The pandemic has created an absolutely awful situation for recent college graduates, with many of them facing cancelled internships, withdrawn job offers, and the daily realities of living at home with their parents again rather than in their first apartments. And I feel bad for every single one of them, except for the subjects of a Sunday New York Times piece, young 20-somethings who are upset they had to defer their long-held dreams of destroying the Earth.
The students and grads featured in the story aspired to positions in the oil and gas industry, which has been disrupted by covid as well as by our hopes and dreams of still having a habitable planet in a few decades.
“We got a slap in the face, an entirely unforeseen situation that rocked our entire mind-set,” Sabrina Burns, a senior at the University of Texas at Austin, told the Times. (I would also like to note that Burns told the Times she was inspired to pursue a career in the industry after hearing stories about women engineers servicing oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. Big-time “hire more women guards” energy.)
“I have applied for every oil and gas position I’ve seen, like all my classmates, and nothing really has turned up,” she said. “I’m discouraged.”
Another oil industry hopeful said he was interested in becoming part of a what appears to be a waning sector before it disappears completely, logic that I cannot grasp when applied to a career that would help expedite the climate crisis.
“Energy and gas is something I am passionate about,” said Myles Hampton Arvie, a senior at the University of Houston. “Oil and gas is not going anywhere for the next 20 or 30 years, so while we are making that transition to cleaner energy, why not be a part of it?”
Before you worry too much about Arvie—who was not offered a position at any of oil and gas companies where he interviewed—rest assured: He now works at JP Morgan Chase.
One grad included in the Times report is actually currently employed in the industry, but he’s concerned about its volatility: “There is going to be a significant amount of layoffs, change and outsourcing,” Tosa Nehikhuere, a 2018 graduate from UT Austin, told the outlet. “To be honest, I don’t know if it’s going to affect me or not. It’s really up in the air.”
As an aside, I must point out that the turbulence he describes is certainly not unique to the oil and gas industry. But if he’s interested in a job with more stability, might I suggest a green one: While there’s usually a pay cut involved, green jobs still pay up to 25 percent more than the average American job, and some pay six figures. The industry has been “relatively stable” over time, according to NPR, and, pre-pandemic, jobs in the sector were growing at 12 times the rate as those in other U.S. sectors.
But best of all, you can go to sleep at night knowing that your work doesn’t actively contribute to accelerating the death of our planet. #Goals!