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Masa Dutta is an alumnus from the 2018 batch who graduated from the department of Earth Sciences with a Masters’ degree in Applied Geology. Where many of her peers chose to go into research roles, Masa tried a company internship at Schlumberger after her 1st year. On getting a Pre-Placement Offer from Schlumberger she joined them and is currently working there as a Petrophysicist. Through this blog, she shares some valuable insights into her role, how should one prepare and what can one expect from this field.

1. What prompted you to go for a job after your final year (as opposed to higher education or other options)?  What aspects of the company/career path did you consider?

In the field of Earth Science, I  believe exciting job opportunities are limited. Personally, I didn’t have a choice to explore research opportunities (which turn out to be rewarding if you are patient enough) and given the lack  of compelling job offers in core earth science, I had to exclusively look into opportunities in the Oil & Gas sector. The journey can be pretty exciting despite a series of downturns it endured. Plus the compensation package in the industry seemed worthwhile. 

Before joining Schlumberger, I did not consider any specific career path deliberately. It was the diverse growth opportunity I found in Schlumberger during my internship which helped me to consider taking up a job here!


2. Given that Earth Science has a very broad and ambiguous job description, what exactly constitutes the job of an Earth scientist at your company? Also, what hard/soft skills are needed, to be good at it?

There is no such profile as Earth Scientist in my company. I am a Petrophysicist with 2 years experience. I help in the processing and interpretation of wellsite data. I have seen others (not “Earth-Scientists”) from Science and Engineering backgrounds get comfortable with the same job description very easily. I can assure that there will be no ambiguity once you get in the game!

A good grasp on core subjects is sufficient to fit in the job description. As for soft skills, it is something very crucial to thrive in any service provider company. I believe technical proficiency combined with communication skills,  critical thinking ability and competitiveness are the key to survive.


3. How is the placement process for this sector in general and for your company? What was your preparation strategy and did it vary from company to company?

In my academic year in IITB, there were two corporates from the Oil & Gas sector who came for hiring (from Earth Sciences): Schlumberger (day 0) and Cairn India (Day 1). Usually ONGC (national oil company of India) also hires (but it was blacklisted that year). Schlumberger is sought-after amongst students for providing internship opportunities to Geoscientists (worth mentioning because limited industrial opportunities are given to core earth scientists). Pre-placement offers are also given to potential candidates. 

If PPO is offered, candidates will only have to go through 1) short-listing of resume for Internship 2) Group Discussion and 3) Technical and HR interview combined. 

Since I had accepted PPO offered by Schlumberger, I was out of the placement process the following year.

I had prepared myself to develop a strong knowledge base of Structural Geology, Sedimentology and Petroleum Geology to appear for such interviews. Also I had a fair idea about the energy market in general. For example, the changing trend of crude oil price, history of the downturns it survived till date etc. Having a fair idea of the market is important because despite the cyclical downturns, this industry never fails to give lucrative job offers! 


4.  If you were to do an expectation vs reality of getting into this particular job?

Fortunately, there isn’t a stark difference between expectation and reality. In this job, as a Geoscientist,  I have the privilege to apply technical knowledge every now and then. Most importantly, the work culture in Schlumberger is one of the best in Industry. It fosters the most transparent, unbiased and positive working environment. I have peers in national oil companies as well who refuse to agree to the same about their employer. 🙂

I will advise not to expect harmony between work and personal life once you are a part of the industry because it is somewhat difficult to achieve. As a service provider, customer satisfaction is of utmost importance and to achieve that, there will be long nights! Plus expect frequent challenges in the technical field and stay active to come up with solutions.


5. How did you build up your skill-set for the same, through any internships or courses inside and/or outside the institute? Any resources you’d like to mention which you used while preparing?

Frequent communication with seniors and  peers is the best way to know what is relevant in industry. I have not really opted for any such courses which are supposed to  navigate me to the right direction. In my Bachelors, I was  actively involved in debating society and I believe that culture has instilled a habit of quick decision- making and helped me to remain well-versed. 

As for resources, there are plenty available online!


6. How did you start gauging your interest in a profile/career path? Were there any turning points where you identified your interest in a particular area or there was a shift in interest?

Before joining Schlumberger, I was focused in proving how pertinent my technical skills could be. With time, I am gaining interest in financial modelling in the Oil & Gas Industry. It is certainly possible to diversify your interest to various aspects once you gain insight on the industry.


7. How good are the growth opportunities available in your company? Are there any personal gratifications obtained from the job?

In Schlumberger, there is a fixed-step growth opportunity for initial years in the Company. The process is very transparent and training is provided to ensure this growth. Overall, to  grow in Schlumberger,  one will have to master self-managing skills. You will have to seek and grab opportunities on your own. 

I feel satisfied when the efforts of long nights are recognized:)


8. What are your long term plans?

Given the brand value of Schlumberger, there is always an opportunity to switch to research or MBA. As I have mentioned earlier, I have a preference for Sales and Financial modelling. With time, I might  align my profile accordingly. 


9. How do you think the current scenario (COVID-19) is going to impact Earth Science as a sector, and also the companies? 

Demand for Oil and gas has plummeted due to COVID-19 and as we all know crude oil price has hit the all time low very recently. Many other E & P companies have filed bankruptcy. This is a volatile situation for the energy sector as a whole. However, I see a gradual rise in demands from this quarter and I believe it will continue to be so. 


10. Closing note: A word of advice to the people sitting for placements this year?

I would like to specifically highlight a  key point for people with core Earth Science background:

In our country, core topics in Earth Science are covered in a traditional way and it requires serious updation . Meanwhile, it is important to get familiar with coding. This message is solely for the Geology crowd, as it is not always considered thoughtfully despite being a part of course structure. 

And in general, there are few suggestions:

  1. Attractive compensation package should not be a driving factor while deciding for  job vs research opportunities. Spend time with yourself before jumping to conclusions.
  2. Good technical background is important. So are soft skills!
  3. Additionally, COVID pandemic is yet to hit the economy at its worst. Before joining any industry, study the market trends and use your intuition to guide you in making the right decision.
  4. Stay positive. Nothing is more important than your well-being!

Good luck!