Three months for a great deal of learning
Tecpetrol’s Summer Educational Practices (PEVs, for their acronym in Spanish), which are held in Argentina every year, ended on March 31. Almost half of the young people enrolled had to do their practice remotely. Even so, they all agreed that the experience had been extremely enriching and praised the role played by their tutors during the process. These are some of the testimonials shared by the participants.
It turns out that COVID-19 is not a barrier to learning. At least, that’s what Tecpetrol employees say about their work and learning over the last year, and it's also the conclusion drawn by the 25 young people who chose to immerse themselves in a large-scale in-depth work experience over their summer vacation in Argentina.
College provides tools and theoretical knowledge, but it’s in the workplace where you learn how to do things and can start to flex your muscles in the profession, acquiring new skills and learning how to contribute and work in a team.
This year, the company selected 25 young people – 13 women and 12 men – from different academic centers in the provinces of Buenos Aires and Neuquén. Of the students, 44% did their practice remotely, 26% in hybrid learning form, and the remaining 30%, who were deployed to work in the Neuquén fields, were able to complete the course in person, always respecting the health and safety protocols and preventive measures put in place to safeguard their health and that of their colleagues.
“This really was a historic edition in terms of the performance process, due to the fact that we achieved high compliance and commitment rates at each stage of the process. All the participants uploaded their work programs in the first week and had these validated with their bosses, and all our leaders completed the feedback requests within the deadlines established. This shows the zeal and commitment of our tutors to their interns,” points out Sofía Zelayeta from the Development team, who is herself a former intern.
At the end of the three months, a survey was held among the students, where they were quick to point out that the objectives defined in their work plan were pretty tough. However, 96% of them also said that these were very clear, and that they’d had access to all the tools required to meet their goals, an aspect that was rated four points up on the score received in 2019.
As for feedback, 87% of the students said that they received periodic input, a percentage that increased by 13% compared with the previous year.
For Claudia De Conti, Head of Talent Attraction, despite the context of the pandemic and the fact that almost half of the young people had to do their practice remotely, “this edition greatly exceeded all our expectations, something which was reflected in the evaluations completed by the trainees at the end of the program.”
An inside view of the experience
Belén Marquina is a Chemical Engineering student at UNComahue. She was a PEV in the Conventional-Chemical Treatments area as part of a hybrid study scheme. "It was good to be able to go to the site and see how the processes worked in real life, as it helped me later when I was studying at home to understand how it all functioned." After she completed her summer internship, and barely a step away from graduating – all she has to do now is to present her final project – she joined the Young Professionals program in the area of Health, Safety, and Environment.
Belén believes that the PEVs are well designed, as “it’s very rewarding, and you gain a lot of experience because your very own co-workers are responsible for guiding you and explaining things to make you feel more confident. Besides, it gives you the chance to see what it’s like to work in the field, which is virtually impossible for a student outside of this experience.”
She recommends that "all those doing an internship should take the opportunity to visit the Fortín de Piedra site one day if they can, it’s really impressive." And she advises those who want to take part "to make the most of it, to not be afraid to ask, and try and join in everything. Also, even if they don’t continue down this path, it’s a really useful experience to help them decide what career they want to follow in the future."
Lucas Miranda, who’s studying Petroleum Engineering at the Institute of Technology in Buenos Aires (ITBA), had the opportunity to work as a summer intern in the Reserves area at the company’s offices and is now still working in the same sector as an ordinary intern, doing what the company calls an Ordinary Educational Practice (PEO, for its acronym in Spanish).
Lucas had quite high expectations as this was his first job. “I was really eager to learn, both about the oil sector, and also about teamwork, I wanted to interact with colleagues and bosses, to learn from them in order to begin getting into the pace of work. I think that although the remote modality is a bit limiting for certain work aspects, the internship as a whole amply met my expectations.”
During the three months of his internship, Lucas was working on two main objectives: creating a database of the company’s reserves, and consolidating the historical database of the Argentine Energy Secretariat’s reserves (SGE, for its acronym in Spanish). "I think these are both tasks that added a great deal of value to the area since, by bringing together everything in one place, any form of analysis can be carried out far more efficiently," he explains.
Like Belén, he recommends other students sign up for the next edition of the summer internships: “I think the program is a great way to transition from an academic environment to a professional one. Being able to apply what I learned in college for the first time was a huge step forward for me, as you tend to have a purely abstract appreciation of things. Putting what you’ve learned into practice ends up being quite different,” says Lucas.
Agustina Jonte, a Geology student at the UBA, agrees that “it’s an incredible experience. If you get the chance, don't miss it! You get to learn a lot about the workplace, the industry, and it’s a great help in terms of starting one’s professional development. All the people in the work team and in the company in general are really helpful, they’re so professional and friendly.”
Agustina was an intern in the Unconventional Development area at the company’s offices, and today she’s working as an ordinary intern. "At first, I didn't really know what to expect and so I was quite nervous," she recalls, but then she realized that the project to which she had been assigned "was super interesting, and my goals and tasks were really important." She was placed in charge of organizing and analyzing geological control data from a number of wells in Vaca Muerta, mainly in and around Fortín de Piedra. “I felt like I left my mark on the company, and I'm delighted that my initial expectations were exceeded by so much,” she says.
She adds that the relationship with her tutor was excellent. At the outset, "he explained everything about the area and the objectives to be met during my internship, and, as I made progress with my tasks, he was always extremely clear and very willing to answer questions or explain new concepts for me." She points out that "both he and the other members of the team I worked with are not only incredible professionals but, as people, are super friendly and made me feel part of the team right from the word go."
There’s no doubt that the experience of these summer internships at Tecpetrol will have left their mark on these 25 talented young people as they forge their professional careers.