Challenges accepted


Barbara Wolff - from university to trainee program

In 2005, Barbara started studying for a Bachelor's degree in Georesource Management (GRM). Originally, she wanted to study geology, but since this degree programme no longer existed and the GRM programme was offered at RWTH for the first time in the same year, the Applied Geosciences or Georesource Management degree programmes were shortlisted. In the end, she decided against AGW, as it allowed her to bypass the larger mathematics component. In 2017, Barbara finished her career as a student with a Master's degree in EMR, which she achieved in standard study time.

For Barbara, the start of the study period was not easy at that time. For her personally, the transition from school to university was a big leap. "You forget the basics and do everything a little bit but nothing properly," she says. In addition, the course was in its first year and everything was still new. Barbara had to repeat exams and increasingly felt pressure to perform.

Nevertheless, the study period awakened her love for geology. The Master's degree with a focus on EMR was finally exactly what interested her. During the Master's, Barbara became more and more interested in the question "Where do I have to drill to find something?" Despite the bumpy start, there is also much that Barbara remembers fondly. The excursions were "like a class trip with an overnight stay" and at the same time she was fascinated by hands-on geology. Getting out of the everyday university life is a big plus in geography studies. Above all, the geothermal excursion to the Philippines was "spectacular" and she also particularly enjoyed the Alpine excursion. In addition to the excursions, she mentions the work of the SPE and the cooperations with various companies, which she remembers positively. During her time at RWTH, Barbara also learned sign language.

Barbara used the lecture-free time to complete an internship at Schlumberger, among other things. In the process, she was a representative of Schlumberger at Wintershall and, in this context, went to Oslo, where software that was to be adapted was being developed.

We asked Barbara what her plan was after graduation. Like probably many other students, the thought "Oh God, I'm almost done" came to her more and more often during her Master's thesis. However, very few people have a concrete plan. Barbara knew she wanted to stay in western Germany because her boyfriend had a job in Belgium and there weren't enough geothermal jobs locally. She then became aware of Weatherford and their trainee programme through presentations by the SPE. The work there piqued her interest. It sounded exciting and exhausting and she wondered if the programme would be too hard for her. Although she thought she wouldn't be accepted, she tried and got on as one of two women, took part in a telephone interview, completed the assessment and was finally told by phone call in November 2017 that Weatherford had chosen her.

In the trainee programme, Barbara learned basics in areas such as communication, conflict resolution, using weaknesses and management skills. The trainee programme has a duration of five years. Participants are accompanied by experienced engineers and learn about subjects such as physics, technology and practical application in the form of test drilling in a school system. During the trainee programme, she had to take a kind of quiz every day and there were exams every week. "The trainee is tough, but I like the challenge, it's like a love-hate relationship," Barbara says.

Working as a wireliner means not having a daily rhythm, you work sometimes at night, sometimes at the weekend, Barbara tells us. If, for example, a temperature measurement is due, the time windows are very small and she has to leave as soon as she gets the message. Nevertheless, she says, "the job is really cool!" Barbara travels all over Central Europe, has already been to the USA, Romania or France. The job offers her a lot of variety and challenges her at the same time. In her work she is never alone, but works together with her crew. Of course, there are also days off between work, when she goes sightseeing or enjoys the sunrise at the drilling rig.

When Barbara looks back on her time as a student, there are a few things she would give students today. "Look left and right and learn something for the real world," she answers immediately. You put a lot of stress on yourself as a student. Besides, there are more important aspects than the standard period of study. During the trainee programme, she had to take a kind of quiz every day and there were weekly exams. Above all, soft skills and voluntary work are important when applying to companies later on.