Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. (CNRL) offers a unique experience for students to develop their skills and gain hands-on experience as interns or co-op students.
Harrison Duncan has been interning with Canadian Natural for just over a year, and he says this experience has been exactly what he was looking for. Harrison shared his story with TalentEgg, highlighting his favourite parts of the internship so far. Keep reading to learn what a typical day looks like for an intern at Canadian Natural
Harrison is a student at Queen’s University, where he is pursuing his Civil Engineering degree. Before going back to finish his fourth and final year, Harrison decided to complete a 16 month work term with Canadian Natural. So far, he has completed 4 months on site as a Field Operator, where he works in heavy oil production. Currently, he’s working in the office as an Exploitation Engineering intern.
Why he chose Canadian Natural
For Harrison, the choice to work at Canadian Natural was clear. This program had features that he valued in an internship over all his other options. In particular, he was excited about the opportunity to work both in the field and in an office environment – it was exactly what he needed to help him grow as a student and to prepare for his career as a new grad.
“As someone who previously had no experience in the industry, I wanted to get out and learn how the industry operated at a hands-on level,” says Harrison. “Canadian Natural’s program was a perfect fit.”
Harrison also loved the fact that the company offers a lot of responsibility and accountability to students during their term. Students are strongly advised to have field experience before moving into the office, which suited him well – after all, it’s extremely beneficial for individuals in this industry to have a full understanding of all the aspects of the business.
A typical day at work
Harrison lives with another Queen’s University student interning with Canadian Natural. In the morning, he says he spends about an hour getting ready for his work day, leaving 10 minutes to walk to work with his housemate.
Harrison typically begins his work day at 8 am by catching up on emails. Then, he maps out the rest of his day according to the different tasks he has to accomplish. One of Harrison’s favourite things about working at Canadian Natural is the freedom he has to build his own work schedule – project prioritization and time management are left up to the students for many of their tasks, unless something comes up that requires more immediate attention.
“Students aren’t micromanaged,” he says, “It allows for us to make the most of our internships and present ourselves in the best way possible for future employment with the company.”
For a large part of the day, Harrison and the other interns in his division are responsible for completing paperwork and analyzing documents. They make recommendations based on data, which impacts where company projects will move to next.
“Compiling all of this information, looking for suitable offsets in the area, and risking the chance of success of the project is all part of the students’ job.” Harrison explains.
At noon, it’s finally lunchtime for the interns! Because the offices are located right downtown, there are many choices for lunch, though Harrison says he tries to bring lunch a few times a week to cut down on costs.
“Many employees also use this time to go to the gym or for a walk around downtown to get some fresh air,” he says. “It is your time to do with as you choose.”
Recently, Harrison had the exciting opportunity to fly out to Canadian Natural’s Bonnyville site where he and the rest of the team met with the well operators to discuss challenges and areas of improvement. This was a great chance for Harrison to demonstrate his skills as an intern by preparing documents with production graphs and operating expenditure reports for the well review.
Five o’clock marks the end of Harrison’s day, and he is ready to go home and relax before beginning another day! He tells us that while this is the typical structure of his day, the tasks in his job always vary, which is something he really enjoys.
“One of the things I like so much about the position is the breadth of assignments given to students ranging from the mapping of probable undeveloped locations to assisting with budget system entries,” he says. “Each day is different which keeps the job exciting and engaging while always increasing my knowledge of the industry and its operations.”
The engineering industry is constantly growing and changing, which keeps an engineer’s work exciting. Something Harrison finds interesting as an intern is seeing first-hand how companies choose to respond to changes in the heavy oil industry, and particularly Canadian Natural’s unique approach.
“Canadian Natural chooses to view changes in the industry as an opportunity to optimize all existing assets to their fullest potential,” he explains.
This approach means that Harrison gets to participate in unique opportunities with the company such as travelling on site to Bonnyville with the rest of the team to complete hands-on activities. He really enjoys that Canadian Natural gives him work that is both relevant to his career and allows him to contribute his knowledge to the company.
“All of the things that you do here are not only relevant to what you would be doing if you worked as a full time employee, but also carry weight towards the success of the company as a whole, which is something I find very rewarding”
“All of the things that you do here are not only relevant to what you would be doing if you worked as a full time employee, but also carry weight towards the success of the company as a whole which is something I find very rewarding.”Harrison Duncan, Intern Canadian Natural Resources Ltd.