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Interview With Mouna-Keltoum Benabid

ALWIS Petroleum Engineering Community led by Nina Chalah hosted Mouna-Keltoum Benabid for a live event on Instagram. Mouna-Keltoum is an Algerian Petroleum Engineer who's pursuing a Ph.D. in Colorado, USA. Nina Chalah interviewed Keltoum for ALWIS and spoke with her about scholarship opportunities in USA for Algerian Petroleum Engineering graduates.

  • Who is Keltoum?

I am Mouna-Keltoum Benabid. I would say that I am an Algerian woman passionate about the petroleum field for the challenges this great industry presents!

  • ​​​​​Can you tell us about your background and how did you get a fully funded scholarship in the US?

​​It’s been exactly three years since I graduated from the Faculty of Hydrocarbons and Chemistry at the University of Boumerdes, Algeria. I received a master’s in Petroleum Geophysics. After graduation, I joined Schlumberger as a field engineer. Currently, I am a Petroleum Engineering Ph.D. student at Colorado School of Mines, USA.

I applied to the program online. The application requires some tests (English proficiency test, GRE ...etc.) and documents (transcripts, recommendation letter...etc.). Then, I was called for an interview and was offered the opportunity to work as a researcher on a fully-funded project. From SLB to Mines, I started thinking that I am always happy to be blue blood during my career!

  • How was your first immersion in an American university?

I think that things went very smoothly for the first immersion. I would acknowledge the efforts of the professors, staff, classmates, and friends at the university. The environment is motivating, and the learning quality is particularly amazing. The university is committed to supporting a safe and engaging campus environment that allows all students to find success academically and socially. It provides many opportunities to get involved and make lifelong friends. This helped me feel at home!

  • What are the skills to succeed in a Ph.D. program in the US?

I believe all Ph.D. programs worldwide require Ph.D. students or candidates to have specific skills. In my opinion, common skills would be communication, leadership, and commitment. Dealing with deadlines is an important part. Technically, Ph.D. students should be problem solvers and critical thinkers with some research management skills.

Also, motivation is a great asset, but it needs consistency in work. This involves probably some self-management skills. Finally, I think that any Ph.D. program is pretty known for its stressful nature. Therefore, students should be careful about their mental health and maintain a healthy work-life balance which is hard but doable! This is another good point to reveal that the university has many resources to help manage all of this. You might consider as well some yoga sessions and meditation techniques!

  • Research or Field?

This was the hardest part of my interview with Tarik Bodjoghra, Schlumberger NAF Recruiter, when I was hired as a trainee! From my short experience in the field and the exposure, I could get. I think that it is high time for research. I enjoy the challenging nature of life as a researcher, the suspense about the outcomes, and the absence of monotony. I believe that I go with this principle ‘’ I enjoy things that make my learning curve grow.’’

  • Anything to add?

This is probably something I always add! Networking skills. The opportunities are always present. You just would need to build a network strong enough to secure them. I will also take advantage of this blog to thank all the people who supported and still support me in my career. Special thanks go to Mohammed Kelkouli.

_by Nina Chalah; ALWIS Petroleum Community Leader

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