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Graham Jaynes barely knew anything about natural gas when he accepted his first accounting internship with ONEOK in Tulsa—one of the largest natural gas distributors in the U.S. and a Fortune 500 company. Though Graham did not know a lot about the energy industry, he was the right student for the competitive internship, as Dr. Kelley Still says.
“Hopefully, Graham’s performance at ONEOK will open the door for more interns at their company,” she explains. “They need a lot of new people over the next few years and I hope that we can interest several Drury students in the oil and gas industry.”
Drury’s connection to ONEOK is possible through alumnus and Breech Advisory board member, Curtis Dinan. He graduated in 1989 with undergraduate degrees in accounting and business management. Curtis currently serves as senior vice president of ONEOK Partners, but he will soon become Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer of ONE Gas, a spin-off company from ONEOK. He reached out to Breech last spring for interns.
“We are looking for people who have learned how to think, not what to think. Drury’s liberal arts education, study abroad program, and real life hands-on experience sets its graduates apart from others,” Curtis says.
This summer, Graham worked indirectly with Curtis’ department, close to his field of study.
“I was in gathering and processing—specifically in the accounting department. A lot of the day-to-day routines dealt with account reconciliations and the minor details of the accounting cycle,” Graham explains. “But for the most part, I got split up into different work groups and put on specialized tasks—a lot of that dealing with other projects they were working on.”
Curtis says accounting students, like Graham, contribute to accounting assignments similar to what they learn in the classroom. They also complete larger tasks where they are asked to review, analyze, or update projects, give their input, and present their findings.
“I’d say overall, like the day-to-day cycle, it reinforced some of the things that I had learned through accounting. The most valuable thing I learned was the importance of once you’re in a field, once you’re in an accounting position, you’re going to be doing the same type of work as you would be doing with any business. I think the thing to really take away from it is to learn the industry in and out,” Graham says.
For any student who is working with a product or service they aren’t familiar with, Graham has one piece of advice: read about it and talk to people. Before Graham started working with ONEOK, he read about natural gas.
“While I was there, I took advantage of every [piece of] reading material and everybody that was willing to talk about the industry [to] really understand the value chain—from the moment that they’re connecting well-heads and sucking gas out of the ground and what has to happen in order to get a final product at a burner tip somewhere,” he says.
Graham was the first Drury student to complete ONEOK’s internship program, and he hopes to see more students join in.
“Being such a strong company and as it is positioned to grow, a lot of students could benefit from a Drury connection with ONEOK,” he explains.
Graham completed his internship at ONEOK in August, but before he left, ONEOK extended an invitation to come back next summer.
“Graham did a great job for us and represented himself and the university very well,” Curtis at ONEOK says. “It was a pleasure having him as part of our team this summer.”
Graham adds, “I owe a lot of thanks to [Dr. Still] and Mr. Curtis. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have known about ONEOK. I loved working in the natural gas industry, learning about it. It’s been a lot of fun just for the three months.”
Graham is currently a senior at Drury. He expects to graduate by May 2015 with undergraduate degrees in accounting and finance.