Jennifer Weber Erich – Class of 1991
In a series of interviews with notable alumni about their experiences at Assumption, we recently caught up with 1991 graduate Jennifer Weber Erich, Strategic Relationship Manager at ExxonMobil.
What are you doing now?
I’ve been a geologist for ExxonMobil searching the globe for oil and gas. Now I am in my dream job, the Strategic Relationship Manager for ExxonMobil’s Exploration Company. It’s a focus on networking externally with other oil companies and host governments in order to partner with them in new opportunities. I am one of the more extroverted people in my company, so this is a natural fit for me.
How did you land your current job at ExxonMobil?
I got two degrees in Geology, my Bachelor of Science at Northern Iowa, and then my Masters at the University of Iowa. While I was wrapping up my thesis at Iowa, the Exxon recruiter came to campus and so I decided to sign up for an interview. I was then offered an internship in the spring of 1999, and then a full-time position a year later. Now I help with recruiting and go out to universities to interview students, so I completely understand the position that they are in!
What made you want to go into Geology?
When I was a kid, my family went camping a lot, so to me, hiking and rock collecting was really fun! Then as I progressed through school, I always had really high grades in math and science. When I took Sr. Donna’s earth science class, all the kids wanted to be my lab partner since I was the top student in the class. I figured that a Geology degree would be the best fit for me, since I had the skills. My Dad told me to do whatever I loved the most, and success would follow – and I loved Geology the most.
What is a typical day like for a Geologist?
There are many different types of jobs for Geologists: environmental, mining, government work, construction, teaching, park service, etc. I chose to be a Petroleum Geoscientist because the technology was really advancing and I could travel all over the world. So, in my world I have a team that I work with every day in the office to look at data and make maps to explore for oil and gas. It is mostly computer and office based, although sometimes we have to go out to the sites for additional data.
What do you enjoy most about your career as a Geologist?
In my mind, it is the top science. It incorporates all the sciences; so you have to know chemistry, physics, biology, computer science and advanced mathematics. I also love to travel the world. I’ve been to over 30 countries and counting!
What are some of the things you learned at Assumption?
Of course I learned a lot about academics and my Catholic faith, but I matured a lot while I was there. I was an awkward, science and theatre nerd. But I learned how to shake off the drama, focus on school and just be kind to people. That’s really how people remember you.
What are a few of your favorite memories from your time at Assumption?
I was in KKD for three years, and was captain my senior year. I loved making up routines and teaching the other girls. But my favorite routine was the one I taught the senior guys to dance for the Homecoming Pep Rally. No one had ever done that before, but I wanted to have a little fun and do something different for my last year in high school. So I picked the most fun/cool guys from my senior class and secretly taught them a hysterical routine. I was so proud of how well they did!
Looking back on your time at Assumption, what are some of the experiences that helped prepare you for what you’re doing now?
One of my best “life skills” I learned was in Mr. Watson’s drama classes. I was in all the high school plays and musicals. I loved singing and dancing on stage. It helped me so much with my confidence in public speaking, when I present to presidents or foreign oil ministers, I never get nervous because it’s just like a performance.
Who were some of the biggest influences during your time at Assumption?
Definitely Sr. Donna and Mr. Watson! I also loved Mr. Wolfe’s way of teaching; he was hysterical and really challenged us in math. He would yell “2 points!” at us if we answered correctly.
What suggestions or advice do you have for students who may want to pursue a career in Geology?
Take all the math and science classes you can! Learn calculus! While I don’t use it in “real life”, I certainly needed to pass it in college. So learn it early and take the highest levels you can. Also, get outdoors as often as you can. Take trips to the National Parks. Immerse yourself in amazing geologic landscapes, and then you will be familiar with the concepts when you take the classes.
Do you have any last words of encouragement for the Class of 2018?
If you still don’t know what you want to be when you grow up, don’t worry! Take a variety of classes and follow your best grades. Challenge yourself; don’t just take the easy classes. But my father was right, follow your passion and no matter what you do you will be successful. Then work doesn’t feel like work!
Thanks, Jennifer. We appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule for the interview. Congratulations on all the great work you’re doing!