Part One of Three Part Series – What the industry wants: Results from the AIG National Graduate Group Geoscience Survey

Supporting our future geoscientists is important. We know that. After all, they’ll need to help find the next generation of resources. But how do we support them? What is it that they’re in desperate need of? Do they even know? Maybe not. How can they when most are yet to experience their future industry? With so many questions to be answered, the AIG’s National Graduate Committee decided to try and get to the bottom of what the industry wants from our future geoscientists.

In February 2016, a survey was released to geoscientists, asking 10 questions designed to shed light on 3 main topics of interest:

  1. Why graduates should persist with a career in geoscience.
  2. The skills/traits considered valuable to employers.
  3. The areas that graduates need improvement.

We received a fantastic response, totalling 47 hours of response time from 83 geoscientists over 41 days, covering 11 areas of geoscience across 6 states and 3 countries.



Fig. 1


Overall, there were 4 common themes revealed from the answers: Network, Attitude, Experience and Continuing Professional Development.



Fig. 2

During the series, we’ll present the results for all the questions from the survey and highlight the 4 common themes. Each part of the series will address the 3 main topics of interest and the relevant questions. In this first part of the series, we’ll cover why graduates should persist with a career in geoscience, a topic not far from the thoughts of many geoscientists at the moment, particularly those in the early stages of their careers.

One question from the survey targeted this topic specifically. The question was “What have you loved most about your career and what job during that journey has been the highlight and why?”. Most reading this will immediately begin reflecting about their careers and for most, it will conjure up a variety of positive emotions. That’s exactly the reaction the question was designed for and the results mirror those emotions well.


Fig. 3


As early career geoscientists, we were eager to discover and fantasise about the kind of career we might have. And fantasise we did as the most resounding response was that their career had been an adventure. Our minds immediately began racing to the adventures of people like John Campbell Miles, George B. Oglivie and Patrick Hannan to name a few. One person said “It has been a huge adventure. I often can’t believe that I am getting paid to do things that others pay money to do/see.”. Another said “The opportunity to work in some unique and amazing placing in Australia and overseas that most people never get the chance to experience (from UG in the Australian Desert to the Canadian Artic in Winter).”. Comforting and encouraging comments after a fairly unnerving few years for our profession.

Another bout of refreshing comments came as the next population of replies revealed that they had loved the challenge of a career as a geoscientist, the people they’d met, and how rewarding it had been. One comment which summarised this perfectly was “Great mix of working with both your hands and your mind, indoor and outdoor work, lots of travel to amazing places, working with a diverse mixture of people across all strata of society, getting to play with lots of cool gadgets and seeing lots and lots of fascinating rocks and mineral deposits!”. Another favourite was “Remote area exploration. Waking up to magnificent sunrises and a landscape alive with morning light. Soil sampling projects where you get a feel for the geology as you walk over it and get to observe Australian plants and wildlife up close and stumble across Indigenous artefacts (tools, tree scars, bush shelters).”.

After those comments, I’m pleased to say that an overwhelming sense of relief swept over us, like the warmth of a blanket might as a parent tucks us in after falling asleep on the couch during a night of watching horror movies. Comments like those are one of the reasons why mentor programs continue to be so successful. The wisdom and reflection from years of experience add fuel to the fire of what might be a kindling flame. Yeah we could say clichés like “toughen up” or “get over it” but everyone reading this right now started somewhere, and most of you would have had words of encouragement from or have been inspired by a mentor of which you’re grateful for. So to all the early career geoscientists out there, we encourage you to get out there and talk to all geoscientists of all ages and experience. Chances are you’ll not just learn something new but you’ll be rejuvenated with some pretty incredible stories.

Before closing, we’d like to send out an enormous thank you to all those who gave their time to respond to the questions!

Our next part of the series will cover the skills/traits considered valuable to employers. See you then!


Josh Leigh
National Graduate Committee Chairman



PDF Download the above article as a PDF.

This article was published in the AIG News 124: May 2016. Click here to download and read the full publication.




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *