SAGE 2YC > Facilitating Students' Professional Pathways > Strengthening Workforce Preparation Across Programs

Strengthening Career Preparation Across Programs

SAGE 2YC: Support Geoscience
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Preparing your students for their future careers isn't something you can do once and just check it off. Done well, it's an integral part of their education. Many different aspects of their experience - inside and outside of the classroom - can contribute to your students' professional preparation. From advising and internships to seminars and innovative curricula, the opportunities to distribute workforce preparation throughout programs are numerous and varied.

Jump Down To: Making Strong Connections Between Course Content and Career Skills | Integrating Professional Preparation into your Program

Talk to Students About Geoscience Careers

The first and most fundamental part of preparing students for careers is making sure they know about them. Many students are unfamiliar with the opportunities available to those with expertise in geoscience. Sometimes students have a negative perception of the geosciences as a whole, thinking that the available jobs are low status and low paying. Providing information about the wide array of important things that people do with geoscience knowledge (engineering, architecture, environmental management...) will help them visualize themselves making a good living in an interesting career they didn't even know existed.

SAGE 2YC: Geoscience Degrees and Careers InTeGrate: Understand Workforce Needs Strong Geo Departments: Professional Preparation

Making Strong Connections Between Course Content and Career Skills

Two-year college students have a keen focus on their college education as a means to obtain a steady and secure job. This trend is particularly strong among first-generation students. (Learn more about the motivations of first-generation 2YC students.) Thus, it can be helpful to tie course content to job skills and career goals, so students can see how their coursework is directly related to their larger aspirations. Even students who do not intend to continue in the geosciences will benefit from the topics and approaches they learn in geoscience courses. These relationships may not be readily apparent to students, so it can be helpful to emphasize career connections throughout the course. Research projects can be very powerful in helping students make and reinforce those connections.

Another benefit of this approach is that you can share insights about career pathways in the geosciences and how those careers relate to the concepts in class. Students may not be aware of the wide array of jobs in geoscience fields. The What do geoscientists do? page illustrates a variety of career possibilities and lists degree requirements and potential earnings for different jobs.

Here are some examples that highlight how skills taught in an introductory geoscience course are tied to on-the-job performance in many different fields.

Teaching Tip:
Infuse your course with examples of how the course content overlaps with geoscience careers. For example, use brief video clips or blogs that show a glimpse of the lives of professional geologists, like this series from a day in the GeoLife.
Teaching tip:
Early in the semester, instructors can point out how topics, labs, and assignments are related to career skills. As the course proceeds, ask students where they see connections between course content and their intended career path.

Cooper, C.B. (2011). Media literacy as a key strategy toward improving public acceptance of climate change science. BioScience, 61(3), 231-237.

Nomi, T. (2005). Faces of the Future: A Portrait of First-Generation Community College Students. American Association of Community Colleges.

Integrate Professional Preparation into your Program

This page from the Building Strong Geoscience Departments project showcases examples of what different institutions are doing to strengthen the professional preparation of their students in an intentional way. These presentations are all from faculty at four-year colleges and universities, but there are valuable ideas to be gleaned from them that can apply to two-year institutions.

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