A Tulane alumnus and Chevron employee recently sat down for coffee with me and gave me some very valuable insights on how to pursue a job in big oil companies. I want to pass along these helpful tips to all of you in our Energy programs or otherwise considering a career in oil & gas. These tips apply just as well to a job search in virtually any industry, in my opinion.
1) Don’t look for your dream job; look for the job you can get
As we in the CMC are always saying, your career will be a winding path. Right now, you’re identifying the starting point. To get a job at a big oil company, our alum in the field says don’t seek out whatever your ‘dream job’ might be. Instead, apply for any job that you are qualified for. Getting the proverbial foot in the door is the first step to a fulfilling career with a big oil company. At Chevron in particular, your job assignment will change every 3 – 5 years. So you have to start somewhere. Look at the positions you may not think you want as a means of getting to the ones you do.
2) Prove yourself in the first five years
The critical step after landing a foot in the door is to outperform and overachieve, so that your management and others in the company will recognize you and help you along the path to the ‘dream job.’ Excel at every role you have the chance to work in. Big oil companies have countless divisions and roles within those divisions. Explore your options, and always keep in mind that consideration and working well with others go a long way in how you are regarded along your career path.
3) Identify Tulane alumni in the company
Do a little research and find any Tulane alumni who may be in the ranks of the company you are applying to. In some cases the CMC can help you with this, but even if we can’t, it’s an important networking tactic that has been a big help to many of our grads who now have great jobs. Tulane is unfortunately not a target school for most big oil companies (who have been returning to the same programs at the same schools located very near their headquarters with the same great recruiting results for decades). So your best champion is someone within the ranks of the company who has a Tulane degree and is already making a good name for Tulane among their peers. Your career counselor in the CMC can provide specific feedback and direction on how best to go about contacting these folks, with professionalism and respect for their busy work schedules.
4) Think about the best avenues into recruiting at companies that don’t recruit at Tulane, such as:
- The company Web site; more and more companies are using their web sites as their central, must-use, do-not-pass-go recruiting portal and driving ALL applicants there. Why not you? You may feel your resume is going to get lost in the void, but we have some compelling success stories of grads who have gotten jobs through company web sites.
- MBA leadership development programs or undergraduate rotational programs; also accessible through the Web site and/or the diversity MBA conferences, these programs are a spectacular start to a successful career, and many are open to candidates from non-target schools; if your work experience and qualifications are a match, apply!
- Professional association recruiting; industry groups often have job boards on their web sites, and they are also great networking resources in general, so use them. A google search of professional associations in the energy industry, narrowed by relevance to your job search and geographic region, is a great place to start. Explore the discounted options for student membership or student participation in monthly networking events hosted by the local chapter, and get involved.