What's Ahead

Earning Job and Career Security

Think of all the benefits a job in the oil and gas industry gives you: excellent pay and benefits, the chance to work on challenging projects and see some really exciting places around the world, and maybe even flexible work hours.

But what about job security?

Arguably, job security is the ultimate benefit. After all, how great are salary and challenging projects if you work in constant fear they could disappear from one day to the next? This is the idea behind being a tenured professor at a university: Not having to worry about losing their jobs, university professors who have earned tenure have the freedom to focus their energy on teaching and research.

Of course, while academia and business have ties to each other, they are entirely different operating environments. Certainly, the market is good now for young professionals in oil and gas because energy prices are high and the level of skill required to bring this energy to the market is extremely high. But can anyone really count on something similar to tenure in oil and gas—or really in any other industry?

In today’s business world—in which seemingly nothing matters more than how much a stock price moves from quarter to quarter; in which technology enables work to be done from anywhere, by anyone with an Internet connection; and with an energy mix that is broadening to include other options besides oil and gas—can we as young professionals in the oil and gas industry be assured a measure of security, not only in our day-to-day jobs but also in our long-term careers?

Indeed, having a job is one thing, but having a career is completely another. And, speaking as a young professional with decades left in my working life, despite the many ways I can contribute to the industry right now, I want to know I can keep contributing over the next few decades.

If you look at it another way, “career security” not only means you are sure your current employer will keep you on its staff, but also that you feel “secure” enough about your job prospects to leave your current position for another one. This constant “churn” in the market is healthy, as it allows for the introduction of fresh ideas into companies.

In this issue, we take a good look at the topics of job security and career security in our industry, with articles from industry leaders addressing their own careers, as well as views on the oil and gas industry’s long-term prospects for those taking the first steps along their own career paths.

While I may not have as much experience as some of these professionals, if there is one thing I have learned since university, it’s this: Career and job security come as much from you as they do from those who pay for your services.

When you hire a contractor to do work on your home, do you keep paying them after they are finished, just to hang around? Of course not: You agree on what has to be done, a price for that work, and an estimated time of completion. Once that contract has been fulfilled, there is really no reason to keep the contractor around or ask them back—unless they have done a great job and you feel confident they can continue to improve your home.

Going back to my comparison between academia and industry, when I talked about university professors, notice that I wrote tenure has to be earned. Only a select few from a pool of many qualified academic candidates will achieve tenure.

In my mind, job security is not a passive, one-way benefit bestowed on you. It is always up to you to build your skills and add value to your organization; ideally, you would like your employer to see you as indispensable, and others within the industry to see you as a future valued contributor to their own organization. That kind of recognition only comes through hard work and dedication on your part.

One such way to build your skills and reputation within the oil and gas industry is to volunteer with the Society of Petroleum Engineers, and with TWA in particular (if you’ll excuse my bias). When I sent in a simple letter to the TWA editor-in-chief nearly 5 years ago, I had no idea that my involvement with this magazine would go as far as it has.

In that 5-year timespan, I’ve not only made some great friends around the world who can also serve as industry contacts, but I’ve also gained levels of responsibility which in some ways are even greater than those I have earned at work. My own job security comes from the respect I have earned and the results I have delivered on the job, and I owe a great deal of my abilities and skills to my time at TWA.

If you, too, are interested in developing your skills by volunteering for the premier magazine for oil and gas young professionals, please drop us a line using the information on page 36 (where you’ll also find “Your Best Shot”).

If TWA doesn’t strike your fancy, there are many other opportunities within SPE for you to volunteer, build your skill set, and ultimately earn job and career security.


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