Entry-Level Natural Gas Scheduler

Mr. T's picture
Rank: Baboon | banana points 102

So I know this isn't exactly "trading" but I couldn't find a commodities section on here and in terms of commodities I like to think of it as my first step in my career to becoming an actual trader. I know when I was applying and trying to search information I was unable to find a lot of commodity trading/scheduling posts (there are a few but most are pretty dated) so thought I'd post something up for those of you interested, feel free to reach out to me with any questions as well and i'll try to answer them best I can although I have just started my journey.

Anyways, I have finally secured myself a full-time position as a natural gas scheduler for a large multi-national O&G company here in the North East United States.

Surprisingly originally applied online to the position after finding a scheduling role that required 0-1 years of actual experience vs the usual 3+ (no alumni connection/networking here and I actually can say I "got a job by applying online" lol) and went through the usual phone screening with HR/recruiter, phone screening with hiring manager, in person interview with hiring manager and HR recruiter, and final interview with the entire head of mid stream trading/ops for NA. All in all very relaxed and enjoyable interview never once had to go through any technical tests and was asked mostly "Fit", "Back Story", and "Why?" driven questions throughout the process.

I will stress that I didn't just wake up and apply to this position with no experience straight out of undergrad, it's something i've wanted for quite a few years. I have been gathering experience with whatever internships I could find throughout undergrad as well as my graduate degree (I went the straight to graduate school from undergrad route, but that's a separate story in and of itself). My best advice to any of you regardless of what you ultimately want to end up doing for your career is to take ANY and EVERY internship opportunity you can possibly get that is even remotely in your field of interest and start as early as possible. Always be working if possible. I worked part-time 20hrs a week during the semester 40hrs during the summer all throughout my entire graduate program and I absolutely recommend this to anyone that has the chance or goes to school in a big city/area with lots of companies. It shows you can balance your work and that you're able to put in long hours and are hard working. Employers eat that kind of stuff up.

Also, and I hate to say this but name does matter, people like seeing Glencore, Shell, BP, Vitol, Mercuria, Trafigura, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan etc. a lot better than "X" boutique, Bobs Bunkering, or Billy's Brokerage Company. I am by no means knocking small firms, heck that's where I started with my first few internships and they often times provide the best learning experiences but Big names grab attention especially when trying to break into other Big name companies. I was able to get a few Big name companies on my resume, not necessarily in "big time" positions but to most people just glancing over your resume those big names stand out. Even if you had to be a transfer pricing analyst or worked in compliance or some BO type role at some big name firm for the summer/one semester (nothing against transfer pricing but it's just honestly not for me) DO IT even if just for that name, heck you can put your were in the finance department and were a financial analyst or something, spice it up as long as you're not flat out lying. Just getting your foot in the door and being humble will get you farther than you can possibly imagine as well and being able to network within the company and try and move up or into a different role is always easier once you're inside.

In terms of getting internships it really comes down to just networking networking networking even more so than full-time positions (my personal opinion). Nobody expects an intern to know jack shit about what they are doing and it's all down to someone just giving you a shot. People like to give other people they know or someone they know knows a shot it's just how the world works. Talk to your friends parents, fellow classmates, alumni etc. I can without a doubt say that every single internship I have had (besides one) was from one of the three categories I mentioned above. Once you've gotten that first internship just keep pushing and applying and trying to get closer to the actual job/industry you want.

It wasn't until my final internship the last semester before I graduated that I actually landed an internship in the commodities field (i.e. ABCD firm). And that internship didn't even have anything to do with actual "trading/ops". It was on the financing side of the business and dealt with a special financing project the firm was trying to role out but it allowed me to gain enough understanding of many of the different terms in the industry and how actual physical commodities trading works (albeit from the financing side). The role was completely by chance through a former alumni who was looking for someone to create models, crunch numbers and run correlation/regressions in excel looking at basis risk/VaR for different routes/commodities and whatever other random things my boss could think of. The position explicitly stated that it would not turn into a full-time offer and would last until whenever my boss had no more use for me. I took it without a second thought and stayed there over 9 months. I watched other interns come and go but kept my head down and kept grinding and learning (the money was also nice think BB but not BB hours). My boss was an ex IB/PE/HF guy and his partner was an ex Oil trader turned Trade Finance guy. Between the two of them I learned a lot.

Anyways they allowed me to stay on after a graduated while I continued to look for a full-time position (yeah I graduated without a FT offer). As I said in the beginning was recently extended official offer few days ago and quickly accepted (I did interview with a few other firms and did receive another offer but rejected it for offer I took that was head and shoulder above the other). All in all well above and beyond what I had expected compensation wise. Not going to break it down here but more or less near low six figure compensation all in with 100% health/vision/dental benefits. Never give up and always keep grinding hard work and perseverance eventually pays off. Cheers.

