Austyn Rattee was born and raised in Calgary, where he attended Bishop O’Byrne high school. Like the rest of his classmates, he was faced with making a big decision: what his next move after graduation would be. Looking for a new challenge, Austyn decided to pursue a degree in engineering.
“There aren’t any engineers in my family, so in high school I didn’t have a clear vision of what engineering really entailed,” says Austyn. “The opportunity to learn something new and excel in a field that others were telling me was difficult really sparked my interest.”
He began his studies at the University of Calgary, where he eventually narrowed his focus down to Chemical Engineering. Austyn knew he needed more than a degree to achieve his career goals – he needed real experience in a professional environment.
Luckily, Austyn found the Relief Operator Summer Student (ROSS) Program at Canadian Natural, which gave him the opportunity to explore his potential with the help of seasoned professionals. He says that even though his placement was only a few months long, it has helped him improve his skillset and gain confidence.
Discovering the ROSS Program
Austyn first discovered this opportunity while he was searching for potential summer positions. He began his hunt by listing major oil companies, with Canadian Natural at the very top. After exploring their website, the ROSS Program immediately caught his attention.
“I liked the prospect of getting hands-on experience in the oil field,” says Austyn. “When I learned that Canadian Natural trained their students to independently operate oil wells, I knew that this would be the best introduction to the industry.”
For Austyn, one of the best parts of the program was the fact that students were given a lot of responsibility. During his summer at Canadian Natural, he was given a group of wells to operate and maintain. On a typical day, Austyn would drive to his different wells and assess them. Some days his wells would be fully operational, while on others he would have to assess the situation and troubleshoot the problem.
“Oddly enough, my favourite part of the job was when I would have to solve a problem,” says Austyn. “Looking back, I learned the most about myself and the industry by thinking on my feet and applying my knowledge.”
“Having to think on my feet and apply my industry knowledge to a problem gives me the kind of satisfaction you can’t get from an A on a test.” Austyn Rattee, Relief Operator Summer Student at Canadian Natural
Learning on the job
Almost every student in the ROSS program will agree that the experience is challenging, but rewarding. For Austyn, his biggest hurdle was making the transition from academic student to Field Operator. He knew that the company was giving him a lot of responsibility, and his actions would directly affect the organization and the people he worked with.
Luckily for Austyn, he had a great team of professionals training and supporting him throughout his program. For his first few weeks in the field, he worked with one operator who trained him in his role. However, the entire team of operators were always on hand and eager to offer their assistance.
“The Lead Operators and Foremen have a “call me anytime, 24 hours a day” policy,” says Austyn. “It showed me they understood that it takes time to learn and operate, and they were willing to help with the process.”
“The experience and knowledge I attained in the ROSS program is crucial to any aspiring engineer in the oil and gas industry. This experience has given me an incredible advantage for when I graduate.” Austyn Rattee, Relief Operator Summer Student at Canadian Natural
As a result of this support, Austyn quickly learned the ins and outs of his role, how to effectively approach tasks, and troubleshoot issues that arose. He says that his critical thinking skills were especially tested, as well as his ability to take calculated risks.
Reflecting on a valuable experience
Austyn’s time in the ROSS program gave him access to resources, tasks, and connections for his engineering career. His experiences with Canadian Natural have given him industry insights that can’t be learned in the classroom.
Want to hatch a career with Canadian Natural? Here’s Austyn’s advice:
- Always ask questions. Sometimes the answer to an issue isn’t obvious, so don’t be afraid to work through it with a co-worker.
- Keep an open mind. While it’s important to trust yourself and your abilities, you should always be willing to listen to others with more experience.
- Get exposure. This is especially important if your program with Canadian Natural is short. Take advantage of every opportunity – the knowledge you gain will be invaluable to your career.
Engineering is a very competitive field, and that’s just the way Austyn likes it. His accomplishments over the summer have given him the confidence to take on new projects both in the classroom and the workplace. His prospects in the field of engineering are exciting, and he’s eager to see where they will lead him.
“I think many aspects of my life have been improved since I began pursuing engineering,” says Austyn. “I have met some very inspiring and influential people, from professors who develop groundbreaking technology to CEOs of major corporations.”
Even though he’s still in school, Austyn has learned some valuable lessons from the ROSS program that he wants to share with his fellow engineering students looking to break into the oil and gas industry.
“Take the time early in your careers to get some field experience,” he says. “Having that foundation will make all the difference in your career!”