WSPA Young Professionals Series: Part 4

For our “Young Professionals Series,” WSPA is proud to continue sharing stories of new college graduates who are starting their careers in the oil & gas industry. To learn more about their experience, we asked them what inspires them and what opportunities they have had through our industry.

In this fourth post of our series, we spoke with a graduate from the University of California Los Angeles, Danielle Sink. Coming from a family of engineers, Danielle pursued her passion for chemical engineering because of the important role energy plays in fueling the modern world.


Name: Danielle Sink

Year Graduated College: 2015

School and Degree: University of California, Los Angeles with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering

Employer: Philips 66

Job Title: Sulfuric Acid Alkylation Engineer

What inspired you to pursue a career in oil & gas?

I come from a family of engineers, so I studied engineering. I like chemistry, so I studied chemical engineering. I only had a surface-level idea of what the oil & gas industry actually looked like prior to college, but I remember wandering around a career fair and being inspired talking to the companies there. I liked the idea of working in energy because of the importance of the industry and how it fuels the modern world. I interned at Phillips 66 and enjoyed that I got to see the impact of my work firsthand and actually got out into the field to do hands-on troubleshooting. I’ve been working in the industry ever since.

How has the industry helped you grow professionally?

The oil & gas industry offers such a diverse range of opportunities and career paths. The exposure I’ve received and the knowledge I’ve gained – while still being a relatively new hire – has been truly rewarding. I’ve worked primarily in my refinery’s Business Planning group for the first few years as a full-time hire. But I’ve also gotten to participate in several major unit turnarounds, attend a variety of company and industry training programs, and now I’m back in a more traditional chemical engineering role at the sulfuric acid alkylation unit. I’m learning the big picture and the tiny details that keep a refinery running. I’m networking and I’m developing a stronger understanding of one of the most vital industries we have today.

How has the industry helped you grow personally? 

This industry has helped build my confidence. Moving from reading textbooks in a classroom to receiving hands-on experience in a refinery definitely started out as quite a shock. There is always a continuous flow of work and often very tight deadlines. But there are also so many people around you that are all working toward the common goal of running safely and reliably. The fast-pace, the meaningful work, and the diverse group of coworkers has together taught me how to make decisions, speak up, and really learn my stuff. It has made me an altogether more confident person when I share my work.

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