Advice from your professors
Get your résumé from Prep up to date. Fix all the corrections that were given to you from your instructor, update it, and proofread it. Then give it to other students and faculty and friends to proofread. Résumés and cover letters with spelling and grammar errors will get thrown in the trash without further consideration. If you can't take the time to make your résumé presentable, then you are probably not going to be seen as a reliable worker.
Read the AGES newsletter that comes out each Monday morning from the Department Chair. Faculty forward all job announcements from our AGES alumni network to the Chair, who then includes them in the newsletter.
Use our alumni network (LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) as well as any networks you have developed independently to begin your job search. Word of mouth is far more powerful than any other search technique.
Be willing to relocate! It doesn't have to be forever, but you DO need to get your foot in the door somewhere.
Be willing to settle for something less than your dream job, especially at first. You need experience!
Online "geology job" searches are generally useless. Using the AGES alumni network, using your own network of friends (don't forget field camp friends and advisors from other universities!), talking to faculty for alumni to contact, and reading the newsletter each week for job opportunities will be a far better use of your time.
Advice from recent graduates:
- Stephen Davis '15 One of the biggest hurdles in finding a job is that often everyone looks for the job they want and not the job that will lead them to the job they want. Often that will mean moving to a new city or taking on a role not typical to your degree for a couple of years. Experience is what sells you in the job world. So any job that you take on can be used to get you the next job and that could be the ideal job for you. I work in environmental remediation things like ground water and soil sampling, hazardous site assessments, and other things associated with fixing petrochemical spills. I would add that getting your PG [professional geologist licensure] be a top priority as soon as you get into the working world; any other certifications that are relevant to your field of work are a must-have. Companies will often pay for you to get these things as they make the company look better. Learn as much as you can and diversify yourself to be able to do as much as you can. GIS is growing within the industry; people are just now discovering the power of this software and as a result are requesting that more graduates have some experience with the software. I do a lot of work in CADD since I'm the only geologist within an engineering company so having some familiarity with that would also be good.
Chesney Gilleland '09 Get well connected. Keep in touch with people you meet and don't be afraid to let them know you're looking for a job. A lot of companies have referral programs, so your friends might be better at finding you a job than you are. The working degree is the master's for a petroleum geologist, and if you want to go into oil and gas, having an internship in the summer of your master's degree is extremely important. Remember when you're interviewing that it's important to send thank you/follow up emails. Essentially - use your manners. Learn to communicate. No one cares how smart you are if you can't explain your thoughts to anyone else.
Scott Miller '14 Tap into family and friend networks within the realm of all natural sciences, not just geology. After a bit of research, I realized that there are geoscientists working for developers, timber companies, materials companies, and a myriad of local, state, and federal government agencies (as weird as it sounds, we don’t all work for either oil and gas or environmental consulting firms). Look into unconventional work, even if it’s not strictly science based. For example, there are niches for geoscience policy and resource management, geoscience education and community building, and oil/gas/mining/environmental law. It's OK not to pursue grad school right off the bat, or at all, if it's not for you. There are innumerable benefits to diving into the working world (the most important being you can start paying off loans, start saving money, and decide comfortably whether you’re on the right career path or not). Jobs can be dependent on the cyclical nature of hiring within the realm of geoscience, so be patient, keep a pulse on hiring, and find something worthwhile to do while you’re churning out those applications.
- Isaiah Reed '14 1. All certifications are relevant. If you can get them... you should. 2. If a position lists a phone number for questions - call it. 3. Make a Linkedin page and make it part of the signature section of your emails so employers can click it and give you a once over. 4. Never stop improving your résumé.
Chris Bagley '14 Get 40hr-HAZWOPER certification. Having this certification is a "must have" for the testing/sampling involved with the industry. I have friends/peers who got hired as a direct result of them having the certification; along with a background education in geology or environmental science.
Leigh Anne Roble Monroe '12 I took the 40-Hour HAZWOPER and paid for it myself. When I went into some interviews, even though it wasn't a requirement, the interviewers were impressed that I had taken that initiative to further my education with something relevant to my field. Apply for jobs outside your field of study. I did my MS in high-T geochem and got a job at the Bureau of Water in SC doing surface water modeling, but I also deal with some stuff on the permitting side. I needed the MS to get my position, but a few positions just require a BS. Definitely look for jobs at the state level, and get your PG!
Ryan Farmer '09 1) Make your résumé a living document. Don’t just update the year on the resume you made in Prep. Tailor your resume to your industry and make sure it is constantly evolving. Also know what’s on your résumé. 2) Cover letters are important. 3) Proofread. Have colleagues proofread. Proofread again. 4) Look for internships early and often 5) Don’t rely on job search engines to let you know about jobs. These are often old listings by the time anyone sees them. Go directly to the company or organization’s webpage. I think the advice "apply to a lot of places" is something worth emphasizing. Most people won't hear back from a lot of places they apply, especially straight out of school, so don't get discouraged.
Bradley Benavides '11 I recommend interviewing as much as possible. Mock interviews or real interviews. Just learn to get comfortable.
Aaron Pruitt '09 In the environmental consulting world, a master's is still generally considered the working degree, but you can sometimes get your foot in the door with a bachelor's. Certain markets are doing better than others, so being willing to move is probably the fastest/easiest way to find a job. But you can probably find something close to where you want to be. When you're looking for jobs, the job listing aggregators have listings for a lot of companies, but not all of them, so spend some time on google trying to find all the consulting companies in whichever city you want to move to. Check out their websites for job listings. Even if a company isn't hiring, you can still submit your résumé for consideration. And for the whole job application/interview process - pay attention in Prep. Build a good resume, put it on LinkedIn, tailor the résumé to the job you're applying for, don't make stupid mistakes, proofread, proofread some more, and then have someone else proofread. Your resume should be one page, max. Your cover letter should be one page, max. Apply to a lot of places. Don't expect a lot of replies. Do your research on the company so you know what they do and have questions for them prepared, be ready to talk in depth about anything on your resume. An interview isn't an oral exam, it's a conversation. You have to be knowledgeable and all, but you also have to fit into the company personality-wise.
Anna Ahlstrom '11 The importance of internships and field experience cannot be overstated (as a member of our companies recruiting team that is the first thing we look for). Extremely important is also showing passion for what you have worked on previously; be able to intelligently and concisely describe your research, field courses, internships, and work experience (what challenged you? what specifically did you learn? How did you apply it? was it a collaborative or self directed experience?). Companies are often looking for scientific curiosity and enthusiasm more than a particular skill set. Don't hesitate to apply for jobs outside of your field of study. I studied hydrology in graduate school and that was the focus of my first internship. I interned with an oil and gas company with little to no background in petroleum. On the job learning is hands down the most valuable and sought after in job candidates.
Julia Irizarry '13 I went to a geo-engineering field camp which made me much more appealing to consulting firms. Consulting firms are another way to make a comfortable amount of money working as a geologist in addition to the more traditional oil and mining routes.