Investment Banking Interview Course

  • 7,548 questions across 469 investment banks. Crowdsourced from over 500,000 members.
  • Technical, behavioral, networking, case videos, templates. All included.
  • Most comprehensive IB interview course in the world.

Comments (27)

Aug 25, 2017

Congratulations on the offer.
I've had a lot of interviews in the past, and the most engaging ones in my opinion were not technical related questions but more about 'fit'.

Aug 25, 2017
UnfinishedSentenc:

Congratulations on the offer.
I've had a lot of interviews in the past, and the most engaging ones in my opinion were not technical related questions but more about 'fit'.

Thank You, and yes I have to say the best interviews for me are where it comes across as more of a conversation and not someone grilling you the whole time.

Aug 25, 2017

Great post, thanks.

    • 1
Aug 25, 2017

Currently working at an ABCD firm. Phys trading is such an underrated career. Thanks for the post.

Aug 25, 2017
JimmyRecard:

Currently working at an ABCD firm. Phys trading is such an underrated career. Thanks for the post.

Yes, especially in undergrad unless you go to certain schools phyz commodity trading is rarely if even touched on at all as part of finance/economics degrees. I know in the large state school I went to the most we learned about commodities was gold/oil futures and that's it. I find it to be definitely one of the most interesting career choices, especially for someone who is interested in trading and global finance/macro concepts, and something I wish I had known more about early in school.

Learn More

Side-by-side comparison of top modeling training courses + exclusive discount through WSO here.

Sep 8, 2017

All i can say is stick with it and soak up as much as you can. The doldrums of being a scheduler can get to you pretty fast, but do your best to be an asset to your trader and always show an interest in what they are doing. 95% of all traders came from the same seat you are in and want to help you come up.

Sep 12, 2017
billsyall:

All i can say is stick with it and soak up as much as you can. The doldrums of being a scheduler can get to you pretty fast, but do your best to be an asset to your trader and always show an interest in what they are doing. 95% of all traders came from the same seat you are in and want to help you come up.

Appreciate the advice, just trying to learn as much as I can.

    • 1
Sep 12, 2017

which pipes are you on?

Sep 18, 2017

Just starting the position but will let you know once I do. I will be working in the NE dealing mainly with Marcellus Shale region.

    • 1
Sep 26, 2017

dominion baby

Sep 29, 2017
nattyphizz:

dominion baby

Won't be starting out on it :P but we def schedule/trade on it

    • 1
Oct 6, 2017

Learn the monster that is TGP as soon as you can. If you have any questions along the way or need some direction, I am happy to help. I scheduled the NE for a while too.

Oct 7, 2017
billsyall:

Learn the monster that is TGP as soon as you can. If you have any questions along the way or need some direction, I am happy to help. I scheduled the NE for a while too.

Thanks, will be doing a sort of rotation between the different seasoned schedulers on the desk and will be exposed to the different pipes they each schedule on coming up. Believe next week will be looking at some DOM and REX but not 100% sure. We def schedule a lot on TGP and will let you know if I have any questions that you might be able to answer when get to it. Really appreciate your willingness to help.

    • 1
Learn More

Side-by-side comparison of top modeling training courses + exclusive discount through WSO here.

Sep 14, 2017

Congrats that sounds like a solid role for learning from the ground up.

Im EU based - does that comp. include bonus? And if so is that standard sort of comp in the US? Sounds good to me, but hard to know without adjusting for cost of living etc.

Sep 18, 2017

Thanks, yes all in comp is including bonus but not 401k match, stock options, pension etc. which of course add to the overall benefit package. For those of you interested, In terms of a better idea the base salary was towards the higher end of average natural gas schedule salaries you could look up on glassdoor. https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/natural-gas-sch...
I would say it is around standard for the region if a bit on the higher side for someone with 0-1 years experience. I was honestly expecting a bit less to be honest and was pleasantly surprised. Of course you have to take into account the cost of living vs. somewhere like Texas etc. where a $50-55k salary is pretty comparable to a $65-70k salary in New York. I know this site likes to think mainly in terms of IB salaries so put it towards the lower end of the average IB salary in the NE but with about 1/2 the hours.

Do you work in nat gas in EU? I know a few individuals who work in physical commodity trading houses mainly in the Geneva area, beautiful place although pretty much as expensive if not more so than the NE US. Shoot me a PM.

    • 1
Nov 24, 2017

Late response, but congrats on the scheduling gig. Hope you've been enjoying it. I started scheduling midcon pipes for a small shop here in the SE about a year ago after I finished up my undergrad and have been loving it.

