In the spring of 2022, the American Association of Petroleum Geologists held its international conference and exhibition (AAPG ICE), in Cartagena, a resort town in Colombia. The convention took place in the Centro de Convenciones Cartagena de Indias. This convention profiled businesses from countries all over the world, including Poland, Trinidad and Tobago, and Portugal, to name a few.

Local Colombian geoscientific companies also attended the convention.

Canadian students may be unaware of the benefits of attending such a convention, but there are plenty:

  • the opportunity for students to learn more about their field, in an international context
  • the opportunity to scout out potential job opportunities, and
  • the chance to network with many professionals.

AAPG ICE 2022 had many international exhibitors, such as the nation of Poland, represented by the Polish Geological Institute. The institute, whose website states it is the “oldest Polish- wide scientific institution”, had many informative giveaways such as a booklet of the history of Poland and its related oil and gas history, as well as a USB drive detailing the regulations of Poland related to oil and gas. This institute also profiled natural gas developments in Western Poland.

Other countries, such as Trinidad and Tobago, located not far from Colombia, were represented and provided information about the oil and gas reserves and resources in their countries. For students, it was a good opportunity to expand their knowledge of oil and gas activities in the Caribbean.

There were many international talks at AAPG 2022 ICE, including one from Portugal that I attended. These talks were held in very large auditoriums which allowed presenters to address a large audience.

Talk given at AAPG ICE 2022

Knowledge about oil and gas, in an international context, is not the only benefit students can get from this type of conference. Networking opportunities for job-seekers were plenty. Many Canadian companies were there, including Absolute Imaging, Chinook Energy, Qeye, and TBI. One CEO of a Calgary-based geoscience company told me that there are many sorts of job opportunities for students, and that knowledge and understanding of geopolitics is necessary for students.

In terms of job openings, at the time of the conference, Chinook Energy was advertising two positions for recent graduates. Absolute Imaging was also more than willing to obtain resumes from students. Absolute gave me a USB containing many useful brochures and white papers. Qeye is also willing to hire students, but requires a master’s degree for any potential recruits. Finally, TBI, another Canadian-based company, had recent graduates as exhibitors. Contacting companies like them, thanks to the convention, will be critical to success within your field.

Lastly, networking is an important benefit of AAPG ICE. I found many business cards that were available in many sorts of display booths, and even if people were not exhibiting, they

were more than willing to give you their business cards. There is a reason for this, in my opinion: they are interested in people who want to know more about their companies or who are interested in potential jobs to expand their network. You should be keen on marketing yourself to potential employers. As someone who has studied advertisements and commercials for broadcasting, a good advertisement and impression will lead to strong customers (or in this case, employers). Make sure you have your own professionally printed business cards which will allow you to leave a good impression with potential employers. You should be outgoing and meet as many professionals as you can.

Of course, you have to keep in mind the price of going to conventions: flights from Calgary to Cartagena cost $900. In addition, there are no direct flights between the two cities, necessitating several connections through cities such as Dallas and Miami. You will also need to pay for the convention registration (student rate), the hotel, and meals.

If you do not have the money, then it might be unfeasible to go to Cartagena, however, you do not need to fly, in order to attend a convention. In Calgary, GeoConvention is held every year, and attracts exhibitors from all over the world. Such a convention would only necessitate a drive to the downtown core, or a ride on the CTrain. The next GeoConvention will be held on May 15 – 17 of 2023.

Other conventions within Canada include an international convention on oil sands, which will be held in Fort McMurray in September, 2023. In Toronto, an upcoming convention on March 5 – 8 called PDAC 2023 will involve mining and mineral exploration.

Conferences need volunteers, so if you wish to attend a conference, look into volunteer opportunities at that conference. For example, GeoConvention is looking for volunteers to help prepare and ensure the success of the 2023 program. The opportunities range from technical session AV support to registration and poster judging. For students and unemployed, you are eligible for a $100 refund of delegate registration costs with a minimum of 8 volunteer hours. For more information, go to https://geoconvention.com/volunteer/.GeoConvention also offers the “Student Travel Assistance Program” which is designed to assist students who wish to attend the convention but may not have the financial means to do so. Approved applicants will receive 75% of eligible expenses to a maximum of $750 CAD to cover travel expenses. For more information, go to https://geoconvention.com/travel-program/.

Around the world, other upcoming conventions are numerous: AAPG ICE, keen on staying in Spanish-speaking countries, will take place in Madrid, Spain on November 6 – 8 of 2023. The International Petroleum Technology Conference will be held in Bangkok, Thailand on March 1 – 3, 2023.

There are many conferences, both internationally and locally, and it is strongly advised, if you can, to go there to get valuable information and networking opportunities.

About the Author

Misha Mustaqeem is a fourth year student in Mount Royal University completing a degree in Bachelor of Communications – Broadcast Media Studies. His parents are geophysicists for Petro-Explorers.