We recently caught up with UA alumna Amanda Rubio '10 to chat about her life at the University of Arizona, how she landed her first engineering gig working internationally and advice for Wildcats trying to do the same.
Tell us a bit about your college experience.
Early on in my school years I developed a passion for math and science, and it was my interest in those areas that lead me to choose chemical engineering as a field of study. Attending the University of Arizona proved to be far more adventurous and fulfilling than I had originally expected. For me, it meant representing ZonaZoo at the home football and basketball games, discovering a community in the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) and National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), and creating unforgettable memories with friends that would last a lifetime.
After graduation, I began work in the oil and gas industry for Schlumberger as a stimulation field engineer. This opportunity opened the door to work overseas and for the past five years I have enjoyed working overseas in Brunei, Thailand and, currently, in Myanmar.
Were there any lessons you learned from UA that you can share with us?
The number one lesson I learned was to get involved. There are numerous organization and clubs at Arizona that overlap with student academics, social interests and beliefs. Getting involved can provide a supplement to your academic studies, help develop skills that are necessary in a professional career, and create a balance between your academic goals and social interests. The key is to get started in campus life early on in your academic career. I became actively involved in two clubs that were in line with my interest of community outreach, professional networking, social interactions, leadership development and academic growth. My involvement geared me towards opportunities that I otherwise would have not experienced if I had never joined.
How did you get your first gig out of college?
Through SHPE, I attended the organization’s national conference where I participated in the Extreme Engineering competition. It was a 24-hour design competition sponsored by top engineering companies. As a conference participant, I interviewed with the companies and I was chosen by Raytheon to join their team. At the end of the rigorous competition my team won first place and I earned the title of MVP. At the conference, following the competition, I was able to arrange onsite interviews with several companies, including Schlumberger. Within two months of the conference I had a second interview with Schlumberger and was honored to receive an international contract.
What is a typical day like for you?
The oil and gas industry in Southeast Asia mainly operates offshore, therefore I work in an office environment as well as on a boat or vessel. While in the office I meet with the clients, prepare technical design for a stimulation job and complete post-job analysis reports. When I am working offshore, my first task is to debrief with my team, about 15-20 operators and supervisors, to plan the day’s activities. The day includes function-testing equipment, lab testing to check the fluid stabilities and preparing for the possibility of completing a stimulation job. It often requires long hours to ensure a successful and safe execution on the days that my team and I complete a job.
As part of my ongoing career development, I am required to complete rigorous training, demonstrate successful project management and meet performance expectations. The training includes two different courses that are completed in the duration of approximately two months. The courses consist of technical lessons requiring ongoing testing with a passing grade and hands-on tasks to better prepare for onsite problem solving. My recent promotion was the most time-consuming, as I had to take the lead of a nine-month project, delivering presentations to upper management and completing interviews with several different department managers to review my knowledge.
What do you do for fun outside of the office?
Travel, travel and travel! Since I live and work in Southeast Asia, there are multiple countries that are only a few hours’ flight away. I adapted to Asian culture in Brunei, rock climbed in Thailand, explored the ruined temples of Cambodia, witnessed the beauty of New Zealand, rode a scooter through the busy streets of Vietnam, observed the tallest building in the world in Dubai, enjoyed the bullet trains of Japan, met the Merlion of Singapore, experienced the diversity of Malaysia, appreciated the pagodas of Myanmar, walked along the Great Wall of China, toured the palaces of Seoul, ’Tuk Tuked’ around Laos, visited the red square of Moscow, consumed the delicious cuisine of Taiwan, celebrated the New Year in Australia and seen the vast rice fields of Indonesia.
Any advice for students wanting to break into your field?
An entry level position in the oil and gas industry often begins at ground zero, such as the well site or refinery factory. This means that you will have the opportunity to venture between different environments, from the office to the field, where you will experience hands-on learning. Recruiters often look for flexibility, adaptability and problem-solving skills because the oil industry can be fairly unpredictable.
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