Young Professionals in Energy: New Networking in a Legacy Industry

It’s called “The Big Crew Change,” and it makes sense we’re talking about it so much, because it sure sounds like doomsday is upon us. The industry’s natural turnover is about to be complicated by an abnormally high number of potential retirees, amongst them some crucial decision-makers. This has many people closely watching the industry, and for young job seekers, looking for opportunity.

The young energy professionals entering the industry bring a vastly different set of abilities and familiarities than the generation that is leaving. From calculators to smart phones and ledgers to laptops, this incoming crew has a new way to do things. But the latest crop of young job seekers has one thing very much in common with their retiring counterparts. Aiding them in their job hunt is a skill that, despite some recent high-tech innovations, is very much a classic technique: networking.

Young Professionals in Energy is a non-profit group helping the next generation of energy professionals find their place in the industry. The group mixes classic face-to-face networking meet-ups with the latest technological tools to help job seekers find the positions they’re looking for. With 20 chapters worldwide, and a membership boasting more than 20,000 job seekers, YPE has established itself as a reliable resource.

Nick Cooper is President of YPE’s Tulsa branch. Speaking with PennEnergy Jobs about the pending Big Crew Change, he emphasized the opportunity it presents for the next generation.

“For 25 years, there has not been a demand for Petroleum Engineers, Geologists, Landmen, etc.  Now, the majority of these professionals are in the twilight of their careers and the industry is booming. There is a huge demand with short supply.  This has created a huge opportunity for young people to rapidly advance in some companies.”

Cooper says positions in Petroleum Engineering and Geology are in highest demand, commanding salaries sure to turn young job seekers’ heads.

“Petroleum Engineers can make over $100,000 per year straight out of school, even with subpar grades.”

Energetic self-starters are having the best success in securing new positions, and even where a position may not be available yet, some eager job seekers are already working to be noticed.

“In my opinion the “gap” that exists in the oil and gas industry is a great opportunity for my generation.  Never before have we seen such a large disconnect in one industry,” said Cooper. “There are thousands of small independents who don’t have someone who can take over the family business. I am already seeing young people in the industry trying to position themselves to take advantage of opportunities that might come up.”

One way young people are staying competitive for those opportunities is through supplemental education. Specifically, it can prove extra beneficial for students on other career paths hoping to steer their way into the energy industries, but Cooper says supplemental education is for anyone looking to round out their knowledge.

“I would recommend accountants and financial people to take some sort of oil and gas course work just so they have knowledge of what they are looking at, Cooper said. “The same goes for people with technical degrees, they should take some sort of business class.”

Even job seekers with environmental or ecological interests have a home at YPE. Cooper says young people interested in clean energy have places to turn if they know where to look.

“There is a role for this kind of professional, but it will more than likely be for an alternative energy company,” said Cooper. “The Mid Continent has seen a huge boom in wind farms over the past few years and there is an increasing demand for these types of jobs.”

YPE also works with other industry and networking organizations. The Tulsa branch has partnered with the Tulsa Young Professionals, as well as the Tulsa Association of Petroleum Landmen and Oklahoma Independent Producers Association. Besides extending the networking reach for YPE’s core demographic, this positions the group to point job seekers of all ages in the right direction.

Besides traditional partnerships and meet-ups, YPE has seen the emphasis of social networking on the modern job hunt. Specifically, Cooper points to LinkedIn as a vital tool for job seekers.

“LinkedIn is increasingly becoming a “must-have” for people in the industry,” he said. “Every day more and more recruiters are using this as an avenue to search for employees.”

YPE’s membership features employees of the worlds’ largest power and petroleum companies, and stretches to positions outside the traditional energy sectors. Lawyers, consultants, and university staff have all found benefits through YPE membership.

Membership is free; the organization’s costs are covered through corporate donations. More information on YPE is available through the organization’s website, www.ypenergy.org

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