Doug Brown, president-elect for the Jackson School's Friends and Alumni Network (FANs)

Doug Brown, president-elect for the Jackson School's Friends and Alumni Network (FANs)

Doug Brown (B.S., 1984) visited the Jackson School of Geosciences last spring for Real World Geology 101, a student brown bag forum on geoscience careers. As the president of BXP Ltd., an oil and gas acquisition and development company in Dallas, he had a wealth of experience to share with the students.

“I said to them one of the most important things I ever did as a student was to try to find summer jobs related to what I wanted to do after I got out of school,” he said. “By the time you are out, you have experience and a list of references you can use. It also shows you have initiative.”

At the end of the forum, a sophomore geology student approached Brown, expressing his interest in doing some geology work that summer, and asked if he had any job opportunities. Impressed by the young man’s initiative, he offered him a two-month job and began to hatch the idea for a program that would connect more alumni with underclassmen for mentoring. And thus was born SMART Start, the Summer Mentoring And Real-world Training program.

“I wanted a way for the alumni to give back to these students,” said Brown, who is also president-elect of the Jackson School’s Friends and Alumni Network (JSG FANs). “They represent a vast pool of experience and talent. There needs to be a sense that they should give back and share with the students.”

Brown is seeking out alumni across the state who are in a position to hire students. Ultimately, he envisions providing students who are heading home for the summer a list of summer job opportunities in their hometowns, whether it be Dallas, Houston, Midland, or elsewhere.

He said summer jobs help students zero in on the kinds of work they would like to do and, perhaps as importantly, the kinds they don’t want to do.

He said it also benefits the Jackson School: by “completing the circle” between students, faculty and alumni, a successful jobs program will lead to “better educated students, more successful students and more effective professionals” who in turn will give back to the Jackson School.

“One of the most exciting things was that I could start building my resume after my sophomore year,” said Evan Pearson, the hydrology student who went to work for Brown last summer. Pearson got to sample many parts of the oil and gas industry from the inside, spending part of his time out in the field seeing how the roughnecks did their jobs, hearing from Brown about his own college education and how his company operates, and making subsurface maps of sand layers.

“I was like an apprentice,” said Pearson. “I would recommend it to any undergraduate here.”

Brown said there is one other reason why he is so interested in cultivating students.

Starting the summer after his freshman year, Brown worked five summers in a row for three oil and gas companies—first a small independent, then a large independent, and finally a major. He said the work experience set him apart from most of his peers and gave him the experience and confidence to transition from college to career.

“The number one reason is that I benefited from a summer job program,” he said. “Someone gave me the opportunity to work and learn at their company.”

To find out how you and your company can become part of SMART Start, contact Julie Paul, Assistant Director of Constituent Relations at 512-471-2223 or jpaul@jsg.utexas.edu.

by Marc Airhart