About the Author: I’m Michelle. I grew up in Muskogee, Oklahoma and graduated from Oklahoma State University (Go Pokes!) with a degree in Chemical Engineering in May of 2013. I interned with Williams during the summer of 2012 and started joined the company’s rotational program in June of 2013.
For my first rotation, I moved from my beloved Stillwater, Oklahoma to Moundsville, West Virginia… away from everything and everyone I had ever known. Although I was pretty nervous about moving and starting a “real job,” I was equally optimistic about the adventure. Because of the rapid growth in the region, I was excited about the learning opportunities there would be for a new engineer. However, it didn’t take long for me to realize I had more to learn than I thought.
In school, we studied the equipment and processes that are in our facilities – fractionation towers, pumps, compressors, etc. But, we only briefly discussed the day-to-day challenges that can arise when operating these processes, and the business implications those challenges present. One seemingly small change, can potentially impact the entire process. In some cases, it can affect the entire plant and even the gathering system. What I have learned on the job is that collaboration among the different engineering teams is vital for safe effective operations.
In addition to the day-to-day life of a gathering and processing system, I was given the opportunity to be a part of the construction, commissioning and start-up process of a new facility. I was told by my professors back in college that if given the chance to be around for a start-up, take it. So, I stayed in West Virginia for my second rotation taking on more responsibilities, and learning even more about our facilities and the industry. Being in a young, rapidly growing operating area, the learning opportunities are endless.
The three biggest take-a-ways I have from my experience here are:
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
- The more you learn, the more you will realize you don’t know – And that’s OK.
- Make sure you get an apartment with a dishwasher.