A lunch break blogger, just writing to hear herself talk.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Looking Back - Foundation

I get to BABYSIT this little tub 'o cuteness on Friday!!!
And my sister didn't even say "Wanna babysit... at mom's house Friday night?" #SisterFaith
I cannot wait. I may need to go out and buy a crib for the occasion!

     Today marks my first day as a real engineer. I was in the Hess Foundation program for... 2 years, 6 months and 19 days. And today, this post won't be that funny. It will be a post that marks a career point for me that I want to remember and look back on one day. So I'm going to write about my rotations so I remember them. I remember what it was like to be a 2 year engineer. Before I get too wise and callused and forget what an emotional, trying, developmental 2.5 years this has been.

     Right out of college, I was in Seminole Facilities. I hired on with one of my good friends from school at pretty much the same time. Our mentor left the company 2 weeks after we started and so for 11 months, he and I handled all the facilities projects for the field. At age 22. We knew each other well and had worked together before so for those 11 months, we combined to become the equivalent of one semi-decent engineer. 
     I did the things I was good at; economic evaluations, computer simulations, funding proposals, deadline management. He pushed the crews and managed the day to day out in the field, which was great. I hated being in the field. I hate being in the field. That hasn't changed. My other half was my crutch. He had my back during meetings, if I got caught with my pants down and I did the same for him. We bounced our stupid questions off each other. When I got stressed out, he'd talk through it with me. He could really piss me off better than anyone I knew and I called him out when he was getting a little big for his britches (daily). We fought pretty much every single day. We were very best friends and also coworkers. I don't think it was the healthiest way for me to spend the first year of my career, leaning on someone like that so much, but I'm sure it's made me what I am today so I can't regret it. 
     He made that year tolerable because during that time, I had a manager that infuriated/terrified me and I dreaded coming to work each day. He made me cry once and after that, he became my arch nemesis. When it was finally time to rotate to our next rotation, I told myself that when it was time to come back to Seminole, if that manager was still here, I'd quit and go to work for another company. Looking back, if he HAD still been here when I came back 1.5 years later, I wouldn't have quit. I would have been fine. I'm way tougher these days. 
     When I moved on, my other half got persuaded to stay and eventually persuaded to remove himself from the Foundation training program. After about 2 years, he left for another company. We have kind of lost touch since.

     I was given 9 days notice that I was needed in the Bakken drilling group in Houston and I think I was packed to move in about 3. I was so ready to get out of Seminole. I moved to a swanky downtown Houston corporate apartment (fo free, yall!) and started work the next day. I worked for a superintendent that's no longer with the company so I can say it; he was craaaazy shady. He worked whatever hours he wanted, he told stories of his unprofessional antics, he was like... the "cool" superintendent. Which was useless to me and annoyed me. BUT, there was only 1 other guy in our group and we worked a 9/80 schedule and they both had the "green" Friday off and I had the "gold" Friday off. So, on green Friday, I was in charge of all of our rigs. I think there were 3 or 4 of them. It was thrilling. I had a good time with it. 
     However, on any other given day, I'd write drilling programs, meet with bit salesmen, monitor surveys, occasionally fight a fire or two... but really it was a bit easy? We were blowing and going so fast up there, there wasn't time for creativity so we had a standard drilling program that we didn't deviate from. There wasn't any real brain power required. That's when I got in to blogs. :)
     I did get to go visit my rig a couple times... a week here or there up to North Dakota. I stayed on the rig for some of my visits and at the man camp for others. I liked those trips okay. It was kind of boring but drilling was either boring or stressful. There was no other emotion about it. Watch the pipe turn or yelling at a DD. No happy medium. I learned SO much in that rotation though because it was my first (and only) down hole rotation. I started at zero and learned exponentially. I actually requested 2 extra months because I was still learning new things.

