With the arrival of summer an annual rite at Aera Energy commences – interns from around the country drop in for first-hand experience in the oil and gas industry. They get that experience by tackling a project designed to make a real-world difference at Aera.
Each summer Aera welcomes a new class of interns and this year’s group includes students from Texas A&M, UCLA, USC, Colorado School of Mines, Montana Tech, Taft College, University of Alaska, Purdue and Cal State University, Bakersfield. In addition, four students from South High School’s MS3 program – which has been supported by Aera since the company’s founding in 1997 — are part of the internship program.
“As a company, we see the value of fresh perspectives and brilliant minds,” said Ryan Nelson, a human resources specialist, who helps oversee the intern program. “The projects the company designs are intentional and degree focused. True to the Aera Way, the intern program only delivers projects that add value to Aera.
The interns are recruited across a broad range of job skills with some heading into production, land, human resources and environment, health and safety. When the interns arrive they are assigned a mentor and a manager.
“The mentors and managers ensure the intern’s project is aligned with the company vision, strategy, and team objectives, wherever the intern may work in Aera,” Nelson said.
For Emily Bloom the decision to apply for an Aera internship was based on two factors: she’s studying to be a petroleum engineer at Texas A&M and it’s close to home.
“I love college and have so many fun experiences in another state, but Bakersfield is my home,” said Bloom, a graduate of Bakersfield High. “Visiting my old teachers and telling them where I am now and why I’m back home is such a rewarding feeling.”
Karen Sandoval, another Bakersfield native, said the opportunity to work with Environment, Health and Safety was the opportunity she’s been working toward at Taft College and eventually at CSUB.
“The culture that has been developed here is so diverse and so welcoming it’s still unreal that I was blessed with the opportunity to experience it,’’ said Sandoval, a Centennial High grad. “Not only do they talk the safety talk, but they walk the safety walk. It’s preached and followed through with actions. This is what I like most about what I’m doing as an intern.”
The development of CSUB’s Environmental Resources Management program has also directed interns to Aera, along with other companies in the region. Aera endowed the program’s occupational safety and health management concentration, and that helped draw Sabrina Delgado to her internship.
“I chose to apply to Aera for an internship because I knew Aera would offer me a tremendous amount of experience, said Delgado, who is also gearing up for her senior season on CSUB’s women’s soccer team. “The oil-field experience will help develop me as a safety professional as well as an individual.”
For more than 10 years Aera has targeted students from Colorado School of Mines, Montana Tech and UCLA, but Nelson said that strategy is beginning to expand to other universities in order to attract top talent.
Aera’s recruitment of those three universities, however, continues to attract top students, including Montana Tech’s Jonathan Vargas who is working in Ventura’s EHS team. Aera’s commitment to safety has made a big impression on Vargas.
“This is where Aera is different,” said Vargas, a veteran of the US Army, who served in Afghanistan. “The safety culture here is real and always looking for new ways to improve.”
Vargas said his journey to an Aera internship started two years ago after meeting EHS manager Lucas Paugh at a career fair. Vargas credited Paugh with maintaining contact with him over the last two years, leading to the internship.
“Aera offered an internship that was flexible between Industrial Hygiene and Safety and was everything Lucas and I talked about in the fall of 2016,” Vargas said.
Nelson said one of the strengths of the program is how it impacts the community, and attracts newcomers to the area.
“While the interns are here, we encourage them to start building their network as well as to get involved in various (employee resource groups) and community events,” Nelson said. “In some instances, interns have even coordinated their own volunteer activity through Public Affairs.”
One such person is Ashley Davis, an electrical engineer, who was an intern with Aera during her college career, but who came on as a full-time employee after earning her master’s degree from Georgia Tech.
“I love how involved Aera is in the Bakersfield community,’’ said Davis, a native of Georgia. “Not only was I able to get involved and learn more about Bakersfield through my involvement in community service, Aera also gave me, and other interns, the opportunity to serve as the lead organizers on several community service events which, I feel, made me have a better appreciation for Bakersfield and feel I had an impact.”
Of course, the four South High students are examples of how Aera works with the community to foster science, technology, engineering and mathematics education. All four of the South High grads plan to pursue STEM as a career after graduating from college.
The interns are:
Alby Harris, University of Alaska
Alexandria Maruska, Montana Tech
Ashley Benson, Purdue
Eddie Kim, UCLA
Hannah Young, Purdue
Jonathan Vargas, Montana Tech
Madison Elms, Colorado School of Mines
Karen Sandoval, Taft College
Sabrina Delgado, CSUB
Mar Castillon, South High
Kimberly Guzman, South High
Malcolm Francisco, South High
Noe Garcia, South High
Emily Bloom, Texas A&M
Bretton Tomlinson, USC