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Oil and Gas Industry - Seeking Advice

  1. Aug 1, 2012 #1


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    I am coming close (~1.5 years remaining) to finishing my undergraduate degrees (chemical/process engineering and finance), and have pretty much decided that I will work in the energy industry. I live in Australia, so there are definitely plenty of opportunities at the moment for me to find work. I have built myself a fairly strong grounding (scholarships, awards, internship, extra curricular activities etc.) so if all goes well, I feel that I can be somewhat selective in who I work for.

    The issue I am facing at the moment is deciding which company I would like to work for. I have just about decided that I would like to work for a larger company (Shell, Exxon, ConocoPhillips, Chevron etc.), however I am having trouble deciding which one I would ultimately choose if I had the choice.

    I realise that this is something that only I can make the final judgement on, however I would very much appreciate any input, especially from people who currently or have previously worked in the oil and gas industry. What advice would you give to somebody making a choice like this? What has your experience been with the companies mentioned above?

    Any input is much appreciated!

    P.S. Just to be clear, I have not actually received any offers yet, however I will be applying for another 3-month internship over the coming holiday period, and then I will apply for graduate positions towards the start of next year.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 1, 2012 #2
    You may be in for a rude shock. Job hunting is tough, and I wouldn't start thinking about what company you want to work for, until you actually get several serious job offers.

    As far as my policy. As long as the company isn't doing anything dishonest or illegal, then if they give me money, I'll consider them.

    1) It's sort of pointless to think about it until you actually have a choice. You probably won't.

    2) Big companies are these huge mix of diverse groups. It matters less the name of the company, than who specifically your boss and coworkers are. I've been in some big companies, and I've looked at some other part of the company, and then I thank my lucky stars I don't work for that part.

    1) Don't make a choice until you have a choice.

    If you have several job offers, then it's about the people that you will be spending your time with.
  4. Aug 1, 2012 #3


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    Thanks for the reply twofish.

    I appreciate this advice, and I don't want to come across as too complacent as I do realise that there are a limited number of jobs and plenty of other candidates who are just as qualified (and some more so) as me, however I guess the main motivation for me creating this thread is that I have a few more weeks to finish submitting internship applications, and I know that a lot of the internships can lead to offers for graduate positions (I have observed this with a significant number of students who graduated at the end of last year). It may be unlikely that I get more than one or two offers, and hence the decision may not even materialise, however it is a possibility, and something that I just want to have thought about ahead of time.

    As for your point regarding the people who I will be working with, I agree completely! It would be nice if it was something I had more control over, however I guess it is one of those things that I will just have to accept and deal with. I don't think it is something I can really get an idea of until I actually start in a job. To be honest I am not sure exactly what kind of advice I am looking for here. If your advice is to revisit the issue at a later stage should the offers actually appear on the table, then I am happy to take that advice on board.
  5. Aug 2, 2012 #4
    The industrial hiring system works very differently than the college admissions system which reduces the chances that you will get multiple offers.

    If a university has N seats, they can send out say 3*N admissions letters, since they know that people are applying for multiple spots, and from experience they know that than say one-third of the people they accept will say yes. The reason they can do that is that they have N spots, and then end up with N+5 or N-5 students, it's not a big deal.

    Companies can't work this way. If you have N spots, and you end up with N+1 or N-1 filling those positions, it's a disaster. If you have money to hire N people, then you can't hire N+1 people.

    So what they do is if you have N spots, then they send out N - x letters. Once then get acceptances or rejections, then the send out letters to the next people in the queue.

    The result of this is that fewer letters go out. Now internships are somewhere in between university and professional hiring.

    Something to remember is that the process is designed to make sure that you have as little control as possible.

    There's also a sales and marketing issue. Suppose you look at company A and company B, and you decide that you really want to work at company B. Now you have an interview from company A. People are very good at detecting emotions, and so if you mentally you don't really want to work for company A, you are going to be giving off subtle, unconscious hints of that during the interview, and if the interviewer detects this, then you aren't getting the job.

    One other thing that makes industrial hiring different from academic student admissions, is that in academia, pretty much everything for admission is done via writing. When you write an application, you can easily self-censor yourself. When you are in a face to face interview, it's very hard to keep your unconscious motivations from "leaking out." If you really would prefer not to work at Company A, people are going to sense that.

    Something about interviews is that they are two way. You need to find out stuff about the company. They are looking for unconscious cues, and you need to learn to do the same thing.

    The type of process makes a difference. If you are going through a standard "college admissions" process for an internship, then you don't lose anything by thinking "I'd rather work for X." If its anything that involves an interactive interview, then you want to go into the interview thinking "Tell me all of the great stuff that is happening at company A!!!!" rather than "The only reason I'm here is because company B wouldn't accept me."

    Something to remember is that getting a job is more like dating than applying for college. If you go out on a date, and you are spending the evening thinking that you'd rather be with someone else, it's not going to end well.
  6. Aug 2, 2012 #5


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    By the time you get an interview, you have basically passed the technical qualifications phase of the screening process. You should assume the prospective employer is more interested in exploring your 'plays well with others' skills.
  7. Aug 2, 2012 #6


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    Perhaps, but my issue is that I don't really have a preference at this stage; I am still trying to figure out, for me, who is company A and who is company B. In the end though, I think I will talk to people from the companies to find out more about things such as the graduate development programs, locations etc., and this will at least give me somewhere to go from.

    Interview skills are something that I try to practice whenever I can. I (and I assume most other people) definitely find it to be the most daunting part of the application process. I haven't yet had an interview for anything that I truly did not want, however I have certainly had bad interview experiences; one in particular, related to your point about needing to find things out about the company (which I probably should have done a lot better beforehand). It definitely made me realise the importance of preparation for an interview :smile:
  8. Aug 2, 2012 #7


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    Yea this is definitely the impression that I got from the many HR representatives who have come to talk about their companies at my university.
  9. Aug 15, 2012 #8
    From the names of companies in your wishlist, it's not matter of who you want to work for, it's about who is willing to work with you.

    If you want good technical exposure with loads of cash as salary, your top targets should be the oil field services companies, they are the ones who pay good bucks and train their professionals well but at same time, buy your life for those bucks
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