October 3, 2014 — Like many students from the University of Wyoming and other universities, Jacob Buettner was looking for a full-time job or internship in the oil and gas business.
Buettner, currently a master’s student majoring in geology at New Mexico State University who received his bachelor’s degree in geosciences from UW in 2013, interviewed with Apache and ExxonMobil at the 13th annual Rocky Mountain Rendezvous Geoscience Students and Employers (RMR) job fair Sept. 26-29. The event took place at UW’s Conference Center and Hilton Garden Inn.
“I’m looking for a full-time job in exploration of hydrocarbons. However, I am open to an internship to develop my current knowledge,” says Buettner, originally from Fort Laramie. “Exploration is looking at different data sets to infer where potential hydrocarbon resources could be in the subsurface. I want to help determine where the hydrocarbons actually lie.”
A record 461 students and 29 companies from across the nation participated in the job fair. One of five regional job fairs nationwide, the event was sponsored by the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) and the Society of Exploration Geophysicists. The UW Department of Geology and Geophysics and the School of Energy Resources co-hosted the event.
“A lot of recruiters that are here are alumni of the event,” says Randi Martinsen, a senior UW lecturer in geology and geophysics, and the event’s founder and coordinator. “They are very loyal and show support for this event. This is how many of them got their jobs.”
Martinsen, president of the AAPG, was impressed with the number of states and schools represented by the students seeking jobs.
“What we’re seeing are more students from other states -- Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee, Indiana, Illinois and California,” she says. “They’re hungry and want jobs.”
Looking for work
Students with UW ties were hungry, too.
“If I can, I’d like to get on an exploration geology team. Reservoir production would be my second pick,” says John Zupanic, currently a master’s student in geosciences at the University of Montana and a 2013 graduate of UW.
Zupanic, originally from McKinney, Texas, interviewed with Apache and ConocoPhillips. During his interview with ConocoPhillips, Zupanic described it as a “technical interview” in which data were presented to him and he had to create a profile. In addition, he was asked about a time in his life when he faced adversity and how he was able to overcome that.
Karen Aydinian, a UW master’s student majoring in structural geology, says she had five interviews at last year’s RMR, but did not land an internship. The Houston, Texas, native, who is a fracture specialist, was optimistic she would garner one this year.
“Full-time positions are hard to come by, but I’m looking for an internship,” says Aydinian, who interviewed with Apache, Chevron, Encana, ExxonMobil and Noble Energy. “There are not as many people in structural geology as in other geology disciplines. Right now, what I do is significant with all of the hydraulic fracturing occurring in North Dakota, Texas and Pennsylvania.”
Aydinian says she has had three previous internships, all secured through the RMR.
Charles Nye is another UW student returning for a second year of interviews at the RMR. The Laramie native expects to receive his master’s degree in geology in December before joining a company.
“Even with a master’s degree, I may accept an internship rather than a full-time job,” he says. “Many companies hire from their intern pool, which makes off-the-bat, full-time positions rare.”
Two of the jobs for which he applied require work using interdisciplinary skills. If he lands one of those jobs, Nye hopes to use his background in graphic design and computer science.
“This is a really great event,” he says.
Recruiters keep coming back
Recruiters with oil and gas companies say they continue to return to the RMR because of the well-qualified candidates they interview for jobs and internships.
“UW students have traditionally been very strong,” says Genevive Mathers, an exploration geologist with BP. “Because of the relationship between the school (UW) and industry, and the fact so much money from oil and gas tends to fund the school, UW students have an understanding of oil and gas, and have a pure love for geology.”
She adds UW students are refreshing to interview and are not typically polished with answers they think recruiters want to hear. Mathers herself received a master’s degree in geology from UW in 2009.
“If I had not come here (for school), I would not be in the oil and gas industry,” she says. “I don’t know what I would be doing.”
Ben Schupack, another BP geologist, served as a company recruiter for the second consecutive year.
“We are looking for highly motivated, self-starting students who have a background in geology and geophysics,” Schupack says. “I am looking for someone I would like to work with on a daily basis -- someone who can effectively communicate; is motivated; can work together on an interdisciplinary team; and can synthesize data into concise thoughts.”
Mark Olson, manager, sedimentology and stratigraphy, geological technology and subsurface technology for Conoco Phillips, says his company is offering three types of internships: exploration, development and technology.
“Why we like UW students is their fundamentals of geology,” says Olson, who received his bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in geology, both from UW. “We can teach them computers and software programs. We can’t teach them rocks. That’s why we like coming up here. This area has rocks exposed. It’s a natural lab students can learn from. You don’t learn geology from a book.”
Conoco Phillips interviews students from out-of-state universities during the RMR and then spends a couple of days on campus to interview UW students.
The RMR event included a vendor expo; on-site job interviews; receptions; short courses; student poster presentations that included cash prizes; and field trips that included an Anadarko oil rig tour and a walking tour of the Nash Fork formation in the Medicine Bow Mountains.
Photo: John Zupanic, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in geosciences from UW in 2013, is interviewed by Emily Pherson, a human resources generalist with Apache Corp., at the recent Rocky Mountain Rendezvous. (UW Photo)