1000 E University Ave
Dept. 3226, Bureau of Mines
Laramie, WY 82071
Phone: (307) 766-2379
Fax: (307) 766-6729
Each year, Catherine Campbell circles the dates on her calendar.
So do Laura Murray and Mark Olson.
They know better than to miss the Rocky Mountain Rendezvous (RMR), a four-day fair hosted by the University of Wyoming and sponsored by the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) that has evolved into one of the petroleum industry's major recruiting events.
"The Rendezvous is considered a can't-miss event for our company," says Campbell, a development geologist for Encana Oil and Gas' North Piceance Team in Colorado and one of the company's recruiters. "I think other companies feel the same way, because I see a lot of the same recruiters year after year."
"We rely on the Rendezvous," adds Murray, who will recruit for Chevron for the sixth consecutive year. "We love coming to Wyoming every year."
From humble beginnings -- Randi Martinsen, a lecturer in the UW Department of Geology and Geophysics and the event's coordinator, had to convince the AAPG to offer its support -- the Rendezvous is close to outgrowing its home of the past 10 years inside the Wyoming Union and rivals the AAPG's main recruiting showcase in Houston, Texas.
One year after attracting a record 225 students from across the United States -- including dozens of UW students seeking to enhance their interview skills and potentially land internships or full-time jobs -- the RMR is preparing for a similar turnout at this year's event, Sept. 30-Oct. 3.
The aspiring geoscientists will have opportunities to meet with recruiters from some 25 companies. The who's-who list, in addition to Chevron and Encana, includes Anadarko, BP, ConocoPhillips, Devon Energy, ExxonMobil and Shell.
"We have hired students each of the three years I have recruited at the RMR and they have been some of our top recruits and developed into full-time employees," says Olson, a UW graduate (B.S., '95; M.S., '99, both in geology) who works as a geologist for ConocoPhillips' Gulf of Mexico Regional Team. "Randi was my thesis adviser so I'm a little partial but she has been a critical link between the oil and gas industry and UW.
"She also has been a great champion in bringing and keeping the RMR in Wyoming. I can tell you that other universities in the region would love to get the exposure of an event like the RMR."
From the beginning, Martinsen believed an AAPG job fair in Wyoming made as much sense as, well, drilling for oil in Wyoming. But she had to do some convincing.
"When I first went to AAPG with the idea, they weren't very enthused about it," Martinsen recalls with a laugh. "They said, ‘No, we've got this one in Houston and that's enough.'"
She laughs again and adds, "Finally, I said, ‘No, I'm going to do this!'"
Not even Martinsen could have envisioned the Rendezvous' transformation over the years. What began largely as a job fair has turned into a four-day event that includes short courses, workshops, presentations, a poster session and field trips in addition to the formal interview sessions.
Then there are the networking possibilities.
UW graduate student Lynsey Spaeth attended the RMR last year for the first time, gaining experience during the interview process and making connections with recruiters while helping them set up their booths.
"It's about getting your name out there and beginning to network," she says. "The experience is invaluable. An internship isn't always the end goal."
She cracks a smile and adds, "But an internship is really awesome if you can get one."
This year's RMR will be all about networking for Chris Christofferson, a UW graduate student who recently was hired by Cabot Oil & Gas, another of the Rendezvous' regulars. His full-time employment, which followed an internship with Cabot, was born from the RMR.
"Since I just completed an internship in industry, I'm not too stressed about the RMR this year. But, in previous years, it was very nerve-wracking, especially during my first few interviews," Christofferson says. "Even if you don't get any offers, it's a very fun event and the experience of interviewing is valuable no matter where you are in your career.
"I am personally going to use the RMR as an opportunity to network this year," he says. "Cabot will be attending this year, like always, and I encourage students to come by the booth and learn about the company."
Recruiters also benefit from the Rendezvous' format, which allows for interaction with students in more informal ways, such as on the bus or at the lunch table.
One year on a field trip, Chevron's Murray met Heather Henry, who had trekked to Laramie from Montana for the RMR. She was instantly impressed, not only with Henry's depth of knowledge but her enthusiasm.
"She was just so into rocks!" recalls Murray.
That experience -- on a bus en route to an oil rig -- played a greater role in Chevron's decision to extend a job offer than did Henry's formal interview, says Murray.
This year, Henry will be back at the Rendezvous -- as a recruiter.
"I can think of eight or nine people off the top of my head who we've hired from Wyoming," says Murray. She is one of them, a 1998 UW graduate in geophysics. "One has been here 35 years and is about to retire, so that tells you we've been going there and getting geophysicists for quite some time."
Campbell also launched her career at the Rendezvous. She landed an internship with BP in 2005, and then caught Encana's attention at the RMR a few years later.
This will be Campbell's third trip to the Rendezvous as a recruiter.
"We look forward to it every year," says Campbell, who earned her master's in geology from UW in 2007. "It's a great opportunity for us, because it's at the University of Wyoming and Wyoming is one of the states where we have our biggest operations. In the case of UW students, we're able to interview and potentially hire students who already understand the geology of Wyoming and that's especially valuable to us."
Ten years after struggling to establish the RMR, Martinsen has a new struggle: Finding space for everybody under one roof. The Rendezvous' student turnout has quadrupled and industry participation doubled since about 60 students and 10 or 12 companies showed up for the first event.
"If this continues to get bigger, we're going to have to expand beyond the Union," she says.
Whatever it takes, Martinsen remains determined to bring together students and industry.
"It's really energizing to see these young students enthusiastic, eager and just so excited about their career opportunities. I get thank-you emails for weeks after the event, telling me how much they enjoyed it and what it meant to them," Martinsen says. "But it means a lot to me, too.
"Geology's fun. And petroleum geology is just so much fun. It's like detective work looking for that darn oil and gas," she says. "I had a great career. I loved my job (in industry) and I was always thinking, ‘I can't believe they're paying me to do this!' So, it's truly enjoyable for me to try to link up students to jobs, because I want them to have fun, too."
Learn more about the Rocky Mountain Rendezvous