More for students at PETEX 2010
This year's PETEX conference and exhibition, held in London November 23-25, had more for students than ever before. This was part of an overall increase in the PESGB's efforts to attract the next generation of geoscientists and engineers into our industry. In addition, questionnaire responses after PETEX2008 showed that exhibitors were keen to support more student activities at the show.
The PESGB worked with Working Smart to create a process for students, organised via their university faculties, to pre-register for the conference at a special subsidised rate. 270 students attended through this system, of which more than 160 registered their qualifications, skills, proficiencies and career expectations at the graduate-smart.com website, enabling potential employers to find job-seekers matching their needs. In addition to these 270, many other students were at the show, several presenting technical papers.
The Graduate Career Centre was extremely busy. This area, dedicated to graduate recruitment, provided booth space for oil and service company exhibitors, a reception area, 2 interview rooms and a networking area. Sponsors included Afren, CGGVeritas, ExxonMobil, ffa, GDF-Suez, Hess and PGS. “It's been fabulous,” said Karen Reid, CGGVeritas. “I've been run off my feet. We have met with about 30 candidates in interview rooms, and spoken informally to hundreds more. The pre-screening process has been very useful in prioritizing people to talk to”.
“Although my company visits a lot of universities, this has given us an opportunity to meet students who didn't make it to our visits or are at other universities,” said
Catherine Brealey, Hess. “We have directed a lot of good people to our careers web site”.
The Graduate Lunch on the Wednesday was very well attended, and in addition to informal networking with industry representatives, students were given a series of short presentations. Henry Allen, Senergy, and 2010 PESGB President, welcomed students, and thanked the sponsors ExxonMobil, GdF Suez, Hess, PGS, and Working Smart. He expressed the hope that attendees would get a feel for the fun that we have in our industry. James Thompson of the PESGB Young Professionals explained new mentoring services being developed by the PESGB to encourage and enable knowledge transfer. Deirdre O'Donnell, Managing Director of Working Smart suggested that students would probably see a lot of grey (or dyed) hair at the conference, meaning that a lot of older professionals will soon be leaving the industry. Previous economic downturns saw big drops in graduate intake, but today many companies are more forward-looking, and young skilled people are urgently needed. She invited attendees to make the most of this opportunity to meet with future employees. Geoffrey Bent, Hess, told students of his experience when looking for work after a 4-year Earth Sciences course at Durham. He soon found that postgraduate qualifications would make him much more employable, and encouraged undergraduates to find out about the many excellent courses available. After achieving a Masters in Petroleum Geoscience at Imperial, Bent joined Hess's training programme and has since worked on projects all over the world. Duncan Bruce, Chief Geologist, GdF Suez, explained how his company is expanding its E&P activities in the North Sea and West of Shetland, and has recently started a graduate training programme. It also sponsors courses and MSc projects. “It's a fun industry, and has loads of opportunities,” he said. “I suggest you avoid making enemies, as your Technical Assistant today could be your boss tomorrow!” The last speaker was David Nicholson, HR Manager, PGS. He described his company and the levels of qualification expected for various types of job, including data processing, reservoir studies, and research. He thanked the organisers, saying that PGS had been very well looked after in the Graduate Career Centre.
“Our students clearly considered it worth getting up at 5 this morning,” said Roger Clark, Geophysics Lecturer, University of Leeds. “With 54 coming, we overfilled the coach and some had to take the train. The faculty also considers it important, even though it stretches our already busy timetable. Many have had job interviews, and it provides an excellent opportunity for them to network with future employers and find MSc projects.
More than half our students do these in companies during summer internships”.
“There are a lot of companies here that we have never heard of,” said Anna Burdzanowska, who is studying a BSc/Msci undergraduate Masters course at Birmingham. “It's good to know what job opportunities there are out there, and how to contact them for interview”
“It's fantastic that the PESGB is supporting students so well and has attracted so many to the event,” said Helmut Jacubowicz, PGS Professor of Petroleum Geophysics at Imperial.
“This is my first ever conference,” said Matthew Haarhoff, studying for a Masters in Petroleum Geoscience at Royal Holloway, London. “I've been to some very interesting technical papers and will be visiting companies here to find out what they do, what skills they need, and how I could fit in.”
The Petroleum Geoscience Research Collaboration Showcase, co-hosted by the Geological Society Petroleum Group and the AAPG, also proved very successful. This was the first time it has been integrated with PETEX. It provided a venue for bright young academics and their industry sponsors to present their collaborative research into topical exploration and production (E&P) issues. “We have 9 students presenting,”
said Dougal Ferram, lecturer in Geology at Durham University. “Doing it here at PETEX is much better. It provides presenters with more incentive, and is getting good attendance and interest, including the posters”.