Each year BP, a BHP corporate partner, holds a three-day program called BP Discovery Days for college students interested in learning more about the oil and gas industry. Last year, two BHP students participated in the program and greatly enjoyed the experience. BHP juniors Anne Theil and Varun Bhatnagar shared their experiences in the program with us below. The deadline to apply for this year’s program is March 1.
How would you describe the BP Discovery Day program?
Anne: The program is three days long over a weekend in the summer, with multiple program options to choose from. The program I participated in (Diversity Days) was held near downtown Houston. The first night we had discussions about diversity, leadership, and ways to network. The second day we heard from Aleida Rios, VP of Operations Gulf of Mexico Region. I enjoyed hearing her talk about how being a minority woman in the oil and gas industry impacted her career. In the evening we all went to Top Golf to relax and wind down. The final day we volunteered at the Boys and Girls club of Houston.
Varun: It was a great way to learn about important leadership principles with other students whose majors ranged from business to engineering. In addition to honing our leadership skills, we also networked with BP employees working in a wide variety of fields, heard from a former Paralympian, and participated in a community service project.
Why were you interested in the program?
Varun: I wanted to learn more about the energy industry. I believe in learning by doing, and by participating in a program by one of the major players in the industry, I knew I could get a better understanding of it. I was also interested in hearing new perspectives on leadership, both from BP employees and my fellow participants. The ability to understand and work with people coming from different backgrounds will be a very crucial skill in my future career, and this program was a great way for me to develop that skill.
Anne: I was interested in learning more about the oil and gas industry first and foremost, but this was also a really good networking opportunity, since there were around 30 other hard-working and motivated students with me. The program I completed also awarded a $1000 scholarship.
What did you learn from going through the program?
Anne: I think the program really opened my eyes to the fact that there are so many other high-performing, ambitious students out there that share an interest in working for oil and gas. It’s very possible that I’ll be working closely with some of the students I met during the program, so it was important to make the effort to get out of my comfort zone, network, and keep in touch with them afterwards!
Varun: The most important thing I learned from the program is the value of diversity. A major theme of the program was how diversity in thought and in background can be extremely important assets in a team, and I could definitely see how that was the case through the program. We learned about different leadership styles, and worked with students from all across the nation with a plethora of different majors – as a result, I gained many new perspectives on what it means to lead and work as a team.
Why would you recommend this program to other BHP students?
Varun: The BP Discovery Day program, along with other leadership development programs, are invaluable resources for BHP students, especially for underclassmen. It’s easy to think the only way to learn more about a company is through internships (which can be difficult to get in the first two years of college), but these programs (which are often geared towards freshmen and sophomores) help you to learn more about the company hosting the program, about how to become a better leader and team member, and about the perspectives of students coming from different walks of life than your own.
Anne: I think this is probably one of the best, well-balanced leadership programs I have attended. I learned a lot about BP and what it’s like to have a career there, and the program leaders are passionate about teaching you how to market yourself as a young professional. We also had a lot of time to have fun and make friends with the other students. My favorite thing about the experience was the volunteering project on the last day– we all went to The Boys and Girls Club and repainted their gym. It was a neat little snapshot of the kind of outreach that BP performs in the community.
Anything else you want to share with fellow students about it?
Anne: The application process is just a few essays on why you are interested in the program/the oil and gas industry, and then a video essay to describe yourself and (for my program) how you are diverse. I would highly recommend this program for anyone interested in oil and gas!
Varun: This was a very memorable experience that helped me improve my leadership skills and gave me an entirely new network of contacts. Yet if I had not stopped by the BP booth at the career fair and applied, I would have missed out. Take advantage of any opportunity that comes your way – you never know what good things might come from it.