Megan Lim is a junior from Portland, Oregon studying chemical engineering with a minor in management. She is involved in various organizations around campus including Society of Women Engineers (SWE), Engineering Honors Program, University Residences and Guest Center. She had the opportunity to work as a process engineering intern at BP, in the Houston office, where she not only gained valuable skills and knowledge but also furthered her interest in the oil and gas industry. She will be returning to BP next summer and will be working at one of their refineries in Washington.
Where did you work over the summer?
I worked as a process engineering intern at BP’s Houston office supporting Atlantis, an offshore oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico.
What attracted you to the company/position?
Initially, I didn't think of the oil and gas industry as a field I would be interested in, but after talking to some of the company representatives at SWE events and at IR, I was intrigued by what their engineers were working on. Their projects sounded relevant to what had initially attracted me to chemical engineering, which included planning long-term improvements to dealing with day to day operations in an industrial setting.
Can you tell me a little about what your overall experience was like working there and what your typical day was like?
My experience far surpassed my expectations. I had a terrific manager and team that answered all of my questions and supported me throughout the summer by helping me build my technical and intrapersonal skills. I learned an incredible amount and found myself far more interested in the oil and gas industry than I had originally anticipated. I also had the opportunity to travel offshore to a platform in the Gulf of Mexico and talk with the offshore team about my project, and walk it down with the operators who were responsible for the unit.
The typical day onshore consisted of morning meetings to discussions about the platform activities, and those discussions included what work was scheduled and whether anything had mysteriously stopped working. I spent the rest of my day working with my manager, coworkers, and offshore team to work out the kinks of my projects, such as evaluating the safety aspects of my designs. Throughout the 12-week internship, we also participated in activities like bowling and volunteering at the Houston Food Bank to bond with the other interns.
Do you feel that your past internships helped prepare you for this one? If so how?
My past internship was an NSF REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) in South Dakota, where I was researching a novel counterfeit medication detection method. Despite the different industries, I found that my previous research experience helped me with my next role in terms of developing my technical writing skills and a motivated sense of curiosity.
What did this job teach you about yourself?
Beyond discovering an interest in the oil and gas industry, I realized the importance of company culture. Different companies within the same industry have unique working environments, and in addition to seeking out a specific role it’s worth exploring what type of personality a company has. I also learned that I unabashedly enjoy asking questions, as that’s one of the ways I learn the best.
Where do you see yourself working post-graduation?
I envision myself working as a process engineer in the oil and gas industry. I’m actually returning to BP for the summer of 2019, working at one of their refineries in Washington, and I consider myself fortunate to have the opportunity to experience both the upstream and downstream sectors. Based on my two experiences, I’ll probably decide which segment I’m leaning toward when I look for a full-time job.
How do you feel that your education at Purdue helped you while working for this company?
Being at a large public university, Purdue offers a lot of resources from the various coursework to the different campus organizations. Purdue offers and provides many different paths for students to choose from and they certainly don’t spoon feed you opportunities but rather support and encourage you as you decide which path to follow. I was able to translate that instilled self-motivation to my internship, making an extra effort to talk to engineers from different departments and explore the different offshore operator duties.
What career readiness tools has Purdue provided you with?
I am continuously impressed by Purdue’s career resources. I always know what steps I need to take to be prepared for IR and other career fairs because the CCO and various professional organizations host professional and practical events, like company workshops and resume reviews, for students. Additionally, the CCO Handbook was a terrific help when crafting my resume freshman year.
What career advice would you give to underclassmen?
Join an organization that has polos and name tags, chances are they’re well-established and will provide skills that can translate to a professional setting. For me, that organization was SWE, and I had the opportunity to get involved in planning our professional development events. My involvement has helped me build my intrapersonal skills and played a big role in securing my past summer’s internship. Also, apply online before career fairs!