Gaining Insight into the Workforce: Employer Perspectives and Career Profiles

Preparing students for the workforce is a key aspect of program design. Part of this preparation involves knowing what the workforce looks like and being informed about what employers are looking for in terms of desired competencies for their new hires. Another important branch of preparing students for the workforce is giving them a realistic and descriptive picture of the opportunities that exist in different fields and sectors. The employer and employee perspectives provided below aim to provide department heads and faculty with insight into what employers are looking for in their employees and the career profiles provide a first-hand description for a variety of careers.

Employer and Employee Perspectives

As we prepare students to move from the academic environment to the professional arena, faculty will benefit from an understanding of what employers are looking for and what skills and competencies are in demand in industry. This insight can help you design or evaluate your program or degree certificates to better prepare your students to have the skills employers are looking for. To that end, the collection below showcases employer and employee perspectives that offer a first-hand account of the the skills that are most in-demand in their profession, as well as the current state and future outlook of the workforce in their industries.

The interviews below include employers who participated in the 2013 Geoscience and the 21st Century Workforce as well as employer and employee interviews from the Building Strong Departments project. A collection of presentations from geoscience employers who participated in the 2013SAGE 2YC Workforce Development workshop provide further insight into what opportunities exist and the skills employers are looking for in their hires.

Energy and Mining

Employer Interviews:

  • Marge Anderson, Executive Vice President, Energy Center of Wisconsin
  • Roger Bezdek, President, Management Information Services Inc.
  • Mike Loudin, Manager for Global Geoscience Hiring and Development, ExxonMobil (from the Building Strong Geoscience Departments collections)
  • Rich Patelke, Project Geologist, PolyMet Mining NorthMet Project(from the Building Strong Geoscience Departments collections)

Environmental Consulting

Employer Interviews:

  • Terri Bowers, President, Gradient Principal Environmental Consultants
  • Rick Wardrop, Principal Hydrogeologist, Groundwater and Environmental Services Inc. (GES)
  • Jane Willard, President and Principal Geologist, EnPro Assessment (from the Building Strong Geoscience Departments collections)

Employee Interview:

  • Karla Hunt, Field Geologist, Resources International, Ltd. (from the Building Strong Geoscience Departments collections)

Government or (Non-academic) University Research

Employer Interviews:


Employee Interview:

  • Amy Semratedu, Technical Services Representative, BASF, The Chemical Company (from the Building Strong Geoscience Departments collections)


Other Careers

Employer Interview:

Employee Interviews:
  • Joe McCarthy, Intern, Washington State Governor's Office of Executive Policy (from the Building Strong Geoscience Departments collections)
  • Jon O., Investment Banker for a leading global investment bank on Wall Street (from the Building Strong Geoscience Departments collections)

Career Profiles

Providing students with career 'snapshots' can be used to help students get a clearer picture of the opportunities that currently exist so they can seek out a career that best matches their interests. The career profiles below provide this snapshot by describing a variety of careers, including job responsibilities, qualifications, challenges, and favorite parts of each job by leaders in their fields.


Academic Career Profiles - read about the career paths and job descriptions for several dozen faculty members at a variety of institution types around the country (from On the Cutting Edge Preparing for an Academic Career in the Geosciences)

General Collections

Geoscience Careers Beyond Academia - read about career paths and career descriptions about geoscience-related careers outside of academia (from the On the Cutting Edge project)

Career Profiles - explore the wide range of job descriptions in this collection of academic, industry, government, and alternative career profiles (from the SAGE 2YC project)

Profiles of Geoscientists - explore career profiles for a variety of major employment sectors including energy, hydrology, engineering, mining, and more (from the American Geosciences Institute (AGI))

Career Profiles for Earth Scientists ( This site may be offline. ) - read descriptions of some of the sub-disciplines of Earth Science and explore career profiles for more than 25 geoscientists (from the Association for Women Geoscientists (AWG))

Clarify Pathways to an Earth-Related Career »
An initial step to helping students transition into the workforce is ensuring that they know what career opportunities exist and what it takes to reach those careers. Talking about careers during class, bringing in alumni to speak to students about their experiences, and designating a point-person in the department that students can talk to for more information about pathways to sustainability careers are some ways to ensure that students receive needed career information.
From a synthesis of lessons learned by InTeGrate Implementation Programs