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Earlier this week I posted a LinkedIn comment about the 40th anniversary of my first day on my first job in the oilfield – as a Halliburton field engineer in Enid, Oklahoma (a yard that was closed about 30 years ago). 120,000 people looked at the post, 1,000 people reacted to it, almost 100 people commented on it.

And one guy took exception to it, saying how misguided Halliburton was to waste an engineer’s time by making him sweep out the warehouse or load bulk trucks or hammer iron together for a frac job:

Goes to show why this company is performing so poorly on all fronts. Reason: Undefined roles. When an engineer mops floor that goes to show the management has no clue. The share price of this company has skid down from 52 to 21 while general stock market and oil prices are faring decent.

We’re all entitled to an opinion and I don’t agree with his. The oilfield service sector has the word “service” in it and “service” means people who know what they are doing out at the wellsite. I prefer the comments from these people:

Never understood why my pops made me go to work cleaning and rebuilding rental iron coming back from offshore... until now.

Nothing like learning the business from the bottom up. Knowing what goes into getting the job done bottom to top is a priceless commodity this day and age.

ALL engineers from every field should have to go through this, even before they get that degree. No better way to give respect for the ones that actually do the work than when you have been in their shoes/boots.

A great engineer knows how to marry the theoretical and practical. It also doesn’t hurt having some street cred.

But I’ll give the last word to my old friend Doug Walser, who started the same way I did and became a WAY better oilfield engineer than I could ever dream:

It may be that what we considered mundane at the time was not only “training”, it was a conscientious effort to teach us that there is real value in the jobs that people perform every day, regardless of their education or background or social status. Yes, we were relieved to graduate from that cement bulk truck to a cement pump and then to an air-conditioned pickup—— but it’s impossible to not have respect for those lessons learned.

A mobility-based workforce, the disappearance of long-term employee/employer relationships, and other factors have largely eliminated this practice that was so prevalent in the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s. But every once in a while, you see a service company or operator jump back down that road, and it is heartening.