We traveled to Texas to hear what Oil & Gas and Energy companies look for in candidates


You asked we listened!

We know you have expressed interest in working in Oil & Gas, and the Energy space, so at the beginning of August, I traveled to Texas to meet with employers and alumni in the field to learn more about how Columbia students can connect with opportunities in the Houston area. 


I met with hiring managers, recruiters, and Columbia alumni to learn about hiring trends and ways to break into the industry. The main takeaway was that employers in the Houston area may not travel to Columbia’s campus for recruitment, so you may have to connect with them in different ways.

Check out some of the lessons I drilled down to discover about how to connect with employers and stand out as an applicant. 

ConocoPhillips headquarters

5 ways to succeed when breaking into Oil & Gas and the Energy Sector 

1.) Get field experience. 

Any experience is important!

When I met with a Production Engineer from Sheridan Production Company, he emphasized the importance of field experience. As an undergraduate, one summer he worked on an oil rig for six weeks. This allowed him to see the inner workings of the rig and how it functioned on a day-to-day basis. He said that this experience has been invaluable in his current role as an engineer.

2.) Network and connect with Columbia alumni.

During my meetings with alumni from several companies, including ConocoPhillips, CGG, Repsol, all were eager and open to speaking with Columbia students.

They all mentioned that networking was an essential part of their job search.

You can start meeting with hiring managers and alumni at Columbia — check out a list of upcoming events including the Engineering Career Fair and Tech Connect!

 3.) Join professional associations and attend conferences.

Whether through student groups on campus, such as National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) and Society of Women Engineers (SWE), or professional associations like the Society of Petroleum Engineers or the American Chemical Society, alumni discussed ways they were able to connect with their current companies through attending national and regional conferences.

Kareem Stanely, SEAS ‘17, met ExxonMobil at the NSBE National Convention. Through this connection, he was able to intern with Exxon for two summers and eventually got a full-time position as an Integrity Engineer.

Kareem Stanley (SEAS '17)
Kareem Stanley (SEAS ‘17)

4.) Show an interest in oil, gas and/or energy in your application.

You may be asking, how can I do this?

Recruiters and alumni mentioned including specific classes that align with the industry on your resume or highlighting student group membership, leadership roles, or any work experience that aligns with the field. For example, working at a manufacturing plant or research in a lab at Columbia.


5.) Check out the abundance of startup companies in Houston.

Before going to Houston, I had no idea there was such a growing startup community!

Companies such as Chevron are working with startups across the country through their Catalyst Program as a way to promote innovation in the Houston area, specifically in the oil and gas industry. 

The Employer and Alumni Relations team will continue to take employer outreach trips and will be sharing insights with you as they come. Keep an eye out for more in the In the Know blog.

Insider Info: Get Behind the Scenes with Employers

Check out our Columbia-exclusive Employer Insider Info portal to stay informed about how we’re connecting with employers in various industries across the country!