How to find and keep a job – Interview with a recent graduate.


Connor Albrecht is part of the Oil & Gas Engineering division of Texas Railway Commission in Austin. Previously it worked in engineering teams with Halliburton

in Eagle Ford, Parsley Energy in the Permian and Ameredev in the Delaware Basin in New Mexico. He graduated from Texas Tech in 2017 with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. Connor is not afraid to explain the rewards as well as the difficulties of changing jobs within the oil and gas industry. He spoke about his career path, his personal perspectives and where he thinks the industry is heading.

Q. What is the current market for petroleum engineers (PE)?

The market is competitive. Particularly difficult if you are not ready to relocate, move on to a field position or analyst position, or if you are a recent college graduate with little experience, or a seasoned veteran who does not want to undergo a demotion / reduction in salary. Jobs and opportunities in the United States are scarce.

The majority of oil and gas (O&G) jobs in the United States are listed in Midland, TX (Permian Basin), San Antonio, TX (Eagle Ford) or Houston, TX. Many of my colleagues and classmates have completely switched industries or moved to O&G / Energy Investment Groups with JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs

, Black stone

, or smaller private equity firms.

Q. You started as a PE but moved on to an ME (Mechanical Engineer). Why? And how did you overcome the challenges of change?

The world is constantly changing, new technologies are created daily and the job market is changing at the same time. The most comprehensive engineering degree you can get to prepare for the future and work in multiple industries is a Mechanical Engineering degree. Whether you want to work in the O&G industry (Chevron

, Exxon, Shell), Technological Boom (Amazon

, You’re here

, Facebook), Aeronautics (NASA, SpaceX) or Wall Street (Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan), you can do it all with a mechanical engineering degree.

When I changed my degree to first year, I had to accept that I had to stay at university for an extra year in addition to attending summer school. I got around 170 credit hours with most engineering courses and only needed 40 credit hours to double the petroleum and mechanical engineering major. The countless college courses and credit hours were pretty extensive when I remember all the time and hard work it took to get them.

Q. What advantages could a PE major have by staying in the PE program?

Petroleum engineers are known over the years to hold the highest rankings for annual salary of all bachelor’s degrees. Many young professionals and freshmen tend to flock to the oil and gas industry early in the hopes of being successful upon graduation.

Despite the technological advances that renewable energy sources can bring, the use of fossil fuels is not coming to an end, nor the future for those working in the petroleum industry.

With the ever-changing global energy and major oil companies adding renewables to their portfolios, petroleum engineers will have the expertise that will be transferred to such renewable technologies such as solar systems, offshore wind farms and capture and harvesting. carbon storage.

Q. You found several jobs and lost some.

Near college graduation in December 2017, the O&G job market was tough after the crash from $ 100 / bbl to $ 50 / bbl in 2014. I believe out of the 100+ petroleum engineering students, only about 20 % of them found an O&G job. I was fortunate not to have much time to find a job until I graduated.

I was hired by America’s leading O&G service company, Halliburton. I was excited, but my career goal at the time was to work with an upstream O&G operator. During my time with Halliburton as a Field Engineer in Eagle Ford, I continued to seek positions with an Operator.

Almost a year passed in the Halliburton Field Engineering Rotation Program and I was finally able to get hired with the Parsley Energy production group. I spent 2.5 years at Parsley Energy before we were acquired by Pioneer Natural Resources

in February 2021. Months before the acquisition date, I started looking for another O&G opportunity.

Two weeks before the acquisition, I was hired as a contractor in New Mexico, working on a 14/7 hitch schedule, overseeing a series of six wells that needed to be completed.

Q. What have you learned about life from job changes?

Intermittent retirement, severance pay, possibility of finding another job if you want, more time to travel, take a step back to decide on the career path you want to take in the long term, make new friends, work on new new hobbies and spending more time with family.

No one nearing retirement ever says, “Dude, I wish I could have worked more, traveled less, and spent less time at home.” One year of severance pay gives you the ability to do so without the added stress of paying the bills.

My severance package allowed me to invest in real estate and buy a short-term rental in downtown Austin.

I rented my house in Austin, TX and spent a lot of time this year in hotels, on planes, on vacation, couch surfing, interviewing, living in a suitcase, etc. It was very difficult and exhausting at times, but it was my personal choice and the price to pay to leave Austin for a mini retreat.

Q. What advice do you have for staying in a job?

If you want longevity in the O&G industry, I recommend that you work for a larger upstream operator such as ExxonMobil, Chevron, bp, etc. which is not likely to be taken over by a larger company. Or intermediary companies like Kinder Morgan

, or downstream companies like Valero. Or government jobs such as the Railroad Commission in the Texas capital.

Stay away from service companies that revolve around drilling, hydraulic fracturing and well completion as they are hit hardest during industry downturns.

On the other hand, I like working for small private companies that have the potential to be taken over. As long as you have equity or the business offers substantial severance pay, this is a great compromise for a single person with no family.

Q. How do you search and find a new job?

To be able to find a job in the toughest markets, you need to acquire a PhD in Perseverance and Networking. You can be the brightest petroleum engineer in the industry, but without persistence and the ability to communicate with people, you don’t stand a chance. I have applied, emailed, and made more phone calls this year than most people in their careers. Getting noticed from an online app is a huge challenge.

Over the years, I have developed a five step application process that is simple but very effective.

1. Find the company and position you want to interview through LinkedIn, Indeed, company website, etc.

2. Locate people in the company through LinkedIn who are in the human resources department or who are executives.

3. Connect with the rep, get their name and send them a short note through LinkedIn.

4. Locate the company email and address through Google

find and send the HR team and executives a direct email with your CV.

5. Call their head office regarding the position you want and follow up on your previous email.

Applying online is usually the last thing I do if I do. Go straight to the source and persevere.

Q. What do you hope future bosses will enjoy from your work?

I believe that my greatest attribute of a team is being able to orchestrate great projects and optimize the processes that make the difference and make money for the future success of the company. I don’t like monotonous tasks that don’t make money or make a difference. Hope they appreciate the fact that I am not only a graduate engineer or overly educated paper pusher but also a creative mind and a businessman who takes calculated risks.

Q. What are your short and long term career goals?

In the short term (

Longer term (10+ years), I would like to be an executive or board member of an O & G / Energy company making important financial decisions. Towards retirement, I saw myself becoming a professor or dean at a leading university.

Q. How do you see the future of petroleum engineering, given the climate snowball?

I think we will see an increase in demand for petroleum engineering students in the short term, as a result of all the recent layoffs, fewer PE students, and many people switching industries. That being said, oil and gas companies are turning to renewables and investing capital in artificial intelligence for drilling and production operations. European examples are bp, TotalEnergies and Shell. US-based companies include ExxonMobil, Occidental, and Chevron.

With many of the world’s largest oil and gas companies acquiring and implementing renewables to expand their portfolios, SEs also need to broaden their knowledge of renewables. A PE with a good understanding of solar systems, offshore wind farms and carbon capture and storage will be in a stronger position as renewables continue to rise.

To quote: “No future is without change and no future comes with a guarantee. “

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