     After that I went to Production Excellence and that one is so hard to describe. I loved it? Is that description enough? I worked 12 hour days and didn't bat an eye. I threw myself in to that role completely. My job title was "Project Controls Engineer" and the description was to manage the different projects the team had going on, verify they weren't conflicting, going over budget, running behind schedule, ect. Kind of a vague description I guess, but maybe that was intentional because I was a little bit of everything in that group. I'd say mostly administrative, though. 
     There's just something to be said about a technical administrator. I knew what they needed before they needed it. I learned each person on the team's style and personality and I was able to adapt my work style to their's. They were leaning on me for creative, thoughtful work. I just didn't own any projects of my own, per say. There were plenty of projects that I knew more about than anyone in the group, that I pushed and made decisions for, but they didn't have my name on it.
    And I ran the meetings. Oh, how I loved running meetings. One of my responsibilites was making up the agenda for monthly meetings & quarterly face to face meetings. The people in these meetings were, oh, probably 4 or 5 pay grades higher than me but I knew what they needed to be talking about. I knew what decisions we needed to make or what projects were struggling. I didn't have a dog in the fight so I could be objective about what we discussed. So, I wrote out the agendas for the week long meetings with 15 - 20 international attendees. Of course, I had to get them approved and my manager had changes and vetoes. But by the end of my time there, I had really gotten the hang of it. I would interrupt meetings if things were getting off track. I was trusted. I was respected. I loved it.
     AND I got to go to Denmark. There was a team of 6 people going over to Denmark for an assessment and I wanted to go so badly. I waited to be invited, then I invited myself and got turned down, then I listened to the team talk about how stressed they were and how they needed more help, then I asked one of the team members to nonchalantly mention how great it would be if I could go and help, and then I got invited!
     Two days in Copenhagen, Denmark followed by 3 days on an offshore platform 60 miles off the coast in the North Sea! I could write a whole blog about that trip so I won't go in to it... but it was incredible. Really, I didn't learn that much and the jet-lag was so new and harsh to me that it kicked my butt the whole trip. But after I was done, I took a week's vacation and flew over to London (since it was free!) and D came over and met me (his flight was not free... but we couldn't pass up the chance). We played tourist and saw all the sights and took a tour out to Paris and Bath, England and we went and saw Stonehenge and had the time of our lives. It was a trip we will never, ever forget.
     I came back and wrapped up my rotation and fought with my heart about being sad to leave. During this rotation is when D got his job in Midland. He actually was between jobs during the trip to London and he moved down to Midland 2 weeks before me. So I was excited to go move in with him and live in the same town for the first time, so near my family, and be there for my sister's pregnancy and birth of my niece. But I was also tormented about leaving a place where I was so happy that I'd become a workaholic. The day D flew in to help me pack up my car and drive home with me, I felt like a boy had just broken my heart. I cried as we drove away and insisted on stopping for ice cream to really drive home the whole break-up analogy.

     I still miss Houston. I still miss that job. I miss those people who treated me differently than any "field" rotation had treated me. But that rotation made me a different person. It made me feel CAPABLE. It made me so much more sure of myself. Now, I can run an effective, decision-based meeting. I stick my neck out for what I believe in. I see the value in this field rotation so much more now. But I'm no longer a workaholic, that's for sure.

     This last rotation has been a "Gas Plant Facilities" rotation. I moved to Midland and started back to my hour long commute to Seminole. I was back in my steel toes and coveralls. I was back to the drama and bad morale. A place where when I ask a question, I get a 2 hour lecture because EVERYONE is my mentor. Everyone treats me like their daughter or grand-daughter. No one expects anything from me and no one trusts me (which is actually a smart move since it's been so long since I was in a technical role). I was back to not caring about my work. And it took all the maturity I'd gained in the last 2 years to force myself to throw myself in to my work again. 
     Luckily I got a project assignment that I really believed in. Water Conservation at the Gas Plant. And even though I thought it was a good project, a worthy project, I still had a hard time working hard at it because of my working environment. 
     And now my rotation is ending. It has already ended. I'm done. This rotation was a bit of a blur. I think it's because there have been times that I think I have been legitimately depressed. Like stare through my computer screen for 10 minutes before I realize it, crying in my car at lunch, gaining weight depressed. It gets better each day. I think partly because I'm happier than I've ever been at home. I can take the bad (Seminole) with the good (Daryl). 

     But now it's done. I'm a real engineer. I have a meeting tomorrow with the other engineers on my team to look at their project lists and see what I can take off their plate and what I can support them on. I think having some responsibility and gaining some trust will make this a more tolerable couple of years. I'm ready to get started. Get BUSY. I miss being BUSY.
     Well, that's enough about that. I probably won't post too much about my work. I don't talk much about it either. My blog is the embodiment of  that saying, "If you want to know where your heart is, look to where your mind goes when it wanders." The wanderings of my mind. Where my heart is. That's what I'll blog about.


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