The New York Times has a new piece focusing on 4 young 20-somethings who are suddenly questioning their lifelong goals of making bank in the oil and petroleum industries.
There's Sabrina Burns, a senior studying petroleum engineering at UT Austin, who has been crushed by the drop in demand for oil and gas, thanks to coronavirus pandemic:
Ms. Burns, 22, said her choices have narrowed considerably over the last nine months. With opportunities in oil and gas limited, she recently accepted an internship with an engineering consulting firm specializing in energy conservation, and she may eventually apply to graduate school in environmental science. She is also considering moving in with her sister after graduation to save money.
"I feel like companies are going to be pretty cautious about coming out of this, about taking new hires," she said.
Tosa Nehikhuere is another UT Austin student featured in the article. The son of Nigerian immigrants, who has been taught his whole life that the oil industry was the way to get ahead in life:
The coronavirus pandemic took hold just as Mr. Nehikhuere's career was gaining traction, and now he is worried again.
Mr. Nehikhuere, 24, did not want to identify his employer, but he said it is laying off workers and is debating how aggressively it should pivot away from oil and gas toward renewable energy.
If the company does move rapidly toward cleaner energy, he said, he is not sure if there will be a place in it for him. "How much are my skills going to transfer?"
Myles Hampton Arvie, a financing and accounting student at the University of Houston, has been forced to seek a lucrative financial gig elsewhere:
Mr. Arvie attracted enough attention to land interviews with several oil and gas companies, but a job offer proved elusive. "It's very competitive," he said, and the downturn has only made it harder to land a position.
Set to graduate in May, Mr. Arvie, 22, has switched careers and accepted a job at JPMorgan Chase, where he expects to get involved in derivatives and marketing in the technology industry. Someday, though, he said, he might find a place in the energy industry.
"I'm a little disappointed," he said. "But you have to keep it moving."
And who could forget poor Stephen Zagurski, who was born in a family job anyway:
Mr. Zagurski, 23, said the oil and gas industry will bounce back just as it has many times over the last century despite popular notions that the pandemic would permanently reduce energy consuming habits. "Demand is going to come back," he said. "Let's be honest here, how many things in our daily lives have some kind of a petroleum-based product in them."
Mr. Zagurski has an internship with Roxanna Oil, a small company with managers who are his second cousins, and he has steadily been given greater responsibility.
On one hand, I commend the article's author, Clifford Krauss, for taking such an empathetic approach to this topic. Indeed, it is a real issue. These are real human beings, who were sold a certain bill of goods from an early age, only to discover as they prepare to graduate from college that maybe all of that was bullshit. I can relate; I went to art school and graduated into the 2008 financial crisis. I am sincerely impressed by Krauss's ability to inject such humanity into this article.
On the other hand: boo-fuckin'-hoo, you're 22 and can't cash in right-quick on an industry that's been consciously destroying the planet for fifty fucking years just so they could make some quick cash.
As the Fox News pundits like to tell my demographic all the time: quit whining and learn to code.
'A Slap in the Face': The Pandemic Disrupts Young Oil Careers [Clifford Krauss / The New York Times]
Image: Public Domain via NeedPix