Career Profile: Cindy Martinez

Careers and Outreach Program Coordinator for the American Geological Institute (in Alexandria, VA)

Education:B.A.: Geology, minor in Education, Middlebury College, 1996; Ph.D.: in progress, Stanford University; expected completion: 2006.
Cindy Martinez provided the information for this profile in January, 2006.

Jump down to: Description of current position * Career path * Advice for graduate students

Description of current position

I am the Careers and Outreach Program Coordinator for the American Geological Institute in Alexandria, Virginia. On the careers side, I help collect and interpret data about the current Geoscience Workforce and careers in the Earth Sciences, and run AGI's Academic and Corporate Associates Programs. For outreach, I coordinate programs for students, teachers and the general public, such as Earth Science Week, and AGI's Minority Participation Program.

What do you like best about your current work?

I help to bridge the gap between Geoscientists and the public, and also help connect people within the field, such as professors and industry employees.

What is most challenging about your current work?

I juggle several big programs at once, which keeps me very busy.

Which experiences that you had before do you find most useful in doing your job?

Attending scientific meetings helped me learn to make connections and network-a big part of my everyday job. Participating in geoscience clubs and research groups in graduate school gave me a broad understanding of different sub-disciplines within our field.

What do you see as the future of this career field?

More and more societies are recognizing the need for public outreach, so prospects for jobs like this are good.

Are there any myths about your job that you would like to help dispel?

You don't have to give up science to work for a non-profit organization. I am still engaged in scientific research (such as a statistical study of enrollments and diversity in the Geosciences), and I work with a wide variety of scientists. In one project, I am helping 6 academic geologists to create a cross section across the United States appropriate for the general public.

Career path

After majoring in Geology with a minor in Education, I went to graduate school to pursue a Ph.D. in structural geology. I wanted to get back to my interests in education, and found this job doing public outreach and education at AGI towards the end of my graduate career. My original job was in the Education Department working with K-12 teachers, but has changed as my interests and expertise have grown.

How did you become interested in your current job? How did you get the job -- who did you contact, were there particular ways that helped?

I found a listing for a job on the AGI Geotimes job listing web site as a curriculum developer. I applied, but my application was stuck in a Fed Ex conveyor belt for several months. When it finally made its mangled way to AGI, the Education Director thought my interest in education combined with my research background would be perfect for helping teachers with professional development, and they created a position for me. I would suggest contacting people in leadership in geoscience societies and/or talking to non-profit representatives at AGU or GSA meetings to find out what jobs might be available.

What made you more competitive to get your job?

I had a minor in education with student teaching experience during my undergraduate years. While in graduate school, I volunteered with Education programs for K-12 students, and took classes in Course Design and Teaching Methods.

Advice for graduate students

Whatever you do, finish your degree before leaving. I started my new job while finishing writing on my thesis, and I'm still struggling to complete it. It hasn't been fun.

On personal choices and careers

One of the best things about my job is that it has regular 9-5 hours and a predictable schedule, which has made it easier to have a family (I have a 2.5 year old and one on the way). I still get to go to scientific meetings and keep in touch with colleagues, but I'm not away from home in the field for months at a time (sometimes I really miss it).