Former interns give advice and share best practices for getting the most out of your oil and gas internships.
Historically, internships have been an essential part of job training which prepared students for careers in various industries. And today, with the competitive job market and distressed oil and gas industry, internships are even more vital to aspiring energy professionals.
Philip RowsellPhilip Rowsell, Assistant Surveyor, Lloyd’s RegisterAssistant Surveyor, Lloyd’s Register
Phoebe Heard, senior recruiter for Oceaneering International Inc., said her ideal internship candidate is someone who speaks well, is able to sell themselves and has some experience. At the same time, she understands that many interns simply don’t have experience yet.
“We’ve hired some fresh interns who had never completed an internship before,” Heard told Rigzone. “We want to see that you’ve started working in jobs related to the field you’re going into or been involved with student or campus organizations focused on the industry.”
Once candidates land the internship, Heard said she wants them to show leadership and initiative, be the person who is looking for more work rather than waiting on the work to come to them.
And those who are interested in landing a job in the energy space would benefit from participating in as many internships as possible.
Philip Rowsell approached his internship process in a similar fashion, having interned at three different companies. Rowsell, 28, is currently employed as an assistant surveyor for Lloyd’s Register’s energy compliance sector in Newfoundland. He previously interned with Lloyd’s Register and was hired on soon after.
“The more exposure you get to different companies, different ways of doing things and interacting with different people, the better,” Rowsell told Rigzone. “Each of the three companies I worked for were in completely different areas of the oil and gas industry. So when I’m talking to a client, I’ve either been in their shoes or am familiar with what their company does, so I can see things from their side a little better. If you pigeon hole yourself into one type of role, yes, you’ll learn a lot, but I really feel you need to get as much knowledge you can from everywhere.”
Acquiring knowledge is one thing, but different experiences are valuable too, whether good or bad.
“The biggest lesson I’ve learned through all my internships with every company is how to deal with people. There’s a lot of knowledge that you certainly need, but regardless of your position, you’re always going to have to deal with clients, people in your own office, etc.,” Rowsell said. “You have to learn how to interact with people in a positive way every time, regardless of their outlooks on methods.”
Noel Comerford, 22, has completed three four-month work terms (internships) with Lloyd’s Register and is currently hoping to land a full-time position with a company soon.
Comerford admits that he didn’t know what to expect during his first internship term.
“It’s the first time you’re ever taking your schooling and applying it to a particular field, so you’re kind of nervous,” he told Rigzone.
However, Comerford said fresh interns should not fear the nervous jitters, and instead embrace them.
“It’s a feeling that you need to embrace and I have a really good quote from one of my first work terms from my supervisor, who was the associate undergraduate dean,” he said. “He said ‘you’re going to be nervous your first time and that’s normal. You need to embrace that and it will help propel you forward.’ I’ve always remembered that and it’s helped me in every single one of my work terms to get past any difficulties I’ve had.”
In addition to embracing their nervousness, Comerford said it’s important for interns to show initiative.
“Search for answers yourself. That’s how you promote yourself as a really good worker,” he said. “It’s your actions that will make the impact.”
According to Rowsell, interns should also never shy away from asking questions.
“When I first started, especially with my first work term, I was really nervous. I didn’t ask a lot of questions and I didn’t take on too much because I was afraid of failing,” he said. “A lot of interns when they first start out feel if they ask questions, people are going to look down on them or think they’re incompetent in some way. That’s absolutely not true. Everyone has to start somewhere and most employers realize that, so their expectations of you tend to fall in the right levels.”
Both Rowsell and Comerford said one of the reasons they enjoyed their internship terms at Lloyd’s Register was because they weren’t given the dreaded “busy work” often dumped on interns – essentially tasks designed just to take up time, but don’t have much learning value.
Greg ArchbaldGreg Archbald, CEO, GreaseBookCEO, GreaseBook
Greg Archbald, founder and CEO of oil and gas tech company GreaseBook, said he was able to score a coveted internship at a highly sought-after exploration and production company his junior year of college.
“Four weeks into my internship, the company conducted a huge round of layoffs,” Archbald, 34, told Rigzone. “I’d be busy doing intern things – which were of quite little importance, really – secure and safe in my job, watching people in my department get called in and let go.”
He said the experience made quite an impression on him.
It’s important to “get those interns in the field,” Archbald said. “Scrap the desk work and get those interns as close to the action as possible – see and participate in a well as it’s being drilled or ride on a route with a pumper.”
Regardless of which specialty of oil and gas work an intern wants to pursue, having a grasp on the tangible workings of the field will propel them ahead of competitors, he added.
“Not only will the interns be excited to be out of the office, but for those interns who you decide to ultimately make offers for full-time work, their time in the field will pay dividends as they move up the ranks in the company,” Archbald said.