Summer Internships: Expect the Unexpected

My first work experience was an adventure I will never forget. My internship was at Pioneer Natural Resources, a national oil company based out of Irving, Texas. I was a Production Engineering intern for their South Texas Asset Team, focusing on the Eagle Ford. I remember getting a call in the spring describing to me what I would be doing for the summer. The basic foundation of the internship was set up like most. I was given a mentor, assigned a project, and expected to present it by the end of the summer, but I had no idea what was in store for me when I got there.

Mackenzie at water production plant

Mackenzie (left) and fellow intern at a water production plant in Trinidad, Colorado.

The recruiters had informed me about a week-long intern trip that I would be taking about two weeks into work. They said that we would fly into Denver, Colorado first. We’d travel by bus to Trinidad, Colorado to visit a water production plant as well as study important geologic features affecting the Raton Basin, from which Pioneer produced. Next, we would continue the trip throughout Texas. We’d visit Fain to see the company’s gas production plant, Midland to study pumping units as well as the process that went into producing them, and finish in San Antonio to see a drilling rig.

I remember the day we boarded the bus, 40 interns, complete strangers, wondering what in the world we had gotten ourselves into. The head recruiter got on the intercom system and said these words exactly, “This trip is more than educational. You will make life long friends this summer and it all starts with this trip.” Of course, no one believed him, but boy, were we wrong. My summer working not only quadrupled my knowledge about the oil industry, but gave me something I never expected to gain, best friends.

Mackenzie at a sand mine in Brady, Texas where Pioneer mines their own sand to use as a proppant.

Mackenzie at a sand mine in Brady, Texas where Pioneer mines their own sand to use as a proppant.

I would say that was the biggest surprise about my internship. I had always been told by upper classman that internships were where I would learn the most. Career Services always stressed the importance of an internship and how my career depended on it, but never informed me about how fun the experience itself would actually be.

I left my internship with a flurry of emotions. I felt powerful because of my increased understanding of the industry and of what had been taught to me in school thus far. I left excited about my chosen major, knowing I loved the day-to-day job and the people in the industry too. I left recharged and ready to learn, knowing how important the things I’m learning in class are to my future, and mostly, so eager about working hard to get another internship.

This summer, I have my second internship with Chevron and I cannot wait to see what it has in store for me.

Mackenzie Caldwell
Petroleum Engineering
Junior