Career development

SPE eMentoring: Expert Career Guidance Across Boundaries and Borders

SPE eMentoring program provides young members an opportunity to benefit from the knowledge of experienced professionals from around the world.

SPE 101 - Men in discussion

If you are, or soon will become, a young member of the oil and gas industry and have questions about which career path to choose, and are looking for guidance in setting and reaching your professional goals, an excellent resource to use is the SPE eMentoring program. For students, mentors can provide academic and career direction. Young professionals (YPs) can receive guidance on how to orient their career progression and diversify their skill sets to speed up their career growth. YPs also have the opportunity to serve as mentors to students.

With an online approach, this program helps mentees benefit from the knowledge of experienced professionals from around the world, irrespective of the distances that might separate a mentor and mentee.

“Being a mentor in the SPE eMentoring program has been a good and rewarding experience for me,” said Brett Levy, who recently mentored two students, one from Penn State University, and another from Tufts University. “During my mentoring period, I have lived in Denver and Worland, Wyoming, working for Schlumberger, and the program has allowed me to build relationships with my mentees in spite of being thousands of miles away from them.

We would communicate regularly via email and LinkedIn to check in on how their classes and projects in school were going, what internships they were interested in, and what career paths they were looking at pursuing after their graduation. I provided as much insight as I possibly could to help them start their careers.”

Building a Mentor Relationship

The eMentoring program is free for SPE members and participation is easy.

1. Go to  to register and complete your profile.

2. Search for mentors by selecting your set of criteria such as mentor’s area of expertise, type of company, gender, and country. You will be presented with a list of available mentors who meet your requirements.

3. Review the mentor profiles and submit a request to the mentor of your choice.

4. Once matched, take a proactive approach in shaping your relationship by setting an agenda for your goals and aspirations.

5. Mentors in return share their professional experience, industry trends, advice for defining and reaching goals, as well as recommendations for additional education or development. 

The mentoring relationship lasts for 1 year, and, if necessary, this period can be extended.

From College to Industry

 A current mentor in the program and senior reservoir engineer with Shell, Miguel Cabrera helped his mentee Chen Bao, a PhD student at Penn State University, to successfully transition into a young professional with a job in the industry. “In May 2014, Chen  and I connected through the SPE eMentoring program and developed a lasting relationship that resonates to this day,” says Cabrera.

“Throughout the year, we kept in touch through emails where Chen asked me about technical work performed by petroleum engineers at Shell to gain an understanding of where he would like to aim his career toward, i.e., reservoir engineer, petrophysics, geophysics. We also had discussions on the different types of simulation models in the industry and their tradeoffs. I could tell by the quality of our discussions that Chen appreciated our periodic check-ins as much as I did. 

Bao said of his mentor, “While as a student I am always eager to learn more about the industry and the technical details of daily work, I found scarce opportunities to directly communicate with oil and gas professionals. Luckily, I signed up for the SPE eMentoring program and had Cabrera as my eMentor. He was very responsive to my emails and could always fill me in with the much-needed insights from the industry.

For example, initially I thought optimization is essential for simulator development. Cabrera made me realize that sensitivity and uncertainty analysis is even more critical for reservoir simulation. Guided by his notion, I decided to learn more about the statistical methods for sensitivity analyses.” 

The mentoring program helped in the interview process as well and Bao started a full-time job at Shell in December. Bao found Cabrera’s suggestions during the job search invaluable and feels grateful for his efforts. Cabrera is continuing to be an eMentor and is guiding another mentee.

Encouraging other young SPE members to explore this program, Bao said “I think my experience exemplifies how the program can serve as a bridge between college education and industry. It is tremendously helpful for students as we grow into young professionals.”

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