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Mitchell Schroeder, a male undergraduate student, smiling and standing outdoors on the Texas A&M University campus
Undergraduate student Mitchell Schroeder has learned it takes a few knocks to open doors in petroleum engineering. | Image: Nancy Luedke/Texas A&M Engineering

"I don't want to say you're behind if you don't have an internship the summer after your sophomore year, but it definitely puts you a level above," said Mitchell Schroeder '21.

Schroeder, now a senior, certainly took it to another level to get his internship as an undergraduate student in the Harold Vance Department of Petroleum Engineering at Texas A&M University. When his offer fell through shortly after his last day of school his sophomore year, he woke at 5 a.m. the following morning to drive 8 1/2 hours to Midland, Texas. Schroeder promptly knocked on every door in the petroleum industry he could find in the downtown area until one company said they'd take him, but the internship would probably be unpaid.

"I actually ended up being paid a little bit and it was an amazing experience, but yeah, getting that first internship and getting my feet wet was a pretty big challenge," Schroeder said. "You've just got to keep your head up and keep grinding it out."

Schroeder hails from Houston. He paid a lot of attention to sports in high school until a head injury served as a wake-up call. Since he comes from a family of Aggies, he took his academics seriously after that saying he "needed to kick it in gear if I wanted to go to Texas A&M."


The cool thing about petroleum is how small it is and how tight-knit of a group. Just to be around these people every day is truly amazing.

Mitchell Schroeder

His uncle's profession and enthusiasm for working in the petroleum industry led Schroeder to focus on engineering. Going through the Entry to a Major Process in the College of Engineering allowed him to talk to students of all majors and hear their experiences on coursework, internships and future job prospects. Schroeder soon realized he also had a passion for energy and put petroleum engineering as his number one choice.

"The rest is history,” Schroeder said. “I'm just as excited now as I was three years ago. I'm oil and gas, and I love it."

Through the years, Schroeder learned the ropes from other students, took the lead in managing student chapter events, spoke in public and absorbed everything he could about his major. As an upperclassman, he's in the Petroleum Venture Certificate Program, taking classes at the Mays Business School to satisfy his additional passion for finance and listening to guest speakers from industry share their wisdom. He also gives back to other students through mentorship.

"The cool thing about petroleum is how small it is and how tight-knit of a group," Schroeder said. "Just to be around these people every day is truly amazing."

Thinking back on that trip to Midland now makes him laugh. Though Schroeder has no regrets about his initiative, he nearly ended up sleeping overnight in his car, exhausted from the drive and the job hunting,

"I always say I'm not the smartest person in the world, but I'm stubborn," Schroeder said. "I'm not going give up, and that's kind of what engineering is for the large part. As long as you don't give up you'll do fine."