Initial Publication Date: July 13, 2010

Career Profile: Carol Ormand

Science Education Resource Center, at Carleton College, Northfield, MN

Carleton is a private liberal arts college.

Carol Ormand is a Geoscience Assistant for the Science Education Resource Center. Among other duties, she helps to organize the workshops on Preparing for an Academic Career in the Geosciences and for Early Career Geoscience Faculty each year and maintains the associated websites.

Click on a topic below, or scroll down to read the entire profile: Educational background and career path * Current job responsibilities * Best part of the job * Challenges and strategies * Qualifications * Personal choices * Advice

Briefly describe your educational background and career path.
I earned a B.A. in mathematics from Carleton College, took a few years off from school, and then went back for a Ph.D. in structural geology from the University of Minnesota. After earning my Ph.D., I taught for two years at St. Norbert College (in De Pere, WI), followed by three years at Wittenberg University (in Springfield, OH). While I was teaching at St. Norbert, I met the man who is now my husband. Rather than continuing to pursue a career in academia and living several states away from him, in 2005 I moved to Madison, WI. I was immediately offered a job writing web pages for the Science Education Resource Center. The pages I write target new and soon-to-be professors of geoscience, helping to provide them with the resources they need to be successful, right from the start.

Briefly describe your current job responsibilities.
I collect, create, and organize resources for new and prospective professors in the geosciences. In short, I work to create the resources that I wish had been available when I was starting my career in academia. These range from information about best practices in teaching to examples of successful grant proposals to strategies for time management and balancing work and personal life. Some days I interview successful faculty members about how they do what they do; most days I spend some time searching for information or resources that I'd like to add to our webpages; sometimes I step back and think about what other kinds of resources we should add.

What do you like best about your work?
I feel like I'm providing resources that will be helpful to my "colleagues" in academia, saving each of them all of the time and energy it takes me to find the resources. Every day is a little bit different, and I get lots of appreciation for the work I do. Talking to geology professors all over the country is interesting, too.

What is the most challenging aspect of your work? What strategies have you developed for tackling that challenge?
Deciding what to do next. I have a huge "to-do" list, and I try to keep a balance between doing small things (for an immediate feeling of accomplishment) and making daily progress on the most important, long-term projects.

What qualifications do you think made you competitive in your job search(es)?
In academia, my enthusiasm for and skill at teaching. I believe I was offered my current position because of my interest in good teaching and my experience as a geoscience professor. My skill at and enjoyment of writing has also been beneficial, as is my ability to work independently.

Many of the graduate students and post-doctoral fellows in these workshops are interested in balancing a family and career, in dual career couple issues, and in how other personal choices affect the search for a fulfilling career. Please share information about your situation, your ideas and experiences.
I'm lucky to have a job with regular (business) working hours most of the year. Academia will eat up as much time as you are willing to let it. Reserve some time for yourself. Look around you, and find someone who seems to have a healthy balance between work and personal life, and ask them how they do it.

What advice do you have for graduate students or post-docs preparing for academic careers in geoscience? What do you know now that you wish you had known as you started your career?
There's more than one way to be happy. I used to think that all I ever wanted was to be a professor at a small liberal arts college, preferably in the midwest. I enjoyed my five years of doing that, but along the way I realized that there's more to life than work, and that I am flexible and smart enough to find other things to do for work that I would also enjoy. For me, choosing to be with my partner (over being a professor somewhere else) was the right choice. But it's a very personal choice; you have to figure out what's most important to you, and make your life choices accordingly.