WSPA’s “Young Professionals Series” illustrates recent graduates who are embarking on their oil & gas careers. This series highlights young professionals that are passionate about sharing what inspires them and their outlook of this industry.
In this piece, we interviewed Adam Gray who recently graduated from the University of Oklahoma. After his sophomore year interning in oil & gas, Adam was inspired by the amount of change he was able to initiate through this industry and wanted to make his experience into a career.
Name: Adam Gray
Year Graduated College: 2017
School and Degree: BS Electrical Engineering, The University
Employer: Valero Energy
Job Title: Associate Electrical Engineer
What inspired you to pursue a career in oil & gas?
For new grad electrical engineers, oil and gas careers (or power/reliability in general) aren’t as common a career path as some of the “cooler” technology-based paths. I initially wanted to be an engineer for a technology company like Microsoft or Google and work with analog electronics or RF engineering for a cool new gadget. When I interned in O&G during my sophomore year, I was surprised at the level of control I had over my own destiny and the amount of change I was able to initiate. Since I was an intern, I’ve felt that this is a field where you’re given all of the responsibility you can handle, and the harder you work the more success you are given the opportunity to earn. That level of flexibility and ownership over my own domain was difficult to turn away from when the time came to decide what to do after college. So far, my decision has been a good one.
How has the industry helped you grow professionally?
In my short time here (~1.5 years) Valero has generously invested thousands of dollars and weeks of my time in training. This not only helps me to contribute on a day-to-day basis at work, but also helps me to be a contributing member to the reliability and power engineering communities at large. My boss has been vocal about the need for professional certifications and technical training, and his bosses have always been open and supportive to that. The reality of it is that the equipment we have here requires significant technical knowledge to be operated safely. Our company has invested wisely in the training required to ensure that we can operate safely and reliably here now and into the future.
How has the industry helped you grow personally?
I think the real catalyst for personal growth for me was getting to know all of the people that I work with. I relocated from Oklahoma to California to take the job, so I came in with little knowledge about the people I’d be working with or the area that I’d be living in. The workforce at our plant is very diverse, and realizing the teamwork that’s required from a team with so many people from all different walks of life has been an eye-opening experience.