Hydrogeologist, Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey
Carol Ormand interviewed Ken Bradbury for the 2007 workshop on the Role of Departments in Preparing Future Geoscience Professionals. This interview is one in a collection intended to provide insights into the hiring needs of various geoscience employment sectors. We hope that knowing these needs will guide geoscience departments in preparing students for their future careers. For additional perspectives, please see the other interviews in the collection. The opinions expressed below are those of Ken Bradbury, not of the Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey.
As a member of the staff at the WGNHS, Ken is often involved in the hiring process. The Survey hires employees at several different levels, including student hourlies, research assistants, and professional staff (such as geologists and technicians). This page focuses on what makes a good candidate for a technician position, which requires at least a Bachelors degree in geoscience. (On average, the Survey has a professional opening only about once a year.)
Desirable Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities
Geoscience knowledgeA technician at the Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey needs a strong foundation in basic geology. In addition, field experience is a real plus, especially any experience installing field equipment or conducting geophysical surveys.
Other skills and abilitiesGeoscience knowledge, while essential, is not sufficient by itself. To be a successful technician for the WGNHS, one also needs to
- be able to manage a project independently (the Survey conducts projects all over the state of Wisconsin)
- be good at solving problems on the fly
- be computer savvy -- be able to use spreadsheets and word processors, but also be comfortable learning new software or other computer-related tools
- have excellent writing skills
- be responsible
Ken expects technicians to have to learn some skills on the job. For example, entry-level employees don't generally already know how to operate a drill rig or program and operate a data logger.
How to Stand Out from the Competition
While most applicants for jobs at the WGNHS have excellent computer skills and strong backgrounds in geology, those who stand out are the ones who also have strong writing skills and some knowledge of hydrogeology or geophysics. In addition, Ken is always on the lookout for people with interpersonal skills. Because the WGNHS is connected to the University of Wisconsin - Extension, and serves the state of Wisconsin, employees need to be adept at communicating with the public, with representatives of other state agencies, and with the state legislature. Finally, because the Survey is a relatively small organization, employees must be able to get along with each other.