Petroleum Academy students drill deeper into oil and gas career possibilities


Students Alejandro Venegas and Shannon Rouhana, who completed their externships with Southwestern Energy, pose with Damien Friend, the company’s chief geologist, at the awards banquet.

The next generation of America’s oil and natural gas leaders took its first eager steps toward securing successful careers in the energy industry, when a group of 55 rising seniors and recent graduates from the Petroleum Academies at Milby, Westside, and Young Women’s College Preparatory Academy (YWCPA) participated in a two-week, job-shadowing opportunity at various Houston petroleum exploration, production, and service companies.

The Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) and the Petroleum Equipment & Services Association (PESA) Student Externship Program began in the summer of 2010 to provide a one-of-a-kind experience for future engineering and geosciences students enrolled in the IPAA/PESA Petroleum Academies, and to date, 394 externs have participated.

This summer, the following Houston-area energy companies hosted students: Cameron, Cobalt International Energy, Core Laboratories, Distribution NOW, FMC Technologies, Halliburton, Newfield Exploration, Occidental Petroleum, Schlumberger, Shell, Southwestern Energy, and W&T Offshore. Five students also took part in the Marathon Oil Co-Op program, which allows participants to obtain experience throughout the summer and school year. Collectively, the group received $55,000 in scholarships for college this year.

In preparation for the extern experience, students had to go through rigorous professional development training during the 2014–15 school year, which included workshops on resume-writing, professional interviews, and business etiquette, as well as a two-day Dale Carnegie training at Houston Community College’s Alief Campus.

“I speak for myself as well as my colleagues when I say that working at FMC Technologies not only expanded our knowledge about engineering but also narrowed down our choices on which engineering discipline we will study once we get to college,” said Paige Jefferson, a 2015 graduate of YWCPA. “Our experience was tremendously beneficial to our future, and we will take with us every lesson learned, every network skill adopted, and every conversation we have had. We thank IPAA, PESA, and FMC Technologies for this wonderful externship.”

The IPAA and PESA have provided more than $104,000 in scholarships to students in 2015 —$71,000 for externships in Houston and Fort Worth, $14,000 for members of the Class of 2015, and $19,000 for carryover scholarship awards.