Steve Weiner graduated from UT in 1981 with an M.A. degree in Geology. Steve first worked for Exxon as an exploration geologist, then joined XTO Energy for the next 15 years where he became Manager of Geology, West Texas. After he retired from XTO Energy , he became an independent consultant for Three Rivers Operating Company and acted as their Chief Geologist. Recently, Steve has retired from the business and now resides in New Braunfels with his wife, Kathy. Over the years, Steve has generously shared his time and expertise in the oil and gas industry with Jackson School students. He serves as a mentor, encourages other alumni to become mentors, and assists students with enhancing their resumes and improving their interviewing skills.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced with working in the industry and what advice, tips, or pointers would you give to someone considering this line of work?
My advice is to communicate well while working with other people. I tell students to communicate regularly and don’t step on other people’s toes,. At the same time, stand out from your peers and respect their opinions and ideas. Prioritize your most important tasks first and then make sure that you finish them before you attempt any other. Practice your communication skills. Talk in front of a mirror so you can hear yourself. Learn how to create an effective PowerPoint presentation by improving your writing and presentation skills.
What motivated you to go into the oil and gas industry?
I first realized in college that I didn’t know how to study. I was originally a pre-med student, but decided it wasn’t for me. When I looked back at my favorite classes in the 6th and 9th grades, I realized how much I liked geology and earth science. I explored what I could do with a geology degree; considered environmental geology, hydrogeology, and teaching, but decided to pursue a career as an oil and gas exploration geologist.
What would you tell someone who was going into this field solely for the high salary?
The oil industry is cyclical and if someone works solely for the paycheck, they will either not enjoy it, do the bare minimum, or not perform well. When there is a downturn in the industry, the first people who are let go are the people who don’t perform well.
Which classes or transferable skills did you find useful while in school that proved to be useful in your line of work, and why?
I took a class in depositional systems; that class was about understanding the entire process of sand deposition. In this class, the professor gave excellent presentations and it really caught my interest. Transferable skills that prove valuable are presentation and written communication skills. You need to know how your presentation will look to an audience, how to write effectively, and how to publicly speak. These skills enable you to establish credibility.
What is something you wished you knew back in college?
You are responsible for your own career. Continually improve yourself and take learning into your own hands. Learn the skills necessary for the job. If your school doesn’t offer a course in that skill, learn it on your own or from another source. If you don’t, the company will hire the person that does have those skills. Take responsibility for yourself and do research! The companies you work for may only do what is in their best interest.
What was the purpose of generously donating funds to the Jackson School of Geosciences?
My wife and I were both geology students and everything I’ve done in my career was based on what I learned at UT. We believe it is a great thing to give back to the students to make their college life easier. For example, if a student cannot go to field camp because of the cost, I can offer an endowment to pay for that. And when we give back, we have an opportunity to meet all these good people!
How would one achieve a work-life balance in this field?
Early on I had young children and I didn’t put in extra hours on work so that I could spend it with my family. As my children grew up, I spent more time on work, but family was still my main priority. Put family and yourself first because they are your responsibility.
Do you have any other advice for Jackson School students and alumni?
If you are successful in the oil industry, you might have the chance to become a millionaire. However, there exists a trade-off between work and family. Remember family first. A couple years ago, I attended a scholarship luncheon here in the Jackson School where a woman came up to me and thanked me for helping her with a mock interview and her resume. It is very satisfying knowing that someone feels you helped them get their ‘dream job’ by being involved in and giving back to the school. I highly recommend being an active alumni after your graduation and beyond.