In AIG News 124 we talked about the thrill of our industry. How it can take you to places well off the beaten track, to places you never would have dreamed of going to. How it can challenge you both mentally and physically, working with people from all over the world who are enjoying the thrill just as much as you are. All of this while getting paid! Not a bad gig.
That’s all well and good for those who have the experience, skill and contacts to land that dream job, but how about for us early career geoscientists? (let’s call them ECgeos…it sounds cool…) What do we need to do to ensure we’re heading in the right direction in our careers, that we can survive the busts and thrive in the booms, land that dream job and have the career we’d hoped for?
That leads us into the topic of the next part of our series, covering the skills/traits considered valuable to employers, a topic of focus for the AIG National Graduate Group Geoscience Survey. As we did in AIG News 124, we’ll present the results from the survey and highlight the 4 common themes of Network, Attitude, Experience and Continuing Professional Development, revealed from the response.
Eight of the ten questions in the survey were targeted directly at discovering what skill/traits are essential for ECgeos. A list of all the relevant questions, their responses and some key comments are provided below.
Q1: What advice do you wish you were given during your early development?
Q2: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Q4: What traits do you seek when looking to employ a graduate?
Q5: What advice can you offer to those wanting to survive the ‘busts’ and thrive in the ‘booms’?
Q6: Many students and graduates are concerned about the current downturn. What would you say to a student or graduate about that concern?
Q7: What are some of the most useful things you learnt during your time at university studying geology?
Q8: What level of study (i.e. Bachelor, honours, master and/or PhD) would you recommend and why?
Q9: Which geoscientist has been the most influential during your career and what did you learn from them that influenced it so greatly?
It may be stating the obvious but if you really want to do well in this industry (or any industry for that matter), it helps to love what you do. When our superiors were asked what they seek when employing a graduate, they overwhelmingly shouted words like enthusiasm, passion, initiative, inquisitiveness. Of course they did! Who wants to employ someone who doesn’t want to work for them? My guess would be no one. In fact, the theme of initiative and passion ran through most of the questions and that might be because it could be the difference between sinking or swimming when things get difficult. Imagine a common scenario where you’re in the middle of nowhere, mapping or drilling in the stinking hot sun, flies in your face constantly. You might not like it too much in that moment. But what if you were so intrigued with the story the rocks were telling you, that you didn’t really think too much about the heat or the flies? That intrigue and passion might be the difference between catching the first flight home or sticking it out to track down that company making ore body. Maybe that’s a load of bullocks but regardless, if you love licking rocks, you’re probably going to stick with geology rather than switching careers for accounting (ARGH!!).
Another piece of advice was to diversify your skill set/experience and broaden your professional network as soon as possible. Surviving the busts could be the difference between what you know and who you know or maybe there are no exploration geo jobs going but plenty of mine geo roles around. It could mean that you can navigate through some of those challenges more easily. It will also allow you to draw on that to use in other roles and it will provide a better understanding of the bigger picture.
Ok, so how about what you’ve studied at uni? Both the practical skills and the theory behind it? Well, the responses point squarely at diversity too and making sure you have the practical experience to put that learning into action. This came out overwhelmingly in question 8 when asked what level of study is recommended. All but a handful of respondents said a project based level of study before entering the industry is essential. Why? Well it brings together all the skills you’ve learnt over the years of your undergrad into one, focussed effort and makes you learn things like project management which aren’t specifically taught at uni. It screams loud and clear that you love licking rocks and accounting isn’t for you. All those things are what our superiors need from their ECgeos. They need someone who is keen, motivated, curious and has a good understanding of the basics of geology to form the foundation of which they build the rest of their learnings on.
To wrap it up, if you love geology, you’ll do well. If you have that, you’ll want to learn about it, want to contribute to it, want to taste it and find more of it. So take a breath, enjoy the ride, the rocks, the beer and the people who will love it with you.
Our next part of the series will cover the areas that graduates need improvement. See you then!
Former National Graduate Committee Chairman
This article was published in the AIG News 125: September 2016. Click here to download and read the full publication.
Click here to read Part 1 of this series.