How to Succeed at an Internship Panel- The Highlights
By, Sriniketh Sukumar
As the academic year comes to a close and all students eagerly look forward to a summer filled with vacationing at the beaches, going to music festivals and concerts, visiting friends and family, and of course…internships! While most content and focus, both by us here at the Well Log, as well as the dozens of services offered by our organizations and indeed on campus is on the difficulty and complexity associated with obtaining an internship. For most students, this is a veritably difficult, and it is fitting that most supportive efforts are directed accordingly. However, what about after that internship is finally secured? How can we as interns showcase our talents and personalities in the most favorable light over the summer? This week, SPE’s student mentorship committees’ panel and discussion on succeeding in a petroleum engineering internship explored exactly this, and featured the valuable advice of four highly experienced panel members, who gave advice from various different perspectives. As always, attendees enjoyed a delicious dinner at our event! We highlight their wisdom, in the hope that it benefits you!
Mr. Joshua Becan ‘19
Josh is a petroleum engineering senior, who is all set to graduate this May (2019) with his bachelor’s degree and a certificate in the recently pioneered Petroleum Ventures Program certificate. He interned with Concho resources for two consecutive summers, first as a production intern, and then as a drilling and completion intern. Succeeding at both these internships lead to Josh receiving a full time offer from Concho, and was able to provide valuable advice to his underclassmen, from a fellow student’s perspective as part of this panel.
Josh advices students to make as many contacts as possible, since an internship is an incredible and extended networking opportunity where employers assess the quality of our work over an extended period of time. He advises being able to effectively network with everyone, in addition to producing high quality results is essential to differentiating oneself from others and in landing a return offer for the following summer or an offer for a full-time role.
Dr. Johannes Alvarez ‘17
Dr. Alvarez works for Chevron’s unconventional resources group as a reservoir engineer, after graduating with his PhD in 2017. He interned at Chevron, as well as Conocophilips during his term as a graduate student. He advises that especially for graduate students, being able to remain humble in work environments, where not everyone may be as qualified as you are, is crucial to effectively contributing to a team and building meaningful relationships. This is especially true for those with field engineering internships, as pumpers, landmen, roustabouts, etc. may have no more than a bachelors degree, but have extensive experience in their work, and it is very important to respect that experience and get along with people.
Prof. Cathy Sliva ‘80
Professor Sliva held various positions in the oil and gas industry, including entrepreneurial pursuits over a prolific career of over 30 years, over which she worked with many interns. During her time as a college student, she also held several internships. She advises students to keep a positive attitude when performing work, and to treat the internship like an extended interview. Making connections with both fellow interns and mentors is essential. While it is important to work as a team and ask for help when needed, she also advises that it is important to show independence and ability to think for oneself in assignments given during an internship. She also gave special advice for female engineers in the audience, encouraging them to build confidence and a sense of accord in environments that may be considered offensive, especially in oil and gas roles, which typically occur in male dominated environments. She finally added, on a note about attitude, that when the going get’s rough, it is important not to showcase fatigue, or anything that might show a lack of determination. For example, after a hard week out in the field, or in a highly technical meeting where you are unable to contribute anything meaningful, it is important to just say “I’m Happy to be here!”. A strategy that works every time!
Dr. Sam Noynaert ‘13
Dr. Noynaert graduated with his PhD in 2013 from the department, but held several technical positions, mostly in drilling and completions and worked for BP and EOG resources over his career. As someone who was no stranger to the field, he commented that it is important to learn the “lingo”, or jargon of petroleum engineering to ensure communications are effective. He concurred that the internship is a long interview, adding that, to ensure a favorable impression is made, to always work as hard as possible. The basic idea behind an internship (at least for undergraduates) is not to hire such that interns add a whole lot of value to any specific project. For that, companies would hire consultants. Instead, interns are hired to provide valuable technical training to the next generation, and so interns should be eager and willing to make as much as possible out of the opportunity we are given.
Dr. Noynaert also spoke specifically about field engineering roles, in which the projects given to interns may be underwhelming, and not really useful. To make the most of such situation, oil and gas companies have a huge amount of data on various kinds of operations, (drilling, fracking, workovers, etc.) which could contain valuable information, that nobody has time to analyze. Interns can really make a difference by using available information to overcome valuable results, and go beyond merely doing what you’re told. Make an impact!
In conclusion, all students gained a lot from the experience based advice given by the professors, and as the semester and year comes to an end, we wish everybody a successful and enjoyable summer!