Exploring Your Options In The Petroleum Industry As A Student


If you’re already in a petroleum-specific college or university program, you’re one big step ahead of the competition.

However, you can’t just rely on your degree or diploma – there are still plenty of other extra-curricular and career-exploration activities you should engage in to learn more about the industry and develop meaningful experience in your field.

Extra-curricular activities are beneficial because they can teach you new skillsets, provide the opportunity to socialize with other students, and allow you to network with more established professionals in your field. When you pair these activities with participation in organizations and groups specifically related to your career path, there’s no way oil and gas employers will be able to resist you!


Student societies can provide professional and academic development opportunities and help you get more from your student experience. Most engineering schools have student societies, and some even have specific sub-groups for petroleum or mineral engineering students.

Student groups based on your interests can also provide valuable experience. For example, many schools have environmental or sustainability groups, such as the Lambton College Students for Environmental Awareness and Sustainability or UBC’s Chemical and Biological Engineering Sustainability Club, which could give you knowledge and experience in one of the hottest areas of the natural resource industry right now.

The Society of Petroleum Engineers Canada also has chapters at nine universities across Canada, including the University of Alberta, Cape Breton University, College of the North Atlantic, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, University of Calgary, University of Regina and University of Saskatchewan.

Don’t see your school on the list? Look into starting a chapter at your school.

Oil and gas employers and industry associations are often strongly engaged with student associations, so being an active member – or a student leader – increases your chances of getting noticed by employers.


Participation in local, provincial and national engineering and geoscience organizations can put you in contact with mentors in the field, upper year students and networking opportunities.

The Canadian Society for Petroleum Geologists (CSPG) offers many different opportunities for students to learn more about geosciences and the petroleum industry, including student membership, lecture tours and free events for young geoscientists. CSPG also supports three regional student conferences, judging presentations and offering trophies for the best presenters. Although the purpose of the conferences is for graduate students to present their research, undergraduate students can still attend and volunteer for them.

CSPG’s Student Industry Field Trip (SIFT) program allows one third-year student from each Canadian university offering a geoscience or geological engineering degree to spend two weeks in Calgary to attend lecture series, workshops and field trips related to the petroleum industry. Interested students may also participate in a summer employment program, allowing you to get direct experience with petroleum employers.

The Association for Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Saskatchewan (APEGS) hosts a variety of events that may benefit students in engineering and the geosciences, and has a goal of helping students find work in their areas of interest while they are in school. Similarly, the ASAP program offered through the Association of Professional Engineering and Geoscience in Alberta (APEGA) has a work and volunteer database and offers student scholarships in several engineering and geoscience disciplines. Both organizations can also help students in Engineering programs learn more about the process to become professionally certified engineers after graduation.

For college students and graduates, various provincial technologist and technician professional associations offer membership as well, such as the Association of Science and Engineering Technology Professionals of Alberta or the Ontario Association of Certified Engineering Technicians and Technologists.

These are only a few examples of how you can learn more about the petroleum industry while you are still a student. To find out more, you can also visit your school’s career center for more ideas.

Petroleum Week

Visit the Petroleum Career Guide to learn more about careers in the oil and gas industry, and find student and entry-level jobs from top petroleum employers.