From Aberdeen to Geological Research - Kirsty LewisKirsty Lewis

MSc Integrated Petroleum Geosciences, 2020
From Aberdeen to Geological Research

Your Time at Aberdeen

Why did you choose to study at Aberdeen?
Having completed my undergrad in Aberdeen, I already had a good relationship with members of the geoscience department as well as a good support network of friends within the city. It felt like a natural path to continue my studies here. Aberdeen also has a large, friendly student population as well as affordable rent prices. Outside of London, Aberdeen is where the majority of the UK Oil and Gas industry is situated. In Aberdeen you have easy access to conferences, interest talks and various other energy-related events right on your doorstep on a weekly basis. It is a great place to network and build on those important connections while conducting your studies.

Why did you choose your particular course?
Having completed my BSc in Geology and Petroleum Geology at the University of Aberdeen, the IPG Masters was the natural route for those who wanted a career in the oil and gas industry. From looking at the LinkedIn profiles of successful geoscientists in the industry, a significant majority had completed an IPG Masters at Aberdeen.

The field trips to Spain and Utah, as well as the hands-on experience examining North Sea core, were also a very attractive aspect of the course. The Utah trip is well known amongst geoscientists as being be one of the best!

The course can be full-on at times but it is amazing how much you can learn in a year. If you want to go into a geoscience-related role, this course is perfect for preparing you for it.

What did you most enjoy about your time at Aberdeen? Did you have any particularly memorable student experiences?
During my BSc, completing my 4th year dissertation in Aliaga, Spain was a period of time I will cherish forever. Having the freedom to explore everyday while doing what you love while being practically cut off from the outside world is an experience I don't think I will ever be able to replicate. During my undergrad, some highlights of the year were the big student events such as the Hockey 6's and St. Andrews student ball. I have fond memories of the Sir Duncan Rice Library. Although mainly a place to study, it is also filled with memories of chatting and bonding with friends. Late nights in the library made fun by being surrounded by friends and laughter. The numerous breaks to go to the wee bakery and then basking in the sunshine outside while avoiding the diving seagulls. When you leave university you realise that some of these simple moments are the ones you will cherish the most - just being able to hang out with your friends and spend time together. During our MSc, we had many late nights in the Basin Studies room. Our friendship and ability to bond over the various group projects enabled us to push through the late nights!

If you were involved in any clubs and societies as a student, what did you enjoy most about them and what benefit do you think they have for students?
I was a member of both the Women's Hockey Club (AUWHC) and Aberdeen Snowsports (ABDN Snow) throughout my studies. Although I had never played hockey before university, there were teams for all abilities. It was a great way to meet other students while keeping your fitness up. The socials were always great fun and included a lot of fancy dress. Aberdeen Snowsports was my favourite club. The ski trips are a must-do (even if you have never skied before). The socials were a highlight of the semester and were always very welcoming. It is a great opportunity to meet people from other courses who are like-minded, outgoing and sociable people.

Did you hold any student leadership roles, e.g. Class Rep, Club Treasurer, Social Convenor?
I was one of three class representatives for the IPG Masters. It was very useful as it created a direct and clear line of communication between the students and the geoscience department. This proved essential throughout the year for voicing concerns, giving feedback, as well as notifying the class of opportunities. It was particularly important when the pandemic first broke out to relay information to the class.

If talking to a group of prospective students, what advice would you give them to help them make the most of their time at the University of Aberdeen?
Make the most of your time at university. These truly are some of the best years of your life. Study hard but also make time for friends and doing the things you enjoy. Take advantage of the facilities on offer around the university campus. Make the most of opportunities. Join a society, join a sports club, attend that evening interest lecture you were given a flyer about. When you apply for jobs in the end, all these experiences will make you stand out. Employers look for more than grades these days and even if you lack work experience, participation in societies/events will make you stand out. Networking is especially important, so take notice of talks or events which the University put on. Don't just stay in Aberdeen as well. Enjoy the surrounding countryside. Scotland has some of the best geological sites in the world in the world which are right on your doorstep, ready to be explored.


Your Time After Aberdeen

What was the title of your first job after graduating from Aberdeen?
Research Geologist for Equinor, where I still am now.

Please briefly describe the journey from your first job after graduating to where you are now.
It was very difficult in the beginning. There were already very few graduate schemes available and then the pandemic hit. Many graduate schemes were cancelled and a few classmates' graduate job offers were retracted. Oil hit a low of 25 dollars a barrel so it wasn't looking very positive for fresh graduates. Luckily, Equinor and one other operator kept their graduate schemes open. I progressed through the interview round and succeeded in obtaining a position on the Equinor graduate scheme in Norway.

Was your degree at Aberdeen essential for getting to where you are now? If so, in what way?
In order to apply for the graduate schemes, a Masters degree was essential. The courses covered in the masters gave the base-level skills and knowledge required to enter the industry in a geoscience role. The industry mentors and various talks throughout the masters also gave great insight into the industry and allowed for good networking opportunities. The thesis project enabled me to fine-tune my research skills and improve my academic writing.

One Top Tip

Don't be phased by rejection. Build and learn from every mistake. Don't give up. "What's for you won't go by you".