Informational Interview with Jackson School alum, Audrey Pfeil. Audrey graduated from the Energy and Earth Resources Master’s Program in 2018. She also has a Bachelor of Sciences in Geology from the Jackson School.
By: Maya Ortiz-B.S. General Geology major
Describe your job in simple terms.
Audrey works for Chevron ITC where she evaluates, builds and maintains data solutions. She decides if a data solution makes sense for the problem Chevron has at hand. She creates innovative ways to apply data science to old problems that don’t have an answer yet.
What size company do you work for, and what are the pros/cons of a company that size?
Chevron is a huge company, Audrey used to work for companies that were less than 20 people. The advantages of working for such a big company are the resources it provides. Chevron offers company benefits such as a gym and a cafeteria, and a huge network of coworkers with varying expertise. If you need help with a process that you don’t know how to do, there is someone around that does. She sits on a team of about 10 people, but often times she meets with other professionals outside of that group so her contacts vary.
What does a typical day look like for you?
It depends on the project load. Right now Audrey is working on one project, but usually she works on two and exploring a few more ideas. Each day there are small meetings with her team to get everyone on the same page. She spends time figuring out what the needs and feasibility of the projects are; is there enough data – is it good data – and should she make a more conventional approach to solving the problem? She collaborates with a team of developers to assist with decisions about training, programming machinery, and coding machinery so Chevron can implement the deliverable.
How often do you change projects?
Typically she is heavily involved in a project over the span of a few months – possibly a year – but usually a few months. At the same she will be lightly involved in other projects. Audrey is in a program at Chevron ITC that allows her to rotate in the company and get exposure in different areas, such as Geosciences, while still applying data science in her work.
What is the average education level of your colleagues?
The breakdown is about 50/50 bachelors to masters or higher. Software developers mainly have bachelor’s degrees. People performing research for the company typically hold higher degrees, like a master’s or doctoral degree.
What traits, skills and experiences do employers in your field look for in candidates?
Audrey was involved in recruiting students this year and said they are looking for candidates who can solve a problem that doesn’t have a readily available solution. If they can find a solution, is it the best? They are looking for someone who is a communicator, one who can keep lines of communication open even after a project has been completed. Someone who has a clear understanding of the task at hand, but also someone who is open to admitting when they don’t know how to do something. Someone who can learn technical skills quickly even if they don’t have any experience.
Any other advice for students at the Jackson School?
Be open to opportunities. It’s okay to have a career goal, but understand that it might not happen right away! There could be a long winding path to get there, and also your goal might change. Staying open to ideas and exploring careers is valuable because you are learning. Explore across academic disciplines. Take care of yourself mentally and physically. Take a step back and not stress about everything, and also don’t compare yourself to other people and their achievements. Data analysis and programming experience is valuable, and Chevron ITC will hire some Geology bachelor’s-level students if they have this experience.
Additionally, Chevron is a very diverse workplace. The company does celebrations of culture, and there are women’s networks/support groups as well as local events to encourage women in STEM.