Finance Student Discovers Passion for Oil and Gas at Valero Energy
Growing up in Houston Tomas Alvarado’s passion for the oil and gas industry came naturally. Alvarado originally thought he wanted to pursue a career in petroleum engineering, but instead found his true calling in business.
“I enjoy corporate finance the most,” said Alvarado, who will graduate with his B.B.A. in finance this December. “In that role you understand how to make the biggest impact for a company.”
Connections he developed through the college’s Investment Society and the Forum of Finance helped him secure a dream internship with Valero Energy Corporation. As a member of the Forum of Finance, he completed a company analysis of Valero, which provided him with background information on the company.
Then, through the Investment Society he had the opportunity to meet with recruiters from Valero and learn about an upcoming case competition they were hosting. He went on to win the case competition and received an offer to serve as a marketing and supply intern with their Mexico division this summer.
“I received the internship offer last fall,” said Alvarado, a native of El Salvador. “Knowing that the internship would entail an understanding of logistics and operations, I decided to also pursue a minor in management science to better prepare.”
Alvarado credits a supply chain/logistics class taught by Professor Kefeng Xu with helping him understand how a supply chain works as well as learning how to develop different models to make the process more efficient. He also found his corporate finance and risk management classes invaluable.
“My background in management science helped me gain insight into the operations side of the business,” he said. “I was able to understand the value and competitive advantage that Valero has due to their supply-driven business model in Mexico.”
In the midst of the pandemic, he began an in-person internship with the company in June. “Interns were assigned a real world project involving an issue that Valero was facing. My project consisted of creating solutions to monitor contract compliance in Valero’s wholesale-branded contracts in Mexico.”
Alvarado’s project quickly expanded into three separate projects. The first project was to develop a method to monitor the prices for Valero-branded gasoline in Mexico as well as their competitors. His second project was to create a monitoring tool to measure the gas station tank levels and match them to the station’s pump sales data. His final task was to develop an invoicing system for commercial buyers.
When his internship was completed this summer, he received two offers from Valero: an ongoing internship position this fall and a full-time offer as a commercial operations and wholesale analyst after he graduates.
Working 40 hours a week now, Alvarado completed his first project over the summer, but is finalizing details on the other two. “During my internship I took the initiative to connect with our team in Mexico and other third party vendors to find solutions for these problems. I’ve learned a lot, but there is so much more to know about the oil and gas industry.”
As he finishes his final semester at UTSA, Alvarado encourages other students to get involved in student organization and pursue internship opportunities.
“Just having a degree is not enough,” he said. “Companies offer internships to see how students think and how they perform in real-world scenarios. The experiences I gained in the College of Business taught me how to apply my education and gave me an edge.”