Nov 27, 2017

Thanks definitely enjoying it, learning a ton. Congrats on your gig as well, we don't really trade/schedule on midcon but sounds like a solid position right out of undergrad.

    • 1
Nov 27, 2017

Very interesting post!

Could you talk a bit more about your day to day tasks or the tasks you expect to be doing as you haven't started yet?

Also, how would you expect the transition into a trading role to happen?

Any opinion on differences between EU/NA career progression? How many people working with you are from outside the US/Canada?

Trying hard to prepare myself in the best possible way for a career in physical commodity trading, so every bit of information is helpful!

Many thanks,

Lamer

Nov 27, 2017

Could you talk a bit more about your day to day tasks or the tasks you expect to be doing as you haven't started yet? - Only been on the job ~2 months so am still learning things. My own personal day to day tasks currently are mainly running/generating different daily as well as month end reports while I learn the systems both internally and externally that we use. I have also been shadowing different schedulers to learn different pipelines and how to navigate the different Electronic Bulletin Boards (EBBs) and our internal systems we use to schedule and account for the gas we schedule. I have done some basic scheduling for base load contracts we have on certain pipelines, which basically entails contacting the scheduler at the counter party we sold gas to and confirming the delivery point(or points) they want the gas delivered, which for base-load contracts its usually the same point/points each day. Going into the EBB and nominating the gas to flow on our contract, which is more or less just rolling forward the previous days nom and possibly changing a del point.

Once I get up to speed my general day to day tasks will be scheduling gas for my set of pipelines every morning and working with the trader who will be buying/selling gas on the pipes I cover. Making sure traders are up to date on any issues or constraints on the pipes and making sure all gas is scheduled/flowing and alerting traders to any cuts that may be made. We have several schedulers and each scheduler takes 3-4 different pipelines that they are responsible for scheduling gas on and we rotate every few months between them in order to stay up to date with/learn how to schedule on them all.

Also, how would you expect the transition into a trading role to happen? - Transitioning to a trading role is mostly "right place, right time". Of course being upfront and letting management know your ultimate aspirations helps. Being a scheduler you sit with and work directly with the traders on the desk. Your job is to make sure everything is working correctly operationally and to make their lives as easy as possible. As such, you spend a lot of time working together which can afford you the opportunity to ask question about certain things and learn from them. Most physical gas traders have done at least a few years of scheduling in their early years. Scheduling allows you to really learn how everything comes together operationally from start to finish which is extremely beneficial in physical commodity trading.

Any opinion on differences between EU/NA career progression? How many people working with you are from outside the US/Canada? - I was born and raised in the US and have never worked in the EU so I cannot really comment on the differences between EU/NA career progression but I would think they are pretty similar just from speaking with people I know who work in the EU. Each company is different though. The company I work for is actually headquartered outside of NA (I work for their NA arm). We have a lot of individuals working in our office who were born outside of the US. The majority of upper-level management is foreign born and I believe if I so desired to progress to an upper level management position, and not a trading type role, I would probably be hampered in that regard. As an entry level employee this doesn't really concern me too much. My entire trading desk, with the exception of one individual, is from the US.

    • 1
Nov 28, 2017

Didn't expect such an extensive answer, thanks for doing this! It can be challenging to obtain information about careers in the commodity sector, at least compared to the abundance of information on purely financial roles.

I think I am in a similar position as you were a couple years ago. I'm currently interning in the metal procurement department of a producer of intermediate goods, mainly to gain access to people who are well connected in the metal markets as well as getting familiar with hedging.

Which kind of internships did you complete in order to enhance your profile? Which helped the most? Were they all focused on NG or also other commodities?

Also, do you feel like there are similar positions in other industries (ags and metals especially)? Rule of thumb there would be proximity to the actual traders, but I feel like this can be deceiving.

You mentioned your postgrad education, how important would you consider academics in this context? I often read that they are neglected by recruiters in the commodity industry, but when I check my LinkedIn (EU of course), most of the traders seem to come straight from the top universities.

Best regards

Nov 28, 2017
Dalai_lamer:

Didn't expect such an extensive answer, thanks for doing this! It can be challenging to obtain information about careers in the commodity sector, at least compared to the abundance of information on purely financial roles.

I think I am in a similar position as you were a couple years ago. I'm currently interning in the metal procurement department of a producer of intermediate goods, mainly to gain access to people who are well connected in the metal markets as well as getting familiar with hedging.

Which kind of internships did you complete in order to enhance your profile? Which helped the most? Were they all focused on NG or also other commodities?

Also, do you feel like there are similar positions in other industries (ags and metals especially)? Rule of thumb there would be proximity to the actual traders, but I feel like this can be deceiving.

