Initial Publication Date: April 13, 2015

Jane Willard

President and Principal Geologist, EnPro Assessment

Carol Ormand interviewed Jane Willard 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.

Jump Down To: Hiring Context | Desirable Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities | How to Stand Out from the Competition

Hiring Context

As the President and Principal Geologist of her own environmental consulting company, Jane Willard does all of the hiring and training of her employees. Her employees conduct preliminary research and site evaluation. For preliminary research, the employee investigates a property's current and past use, and the surrounding properties, to assess whether it is likely to have been contaminated. This requires an understanding of the local geology and the ability to write a summary report. For site evaluation, the employee collects and analyzes samples from suspect properties. This requires coordinating utility clearances, drilling, working with clients, and writing reports. Jane has hired people with either a Masters or a Bachelors degree (and in rare instances an undergraduate student) in geology, geotechnical engineering, or geography. Occasionally, she has hired someone with a degree in environmental science, but only with a strong emphasis on geology.

Desirable Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

Geoscience knowledge

Because of EnPro Assessment's location in the upper midwest, Jane finds that the most essential geoscience knowledge for her employees is a firm grasp of stratigraphy, sedimentology, and glacial geomorphology. In particular, they need to be able to think stratigraphically -- to visualize stratigraphy in three dimensions.

Other skills and abilities

Geoscience knowledge, while essential, is not sufficient by itself. Jane also needs employees who have
  • excellent writing skills
  • project management and organization skills
  • interpersonal skills, including the ability to work effectively with clients, contractors, and others

These skills provide the necessary foundation for additional skills that employees will need to learn on the job, including technical writing and time management. Because their site evaluation reports may some day be used in court, Jane's employees have to learn something about writing legal documents. In addition, EnPro Assessment bills time by the tenth of the hour, so employees must stay on task in order to stay on budget.

How to Stand Out from the Competition

Because she hires people with a variety of educational backgrounds, Jane sees considerable variation in their career preparation. For example, those with degrees in geology are most likely to think stratigraphically in three dimensions. But those with degrees in geotechnical engineering are most likely to have strong project management skills. Job candidates who have all of the above-mentioned knowledge and skills are likely to stand out from the competition. And because all of her employees have to be able to write clear, coherent reports, excellent writing skills are a must.