When I was approached to write a column outlining my thoughts and experiences as I work towards an undergraduate degree in Geophysics, my mind (and heart) started racing. I felt an overwhelming sense of excitement, realizing that future employers, colleagues and friends would read about my adventures as I climb this mountain of success. I feel very privileged to have this opportunity. I will do my very best to give you interesting snippets of my journey that I’m sure will make you laugh, cry and possibly inspire.
I should give you a little background about myself. At the ripe old age of 17 I was seduced out of school by oilfield money, and I spent more than a decade working as a legal surveyor in the oil patch, as well as a few harsh winters as a derrick hand on the rigs. Education was the furthest thing from my mind. I never understood what value a degree had when any monkey could make 100K a year. That is until I started to travel with my wife. We travelled though some of the poorest countries in the world and saw things that to this day still make me shed a tear. And through all the suffering and devastation, smiles and laughter could still be found. This gave me an epiphany. I realized that everything I was doing back home was not for happiness, but for money. I mean really, only the clinically insane would be happy tripping pipe in fifty below! So upon my return to Canada, I enrolled myself at Chinook Learning Services to pursue happiness though education. I spent two years gaining the prerequisites for university entrance, not really knowing where I would end up. My first thoughts were towards engineering, as it just seemed the most practical. When I found out that everyone and their dog wanted to be an engineer I figured that a backup plan was in order. So I went to the student counsellor to ask for advice, and I will never forget it. She asked me, with all of my experience, why would I want to change? Why not grow? I really liked the sound of geophysics and it seemed like a natural progression.
Now I’m at “big boy school” and I must say that I am thoroughly impressed with the support system that my selected degree path offers. I joined the geophysics club at the university to get involved and hopefully make a few friends. Little did I know that it was one of the most important decisions of my life. I attended the first meeting where they had a speaker from the CSEG talking about the mentorship program they offered where senior industry people would get together with students and give them insight into the finer points of the industry. This really sparked my interest because I knew from experience that the “ins and outs” are just as important as the degree itself! In the second half of the meeting another person spoke about the importance of networking. You may know her, Carmen Swalwell? She was very adamant about the importance of meeting people in the industry, not only for summer jobs, but to learn about what you are getting yourself into. After the meeting ended we all headed out for a pint and a chat. I made it my mission to get a few minutes with Carmen to introduce myself and tell her my story. She mentioned that her husband was a geophysicist and that I should say hello when he came to pick her up. We talked for almost an hour. After a few more pints I had to get home to tackle a mountain of homework, but before I left, I remembered the mentorship program and I thought to myself, why not ask the geophysicist you just met! I am now very proud to say that Kelly Hrabi is my mentor.
Since that night I have met many industry people, all the way from techs to presidents and every single one has “given me the time of day”. This speaks volumes for the industry, when the presidents of large companies are willing to talk to mere undergrads, giving them insights and possibly making friends. With each passing day my excitement increases and my horizons broaden. You too should feel lucky that you have chosen a career with such comradery and integrity. It’s a rare thing.
Until next time...