The Polished Professional Pt 1

This Oil Will Make You Sleepy

I would like to tell some short stories about my work experiences. 

The people. 

The money. 

The bosses. 

The co-workers. 

The work. 

I will start with this one … (this is a true story as remembered by the author) 

As a senior at Booker T. Washington/High School for Engineering Professions, (Yes, my high school has 2 names. Yes, I went to both of them and yes, I’ve secured papers to prove it) I applied for a program called INROADS. This is a career development program that still exists today and technically I am officially an alumni. I was elated to be accepted; receiving mentoring, career guidance workshops, and most importantly – assistance in securing a summer internship. Maybe one day I will write about my experiences in high school, if I can remember that far back. 

Born and raised in Houston, Texas but planning to escape (read … go away to college – far, far, far, far away) from what I called ‘Texas Tea’ a term of sometimes endearment but most times not of the antiquated ways and means of some Texans. As a reminder this was 1997 and in my 17 year old mind, I had a vision for my life that would  take me beyond the lone star state borders and into the hypothetical cultured world. Going away to college in Nashville, TN at Tennessee State University was a big achievement for me and one that made my family proud. A summer internship in Houston though, would ensure that I could come home for the summer and spend quality time with family and friends while learning how to be a professional and earning a paycheck. 

The summer after I graduated from high school in 1998, I secured a position with Texaco, Inc. working in a typical office building, with regular business hours, and learning about the Oil and Gas Industry (the other Texas Tea). I don’t remember much about the beginning of this internship besides that the pay was great – I was earning about $18/hr. I was given tasks working in a lab testing samples of oil that Texaco extracted from the earth or from the ocean. When the oil is extracted or sucked out of the earth or the ocean it brings rocks and other sediments. Texaco then uses some chemical reactions to separate the oil out so that it can be useful (read … that’s the part they sell). 

Well, I was testing new chemicals in the lab and recording the separation times and reporting which chemicals worked the fastest. At that time my declared major was Petroleum Engineering, it is important to also note here that Tennessee State University does not have a Petroleum Engineering major or academic department. I had shenanigans for sure but I also had my reasons. 

Nonetheless, as my internship chugged along that summer in 1998, I grew increasingly bored. I mean bored like I started taking 2 hour lunches and closing my lab door so I could take ‘power naps’. The lab I was working in was very small and I had a similarly small office a few doors down from the lab. I would go in the lab and test the samples and go back down to my office to wait while they processed. The truth was I didn’t like the work very much. My reaction was the most unprofessional – napping and taking company time to eat long gourmet lunches. Well as you can probably guess, Texaco FIRED me. Bye Bye Sophoria. This was not my first job, but it was my first time I was ever fired. I was crushed but not defeated, I mean I had to get ready to move to Tennessee to start my freshman year of college. I was grateful that they were gracious enough to allow me to complete the summer as they fired me on my last day of the internship. I listed this job on my resume for many years until at least 2007 when I started graduate school and my resume transitioned into a CV. It was there more as a reminder of what not to do and how not to behave at work. 

Now, I pride myself on being a polished professional. 

This was not always the case. 

In the summer of 1998, I was a very much, an unpolished professional. 

-Sophoria Westmoreland 

Image by Michal Jarmoluk from Pixabay 

One thought on “The Polished Professional Pt 1

  1. Anita Renee Westmoreland says:

    Some times we have to go backwards before we can move forward in the right way.
    Thanks for sharing
    Love you much


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s