You know the story: “kids these days, they are SOOOO lazy. All they want to do is tweet and overshare; if they’d actually do some real work they’d get somewhere and they could stop complaining about how the world is so cruel to them!”.
Granted, there probably are young people just like that out there (watch pretty much any reality show on tv for examples), but you just can’t generalize, and that was made very apparent to me after a meeting I had last week with two aspiring young oil & gas professionals.
I receive a lot of email, from around the world. I always try my best to reply, and usually that’s the end of the exchange. Occasionally though, I receive an especially thought-provoking, well thought-out question, then an equally great response to my answer, and so on and so forth.
It doesn’t happen with everyone, but there are a few readers with whom I’d say I’ve built up a very good, friendly relationship, and one of those readers happens to be from South Africa.
About a year and a half ago, he sent me an email asking how he could make it into the offshore sector from his home country, and from there we kept on talking.
Imagine my surprise when he said he was coming to Houston to attend the NAPE conference this past week!
Here’s the thing though: he wasn’t coming as part of company training, where he would be reimbursed for his trip. Rather, he and his classmate just came here by themselves, hoping to make connections and hopefully land an offshore job.
Let that sink in: no guarantee of anything, an expensive plane ticket, and a lot of effort going around hustling…and a lot of perseverance, as this was a year and a half after that original email asking how to find a job offshore!
How many people would do that, let alone those “entitled” Millenials?
I walked away from our get-together seriously inspired: these two recent graduates demonstrate the behaviors anyone looking for a change of career should exhibit.
The first step is to find out exactly what it is you want (in their case, a job offshore), and work backwards. The way there can (and probably will) change, but the goal must be clear, so that there is no chance of you losing focus of what you want.
With the goal set, follow the example of my two friends and do the following:
Find a partner
It’s hard to find someone as driven with the same goals as you, but if you can find that person, linking up can propel you far further than if you’d gone it alone.
You can motivate each other after a setback, you can come up with new ideas to put yourself out there, and you can celebrate together when things go well.
My two South African friends had that partnership with each other, and it was awesome to see.
Hustle, hustle, hustle…with a plan
It would be great if we could just imagine our wildest dreams, and have them come into being. Of course, it doesn’t happen that way, and while hard work doesn’t guarantee you’ll reach your goals, no-one that ever reached their goals didn’t work hard.
I’ve put in a fair amount of hours myself, but spending thousands on a plane ticket and hotel, knocking on recruiters’ doors, making connections in an environment I’ve never been to before?
That takes hard work, and a realization that nothing comes on the first try: you have to hustle.
Take a long term view
Despite all the concern about low oil prices, I still believe strongly that the oil & gas industry is great for someone looking to have a rewarding career.
The hustle I mentioned above requires constant effort and sustained work: the person that steps up effort or throttles back according to the market will never get ahead!
When you find yourself facing a setback, take a deep breath, think about the “big picture”, imagine how good you’ll feel when you get what you’re after, and keep going.
Don’t take a risk for the sake of it, but don’t be afraid to make the leap either
During our coffee meeting, I heard from these two friends that the plan in the next few months was to go their separate ways to countries where they thought the industry was active, and they had better chances of finding work than in South Africa.
One was going to head to Dubai (or generally the Middle East), and the other one would head to Canada.
The courage in making that decision and following through is commendable. Granted, you don’t want to make a leap just because of some perception that that’s what all successful people have done, but if you’ve made a plan, worked hard at something, and have hope that things will be better on other side, at some point you just have to take a deep breath and go for it.
Out of respect for their privacy (one is a brand new graduate but the other is employed), I’ll refrain from publishing their names, but if this is the kind of initiative you’re looking for in new recruits, drop me a line and I’ll pass on their information!
David Vaucher is an upstream oil & gas industry thought leader and a Director with the global management consulting firm Alvarez & Marsal. He is passionate about helping his clients in the oil & gas industry take action and drive change in their internal processes and organizational structures. You can receive more of his thoughts and commentary on Twitter @DavidAVaucher