If there’s one thing you can do that will help you figure out whether you’d like to work in the oil and gas industry and that will help you land a job in the industry (if you want one), it’s completing at least one co-op term before you graduate.
That’s the advice Camille Nieva, field recruiter at Savanna Energy Services, has for Canadian students. “The best way to get in is through a co-op program,” she says.
Many companies offer co-op or internship programs for students in accounting, marketing and finance programs as well as engineering and science programs.
After graduation, there’s still hope, Nieva says, but recent grads will have to apply to jobs as an outsider through job postings on websites like TalentEgg, or through recruitment agencies.
Keep reading for more advice from Savanna Energy Services’ field recruiter.
Q. Why is now a good time for students and recent grads to get started in the oil and gas industry?
A. It’s a good time because after the recession, the industry seems to be on the way up and moving again. It’s a good time to be able to get in a co-op program or a full-time positions. I think a lot of companies are looking at candidates to join their teams.
Q. What do you think is the best part about working in the industry?
A. I think the best part is, in my role, it’s pretty diverse, especially with Savanna because it’s a growing company. They’re very open about giving people different tasks in their roles. Even though I do field recruitment, I also do corporate recruitment and there are lots of other HR things that I get to do as well. I think if you can look at a company and see what kind of different things that they can give you, that will help with your portfolio and help you get experience.
Q. How would you address some of the common misconceptions students and recent grads may have about working in the oil and gas industry?
A. Around safety, every company is really focusing on improving their safety standards, from safety rewards program where employees need to report incidents, to trying to have zero accidents. Safety is number one, especially for the field work.
A lot of field workers, even though they start in the field, often end up coming into office positions such as research and development and operations management, and there are office positions for them. Many of the top management here at Savanna started out in the field. Our general manager started out as a floor hand and he’s now the vice-president of [well servicing]. Even if you start in the field, you’re actually one of the first picks to become higher management because you have that experience out there.
A lot of companies are upgrading the type of rigs they’re using out there – each company is always developing new technology. And Savanna also has one of the newest fleets out there.
TalentEgg Tip: It’s true – most of Savanna’s equipment is less than five years old and uses some really innovative techniques to optimize safety and minimize environmental impact. See for yourself: Savanna has photo galleries of its drilling and well servicing rigs on its website.
Q. What’s the typical student experience like at Savanna?
A. The best way to get into the industry is to try to get into a co-op program before you graduate. Work with your career and employment centre and they’ll help you get into different companies that way.
We actually just finished processing through a couple of co-op students to start in our accounting department for an eight-month co-op program. We went through the University of Calgary . . . they wanted to get some experience before they graduate.
During your co-op program, if the company likes you, they might keep you on as a full-time student or even part-time until you finish school. We’ve had several employees who have gone through that here at Savanna. Once you have an oil and gas company in your resumé, other oil and gas companies in the industry notice that and they tend to look more at those types of resumés.
Q. What’s advice would you give to students or recent grads who are trying to get into the industry?
A. Attend networking events. There are many different organizations that put together networking events where students can meet professionals from different industries. That’s a good way to start getting contacts to see where you’d like to apply. Students can probably find upcoming events near them through their career centres.
The oil and gas industry also offers opportunities for current students to work through their vacation as floorhands to fund their studies. This is another good way to get exposure and experience in this industry.
TalentEgg’s Petroleum Career Guide and this editorial feature were produced in partnership with the Petroleum Labour Market Information (PetroLMI) Division of Enform. For more information about starting your career in the oil and gas industry, please visit www.careersinoilandgas.com.