leveraging your project through presenting at the technical conferences or for the special interest groups. This will help you get in public eye and it will help you to build your network.
Regarding the PhDs, the key attributes are a project that’s somewhat relevant to the industry (that is preferably funded by oil companies, a single company or a consortium). In addition the project should be of your interest, as you would be spending a minimum of 3 years working on the project. It would be better, if the project is field based.
Commonly, the graduate students are looking for the field assistants. You might just be able to grab a great travel opportunity with great learning and good field experience thrown in. Usually, room and board are included. You can visit engineering or geology departments at the universities and tell them that you are interested in helping. You might also get the opportunity to help with the labs and as demonstrator. It is guaranteed that you’ll learn a lot if you take on such a role.
Another great thing that you can do is to join relevant organizations and attend the conferences and meetings. Usually you can volunteer to receptions, man booths, etc. at the conferences. You will get to attend free of cost. Such events provide great chances of networking. Many organizations like SPE, IADC, AAPG and CSPG, have reduced rates for the students. A number of other volunteer opportunities for different organizations are also there.
A number of other ways of practicing your skills are there. Read papers, Do some off the cuff fieldwork. Take some free online courses. Learn the terminology of oil field. Go to the schools to give presentations. Go to the museums and ask them if you can be of any help. Set up some field trips looking at the stones of buildings in your area and you can do online advertisement of such a trip. Just go wild with your imagination.
At the end of the day, it is suggested by the history that the oil prices are going to rise again in future, and at that point you can start applying for the new opportunities. The important thing is that you should not let this waiting period go to waste.