Field Geologist, Resource International. Ltd.
Carol Ormand interviewed Karla Hunt for the 2007 workshop on the Role of Departments in Preparing Future Geoscience Professionals. Karla is a recently-hired geoscience professional, and provides her perspective as an employee on her educational preparation for her career. 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.
Karla Hunt graduated from the College of William and Mary with a Bachelors degree in geology in May of 2005, and currently works as a field geologist for an environmental consulting firm. Her main job responsibilities consist of collecting and analyzing soil and water samples, conducting infiltration tests, and writing reports.
Desirable Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities
Geoscience knowledgeKarla uses several areas of her undergraduate education in geology on a day-to-day basis in her job, including stratigraphy, sedimentology (conducting sieve tests on soil samples), and hydrogeology (conducting infiltration tests). More generally, Karla recognizes that her training in geology provides a solid understanding of geological processes, which allows her to understand why she does what she does, and why she does it the way she does it.
Karla has had to learn some things on the job. For instance, she did not attend a field camp, so she had had to learn how to do field work on the fly. Her employer has also trained her in the use of some technical equipment.
Other skills and abilities
This is not Karla's first career; she came to her current position with experience in project management. In addition, the geology program at the College of William and Mary provided her with excellent opportunities to hone her writing and oral presentation skills, which have proven invaluable.
Advice to Job Applicants
Karla offers two pieces of advice to job applicants that are not directly related to educational preparation. First, she suggests that applicants look and act the part of a professional. This includes dressing up for an interview -- even if one will not need to dress up for the job if one is hired. She has seen candidates for field geology positions not get hired, in part because they did not dress professionally. Second, she suggests that candidates think through in advance what they will say during the salary negotiation process. Negotiation can be a tricky business; Karla felt that her own salary negotiation went much better when she was prepared for it.