What I Would Tell My 25 Year Old Self
For nearly eight years, I have been in the Oil & Gas industry, the majority of that in Measurement While Drilling. Like probably a number of engineers and technical experts that work in MWD, I did not seek out this field, hell, I didn’t even know it existed. My degrees in math have allowed me to work in engineering roles, project management, data analytics, and more. Soon, I will be heading off to law school to pursue a career in patent and intellectual property law. I have a unique vantage point on the O&G industry.
When asked to write this post, I considered what would have helped me most to hear if I were still in school, or were just starting my career in O&G. That’s what I would like to discuss today.
1. Communication Skills
I am fortunate in that while I am a bit of a “math geek”, I am able to communicate effectively. In technical fields, finding persons who are able to speak to the engineers, and turn around and explain that information to the operations team can be challenging. Those two groups don’t always understand each other. So, I have become something of an intermediary when needed. The gap between ‘great developer’ and ‘great operations manager’ can be vast. Bridging this gap is a marketable skill, a resume builder. Practice this skill as it can take you far.
2. Make Mistakes
BE WRONG. This is an issue that everyone deals with at multiple points in their career. It is okay to be wrong. You can learn a lot by trying something and failing and learning how to do it properly. When coming out of school, and into the “real world”, I struggled with this. “I can’t fail at anything!!!” Perhaps it was an artifact of studying mathematics and not engineering. However, if you remember anything, remember this: you do NOT learn everything in college. You do not learn anywhere near everything in college. Start your career with an insatiable hunger to learn everything you can from your team and mentors, and you will go far. If your company does not accept mistakes, that is not where you should be!
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Change Your Mind
My goal for years was to be a data analyst. Now, I am starting law school this autumn to study IP and patent law. Take risks! Why continue to do something that does not make you happy? It is your career, your life, and the only one that you will ultimately answer to is yourself. Do not let yourself go along to get along, and look back after the years thinking, “I wish I would have…” Things are not always as they appear from the outside. If you get started in any industry, and find a niche that looks interesting to you, ask your supervisor about it, and see if there is any way that you can learn more about said niche while fulfilling your current responsibilities. I asked that of my current company and was encouraged to pursue it.
It has been said that if you don’t ask, the answer is always ‘no’. So, given that, what do you want to do with your life? Only you can live it.
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