Liberal Arts Career Services
Liberal Arts Career Services

Texas Railroad Commission

Fall 2018

Position: Surface Mining & Reclamation Division Intern
Student: Geography Senior

A day in the life for an intern at the Railroad Commission of Texas involves critical thinking, hard work, and a great attitude. The Surface Mining and Reclamation Division specializes in regulatory and revisionary assessments for mines across Texas, a highly lucrative industry. No daily routine at the office is the same; rather tasks are assigned given what is most needed on any given day. In particular, my internship experience was well rounded, covering most aspects of office duties and providing assistance in a variety of ways. Shadowing engineering specialists is a large portion of the internship, which entails listening to there professional analysis and providing sound feedback. A typical day starts by reporting to my supervisor, where we cover current and future projects. Afterwards, I report to my cubical to begin my assigned work. Projects can range from hydrological analysis, infrastructure analysis, bond calculations, permit review, and more. Skills in AutoCAD, GIS, Google Earth, and watershed modeling software are required, but staff is more than willing to assist. I’ve found that attention to detail and asking questions is the best way to learn the environment at the surface mining division, as the process is unique from most other agencies.  Like any new job, a positive attitude goes a long way for yourself and others around you. Internships are crucial to career development and post-college success.  I would highly recommend an internship at the railroad commission, not only because of the friendly environment and interesting work, but also because of the skills you pick up and the passions that you develop for a future career.

Spring 2017  

Position: Intern
Student: Government Junior 

I am an intern with the Railroad Commission of Texas in the Oil and Gas Division’s Production Department. We are situated on the eleventh floor of the William B. Travis building on the north end of the Capitol complex. I complete a variety of office tasks and facilitate coordination between the departments on my floor. My role is similar to that of the position of Administrative Assistant within the department, as we both carry out simple tasks and facilitate coordination.

My day begins as soon as I enter the office. Often I walk in and the daily mail is there ready for me to sort and categorize. I divide the mail, which mostly consist of T-1 Forms that detail the monthly oil and gas production from every company extracting and transporting the fuels in the state of Texas. I remove the Page 2’s from the reports and count how many different wells are reporting changes in production. These separated forms are then batched by district, of which there are 13, and sent to their respective departments for further processing. The batches return where we put the forms back together for record keeping. After all the forms are whole again, I scan the forms into the digital database.

Besides primarily handling T-1 Forms, I also manage separate Production Reports, which are essentially T-1’s without extensive detail, and P-18 Forms, which details how much oil and water was received and skimmed for each lease. In addition, I was tasked this semester with digitizing the monthly production from each company reporting to the Commission for the last five years. This has consisted of transcribing the reported production from note cards to an Excel spreadsheet. Pound for pound, the Excel spreadsheet is the most time-consuming portion of my day because it consists of solely hardcoding.

My only daily requirement is that I handle and sort the mail, which can take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour depending on how much mail there is. The rest of my day consists of either scanning forms for records, assisting in the additional form sorting, and/or working on my Excel spreadsheet, in addition to every state employee’s mandated fifteen minute break.

Spring 2013

Position: Intern
Student: International Relations & Global Studies Senior

A typical ‘day in the life’ of an intern at the Railroad Commission of Texas is as follows:  Arrive at the building and proceed up to the 11th floor via the elevators.  Once there, proceed to Dave Hill’s office in the Oil & Gas Division in order to check in.  Make sure you have your ID card otherwise you won’t be able to get through the doors.  Dave is the supervisor for all interns at the RCC and most likely after you’ve checked in he will sit you down, tell you a story that could last anywhere from one to five minutes, and then send you one your merry way to get your tasks done.

Interns at the RRC have two main duties for which they are responsible; both require intensive training when interns first start at the office.  The first task is that of completing AORs and TOC calculations for the Oil & Gas Division.  It sounds complicated, but it’s really not...especially after receiving training on the Railroad Commission’s Internal GIS Viewer.  The acronym AOR stands for Area of Review while TOC stands for Top of Cement.  In Texas, when a company wants to drill a new oil/injection well they must first send in a permit application to the RRC.  The RRC will only grant permits should the well in question be found to have no negative effects on other wells within a ¼ mile radius.  This process is known as an AOR.  An intern will review a well application sent to the RRC and using the organization’s Internal GIS viewer and TOC calculator will determine whether or not the other wells within the area will be affected by the drilling of a new oil/injector well.  The intern’s supervisor will then review the work and either grant or deny the permit.

The second task assigned to interns at the RRC involves close cooperation with the GAU, which stands for the Groundwater Advisory Unit.  The GAU is full of archives that need to be digitized.  This is where the interns come in.  After receiving training on two technical programs (BlueView and P/I Dwights) the intern is properly equipped to upload the archives, which are most often old oil well readings, onto the RRCs general database so they can then be exported to a GIS program known as Petra.  In all honesty the task is a fairly easy.  Personally, I found it very intriguing as the GAU’s stacks are full of interesting information.

The RRC only requires that interns work eight hours per week, however this internship course requires a minimum of 10.  Dave is very flexible about hours and will allow interns to choose their schedule and hours as the position is unpaid.  The tasks are fairly simple and the work is interesting, and interns will certainly learn a lot during their tenure here.  Show up for your 10 hours a week and get your work done and you’ll have no problems here.  A quick word of warning, though in truth, the RRC can be a fairly lonely place.  I’m there three days a week and am crammed behind a desk working out of sight and earshot of most everyone else... I can’t say I’ve enjoyed that aspect too much.  Other than that however, the RRC has done right by me.


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    University of Texas at Austin
    FAC 18
    2304 Whitis Ave. Stop G6200
    Austin, Texas 78712-1508
    512-471-7900