As a mother to a young daughter, I make an effort to live the present and to not miss any milestones as she grows. Having already realized how time flies when I’m with her, I sometimes wonder what her future holds and what wise advice I can give to put in her toolbox so she can stand tall in front of different situations related to three complex categories: life, love and career.
I could write about the first two categories for days, but when it comes to career, my advice is rather simple:
Don’t count out STEM too soon. As a Reservoir Engineer for oil and natural gas, I’m aware of the low rates of girls choosing STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) career options. Should this career path interest my daughter, I want her to have the confidence to pursue it by sharing my own experience with her, the education to learn about what her options are in this dynamic field and making her aware that it is a fun path to go after.
Take advantage of internship opportunities. The knowledge gained in a classroom is not fully realized unless it is applied to real life situations. Internships are one of the best ways to test your skills and figure out what aspects of your career interest you the most. Take the opportunity seriously, soak up all the knowledge you can, get to know and learn from other interns and your superiors and ask for feedback on your performance; these are lessons you’ll have for years to come.
Not every job will be a dream job. It usually takes time to find that dream. Some jobs will offer more opportunities than others or some will be less challenging. Ultimately, these experiences will help you prepare and learn for the next amazing opportunity down the road. It is up to you to make these experiences a positive one.
Foster a positive working environment. Interaction with co-workers and managers can make a difference in our jobs. You can feel passionate about what you do but you will not fully experience your dream job until there is also a great working environment. Treating everybody with respect, understanding that there are different work styles and establishing a culture of open communication and honesty will help you master this.
Always practice your values. Always choose a job that goes in alignment with your personal values that not only benefit you, but also gives back to your community in a greater way. I feel very fortunate to work for an employer and industry that cares about Colorado, and encourages employee giving and volunteering; it makes me extremely proud to do what I do.
Ultimately, I want what every parent wants: to see my child happy and to pick a career she enjoys and is passionate about. Whatever that is, it is up to her. I just hope to be there for her and proudly cheer her on from the sidelines.
Written by Patricia Cuba, Reservoir Engineer for Anadarko Petroleum Corporation.