You mentioned your postgrad education, how important would you consider academics in this context? I often read that they are neglected by recruiters in the commodity industry, but when I check my LinkedIn (EU of course), most of the traders seem to come straight from the top universities.

Best regards

No problem, I know when I was looking around for information there really wasn't much so i'd like to think of it as my way of providing some insight I wish I had access to. Sounds like a solid internship to get yourself a bit familiar with commodities markets and show you have an interest in the business.

In terms of my own internships I never held a specific "NG" type internship. I was a general finance major in undergrad and was always interested in "trading". I started right away my first year of undergrad with internships that first summer. My first internship had nothing to do with commodities. I interned at a small community bank summer of my 1st year doing nothing related to commodities or trading. From there I did a study abroad/language immersion program the following summer as part of my minor. This got me more interested in global trade/macro products and I was able to secure an internship my 3rd year with a brokerage firm in their FX group. The internship further solidified my interest in more macro level products. Decided I wanted to pursue my masters in Economics + Politics to obtain a better more fundamental understanding of global trade/finance/politics. While pursuing my graduate degree interned throughout the whole 2 year program. Did a 1 year internship at BB bank in their finance dept. Left that and did an unpaid semester long internship in Gov agency (just to see if i'd like it...I didn't...definitely interesting and got to work with a lot of really nice/smart people but more "compliancy" and not for me). After that got an internship the last semester before I graduated in an actual commodity related field (trade finance) with one of the big ABCD firms. Applied to and interviewed with several different companies for FT positions while finishing up my degree + internship and ultimately obtained and accepted my full-time offer I have now.

My postgrad and even undergrad education have very little if any "direct" application to my current job or really most jobs/internships I have had for that matter (my personal opinion and I can rant on this forever). You can schedule NG with a high school education if you could find a place to hire you. You really use a small percent of what you actually learn in school in the real world in terms of finance/trading type of jobs from my own personal experiences. Knowing excel, basic arithmetic/attention to detail, how financial markets actually work (something universities are horrible at teaching), and how to pick up different systems and learn things quickly are really all you "need" to know. I'm a big proponent of the apprenticeship approach and believe in real world experience > academics which is what I think Europe does A LOT better in their educational system compared with the US. In my experience in the US the educational system is mainly wrote memorization and regurgitation and theories as opposed to actual practical applications of what you are learning. Not to say it is completely worthless academics and theories have their place and provide a good base. It does indirectly show employers you have a better capacity to learn/pick things up and are a harder worker. The company I work for also puts a very high preference on hiring students with masters degrees and often times requires it for certain entry level positions within the firm, but in general this isn't the case.

I don't have any experience with metals but I did deal with ag products from a trade finance perspective and it definitely helps to be exposed to the physical side of commodity trading regardless of the product. It wasn't extremely applicable as with ag trading I was dealing with trading by ships and the financing of that as opposed to NG which is moved through pipelines. But just being exposed to general contracts/pricing and the different risk analysis I did in terms of VaR modeling and other analysis shows competence and interest in the industry which can be applied across products and sounds good when you talk about it in interviews.

Anyways, another long reply but I hope it helps. You already seem like you are ahead of the game and have what seems like a pretty solid internship that you can leverage into other internships/jobs within the industry. Just keep using every internship you get as a stepping stone towards what you ultimately want to do and keep building your resume. Like you said just try and learn as much as you can and build out your network. Trying to get in contact or ask questions of any of the traders at the firm you're interning with also never hurts. As long as you bring up intelligent questions most traders should be willing to spend some time talking with you. Best of Luck!

    • 1
Nov 30, 2017

Nice to get that kind of positive feedback, let's see what will happen during the coming years.

I am always amazed by the sheer amount of internships the American student completes during his studies. On my side of the pond, or at least in Germany/NL, it's close to impossible to randomly intern during the year if your program doesn't specifically require you to do so. Have one more internship planned next year, and will try to squeeze one in between my bachelor and master, but I think this is already a fairly unusual amount of internships.

As with the education, I feel you. Especially in Germany, apprenticeships are a big thing, but I still think they don't get the credit they deserve. Guess you need your entry ticket, aka bachelor, to get any somewhat decent job.

Anyway, thanks again for taking your time to go over this in such detail, this is all really interesting!

Best regards

Nov 30, 2017

No problem, glad it helped.

Nov 30, 2017

great desk to start on.. the ne is a great area to be in... learn all you can and network as many of your counterparts schl with you will end up trading the same pipes one day

Nov 30, 2017

Thanks monty, your posts were a great source of information on here when I was looking for FT positions/interviewing. Definitely an exciting desk with great group of traders/schedulers so far and looking forward to learning as much as I can.

Nov 30, 2017

"The markets are always changing , and they are always the same."

Nov 30, 2017