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Drilling for Jobs: Your Future with Rowan Companies
by Janet Farley, Contributing Editor

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Article Sponsored by: Crete Carrier and Northern California College of Construction

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You’re transitioning out of the military and you probably have some questions.

Where will you find your next paycheck?

Will it be as hard as you’ve heard it could be to land a decent job?

How will you translate what you did in the military into language that a civilian employer will understand?

Let’s drill it down to the basics, shall we?

Your Future in the Oil and Gas Industry

Veterans bring leadershipLook no further than the oil and gas industry where you will find ample employment opportunities with Rowan Companies, a major provider of global offshore contract drilling services with a leading position in high-specification jack-up rigs, based in Houston, Texas.

Currently, this company operates a fleet of 31 jack-up rigs worldwide in areas such as the Middle East, the North Sea, Trinidad, Southeast Asia and the Gulf of Mexico.

The company is expanding into the ultra-deepwater market and that will mean opportunity for many job seeking veterans, even those without prior industry experience.

“We have started construction on four new drillships that will employ 200 employees each. With normal attrition, retiring employees and these new hires, we have or will hire almost 1,000 employees to work on or support the drillships,” said Luis Pickens, the company’s recruiting manager.

Rowan is now recruiting for a number of jobs, some of which are based on land and others offshore. Examples of these jobs include work flow coordinators, human resource specialists, assistant drillers, safety engineers, operations managers, rig managers, welders, IT project managers and more.

Military Experience a Match for Rowan

You’ll be happy to know that many of the skills you have used in the military are in demand at Rowan.

“Veterans are a great fit for Rowan Companies because they are usually technically skilled, highly-disciplined, take a hands-on approach to getting the job done and often have great international experience,” said Pickens.

Veterans bring leadership, respect for the job and ability to live adventurously to the table as well. If anyone can hit the ground running, it’s you and Rowan likes that.

“Veterans don’t have a steep learning curve,” said Pickens. “Our drillships are state-of-the-art, with the latest drilling technology, and will be able to work all over the world.”

Depending on the drilling location, employees working offshore usually work on/off rotational shifts which can range from 14 to 35 days.

“Many who have served in the military have experienced a similar lifestyle and are more skilled in adapting to such a closed-quarters environment with co-workers,” said Deanna Castillo, the company’s communications manager.

Rowan offers excellent compensation, good benefits and opportunities for continued advancement.

Benefits include medical, dental, prescription drug coverage, vision, basic life and accidental death insurance, disability, 401(k), a company cash balance pension plan and an employee assistance plan.

“There is great opportunity for growth with Rowan within the next two to three years. We want to hire good individuals and grow them with the company,” said Pickens.

Rowan’s deep appreciation for the skills honed by many of our veterans is evident in its recent military hires.

From E4 to E&I

“I was a 44B metal worker in the Army but my mind was always set on a career in electronics,” said Edwin Cifuentes, who is now an Electronics and Instrumentation (E&I) manager at Rowan.

When he left military in 2001, Cifuentes took advantage of his GI Bill and continued his education.

“My life, while attending school and transitioning out of the military was not easy. There were a couple of times that I was barely able to afford gas to go to school or work, but I never let that bother me because I knew inside of me I was doing the right thing and that it would pay off in the end,” said Cifuentes.

Cifuentes was right. It did pay off for him, academically and professionally.

In 2004, he continued his education by enrolling in and subsequently completing a bachelor’s degree program. Also in 2004, he was hired by Rowan as a roughneck to work on one of Rowan’s land rigs (which were sold in 2011) and quickly worked his way up in the company.

“I became part of the yard, helping to disassemble mechanical parts that came in for service from the rigs. That led me to the electrical side,” said Cifuentes. “I’ve been doing field services and supporting Rowan rigs around the globe since 2005 and running the Tech Support Department since last year.”

Room for Growth

Eugene Barlow came from the Marines and now works in Security and Crisis Management with Rowan. He sees many similarities between his new employer and his former one.

“Rowan is a team-oriented company that allows for growth potential and embraces the aspects of military training,” said Barlow who retired as an E7 in 2008 after serving 21 years as a combat, environmental and safety engineer.

“My biggest transition challenge was identifying the civilian equivalent to my military skills,” said Barlow. “As a safety manager/environmental inspector in the Marines, I was required to take specific training and believed that it was equivalent to the civilian training requirements.”

He soon discovered that “equivalent” didn’t necessarily cut it unless the titles matched exactly.

“If you plan to work in a civilian career that requires specific certifications, be sure you research the credentials that will be necessary and obtain those exact credentials using your military education benefits while you still can, if possible,” said Barlow.

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