Build Community and Career Networks
In order to develop a sense of belonging and opportunity, students need to (1) have a geoscience community on campus, and (2) be introduced to off-campus networks of geoscientists and geoscientist career providers. This larger network benefits students by providing a long-term resource as they move into their careers. Many opportunities exist that introduce students to potential careers and career mentors.
Build On-Campus Student Communities
On-campus student communities allow students to take advantage of their peers that are with them everyday. These communities create a sense of belonging among peers and faculty and develops a support network. Geoscience clubs, invitations for students to attend professional meetings with faculty, and inviting former students to discuss their career pathways each create important initial career networks. The level of student involvement in on-campus activities correlates with a higher GPA (Hawkins, 2010). Encouraging students to join an existing group or start a campus chapter of a larger organization (such as the Geological Society of America or the Association of Environmental and Engineering Geologists) can strengthen connections both within the department as well as with the larger geoscience community.
Wendy Baker has been proactive in encouraging her students at Delta College to join the campus environmental club.
The required orientation for students in the Institute of Marine and Environmental Studies has yielded increased student success rates for geoscience students at Daytona State College. Hearing from former students who conducted research was cited as one of the most important parts of the orientation by current students.
Connect Students to Broader Networks
Broader, external career networks are imperative for obtaining a job and for taking advantage of the wisdom of established geoscientists. Attending professional geoscience meetings or conferences, advertising local career opportunities, and taking field trips to local geoscience firms and agencies are just a few examples (more below) that connect students to external career networks.
- Make use of department bulletin board space to advertise local geoscience career opportunities and make students aware of online resources (GSA, American Geophysical Union) for career opportunities and career information.
- Start recruiting and engaging at the high school level. UT Austin's GeoFORCE program takes over 600 students a year on field trips throughout the United States. These provide opportunities to discuss career opportunities. Carrick et. al (2016) argue that in regions without geoscience careers, students are unlikely to pursue careers in the geosciences without being introduced to those careers in other ways.
- Take field trips that include local professionals. Check out the section "Career information/introduction to the profession" in this SAGE musing to see how three different community colleges incorporated local professionals into their trips.
- Provide opportunities for students to learn about careers by offering opportunities to highlight their student research. Both the Geological Society of America and the American Geophysical Union offer poster sessions that highlight undergraduate and high school research. Consider encouraging undergraduates and high school students to submit an abstract to a session so that they have more opportunity to hear about geoscience careers.
This SAGE Musing describes how the North Carolina team used connections with the Association of Environmental and Engineering Geologists (AEG) to help their students organize a student chapter at their 2YC.
The Virginia team invites students to their workshops at the Virginia Geological Field Conference in order to facilitate connections between students, faculty, and professionals.
As a part of getting their students more involved in professional society meetings, the Southern California 1 team provided their students attending GSA with some meeting guidelines to facilitate a better understanding of geoscience careers. They were expected to attend at least one career-related activity and a networking/social event, as well as take advantage of other workshops and sessions.
Tina L. Carrick, Kate C. Miller, Eric A. Hagedorn, Bridget R. Smith-Konter, and Aaron A. Velasco. Pathways to the Geosciences Summer High School Program: A Ten Year Evaluation. Journal of Geoscience Education, 64, 87–97 (2016)
Hawkins, A.L., 2010, Relationship between Undergraduate Student Activity and Academic Performance, Master's Thesis, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, 41 pp.