Initial Publication Date: October 27, 2007

Workshop Summary

The Role of Departments in Preparing Future Geoscience Professionals

Representatives from twenty-six geoscience departments met at the College of William & Mary in January, 2007, to consider how geoscience programs can more effectively support students as they prepare for professional careers. A full description of the workshop can be found on the workshop website. Over the course of two days, participants developed:

  • A set of suggestions for departments seeking to strengthen the role their programs play in preparing students for geoscience professions
  • A collection of resources that will be posted on the Building Strong Geoscience Departments website, including:
    • A summary of current trends in the geoscience workforce.
    • Descriptions of programs currently in place that support students in preparing for careers.
    • Interviews with employers and recently hired employees describing the skills needed in various geoscience careers.
    • Strategies for bringing a global or international perspective into geoscience programs.
  • Personalized action plans for how their department can move forward through departmental rather than individual action.

Strategies for preparing students for professional careers that resonated with workshop participants included:

  • Help students to recognize and articulate the skills that they have mastered: Geoscience skills and general skills such as problem solving, communication or professionalism are both important.
  • Bring together curriculum and extracurricular offerings to prepare students for the career of their choice: Specific course, field trips, mentoring and advising, student organizations, real world experiences, leadership, and networking can all be important in building job skills.
  • Assess curricular and extracurricular offerings to evaluate the impact that specific programs are having on students: This information can guide decision making and student advising.
  • Work with your alumni: Maintain records of alumni career paths to use as examples for students and parents.
  • Collaborate with campus offices: The career center can be an extremely valuable partner in providing career guidance, developing resumes and applications, and helping students through the job search process.