Charles Melvin grew up in rural North Carolina, surrounded by farms and textile factories, where his only exposure to ExxonMobil came from filling the tank of his car. Curious about his future job prospects, he Googled his favorite subjects — chemistry, calculus, and physics — to see what might come up as a possible major. The search engine suggested chemical engineering, sending Charles down a competitive career path that included multiple internships for ExxonMobil. He’s currently a reservoir engineer in Texas — but says he’s always preparing for the next adventure ExxonMobil sends him on.
What attracted you to ExxonMobil?
I was attending my school’s career fair my freshman year and I saw a lot of commotion at the ExxonMobil booth — being nosy, I went to check it out. As a freshman, I wasn’t eligible for an internship, but the recruiter encouraged me to apply next year if I kept my grades up “because ExxonMobil only takes the best of the best.” I wanted to challenge myself to intern with ExxonMobil, to compete and work with top talent from other schools. The next year, I got an internship evaluating the viability of infrared optical imaging technology for mitigating fugitive emissions, and returned every summer until I graduated and received a full-time offer.
What surprised you most about your experience?
That my first project was actually important to the company. My summer internship extended to a fall co-op and I was able see my project through completion. I co-authored a technical paper titled “Smart LDAR: Pipe Dream or Potential Reality?” which described how utilizing optical imaging in a “Smart” LDAR (Leak Detection and Repair) program could result in lower fugitive emissions compared with regulatory-required procedures at the time. I even heard a presentation recently where this technology is being used in the upstream business as well.
What was it like to be a new hire at ExxonMobil?
Coming in as an intern definitely gives you a leg up because you get early exposure to ExxonMobil. As a chemical engineering major, I’d typically be geared more towards the downstream business – but thanks to the ExxonMobil Upstream Technical Training Center, I was hired as a reservoir engineer (which is usually reserved for petroleum engineers). ExxonMobil invests a lot of money and time into developing its people.
Can you describe your current job?
Right now I work for a subsidiary of ExxonMobil called XTO Energy. It’s a flat and lean organization – there is more responsibility, but also additional freedom. I split my time between assessing drilling opportunities, working with operations engineers to address problems in the field, and working with geologists to find new, economically viable drill sites.
What have you learned as your career has progressed?
I've realized how much change occurs throughout a career at ExxonMobil! I thought I’d do the same thing until I retired, but there are so many different routes you can go. I’ve learned to take advantage of the training programs and keep developing myself to be ready for where they send me next.