2014 GSA Annual Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia (19–22 October 2014)

Paper No. 212-2
Presentation Time: 9:15 AM

KNOWING WHAT YOUR GRADUATES DO: TRACKING GEOSCIENCE ALUMNI EMPLOYMENT USING LINKEDIN


STOKES, Martin and STOKES, Alison, School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Plymouth University, Drake Circus, Plymouth, PL4 8AA, United Kingdom, alison.stokes@plymouth.ac.uk

Many geoscience graduates leave university to pursue a career as a geoscience professional. Insights into graduate career paths can be gained from information collected by government agencies and through university alumni schemes, but such information typically lacks a geoscience focus and under represents graduate numbers. Connections can also be maintained via personal contacts, but this too is patchy and under representative. However, it is important for faculty to maintain up-to-date knowledge about graduate careers since preparation for entry into the geoscience workforce forms a critical part of the undergraduate curriculum at Plymouth University (UK).

To address this we have used the social networking application LinkedIn as a tool to maintain professional connections with Plymouth University geoscience graduates, and to gather information about their employment histories. This information, which is freely accessible in the public domain, has been compiled into a database which can easily be mined to identify the main job roles taken by graduates, and the companies that employ them. All information is anonymised during the analytical process, which is focused solely on job role and employer.

Using our current database (n>300) we have compiled word clouds which enable us to graphically, and semi-quantitatively, represent the most commonly occurring job roles and employing companies for students graduating since 2007. These word clouds are potent visualization tools which can be used in a variety of contexts. Most importantly, they can empower undergraduate students by demonstrating the success of previous graduates, as well as identifying the main roles and employers they are likely to encounter. They also provide an evidence base for faculty to speak with authority about graduate employment prospects, and provide a powerful tool for marketing and new student recruitment. Knowledge that certain companies recruit from your university can be used to initiate, maintain and build contacts with specific employers. A dedicated LinkedIn Group (Earth Sciences @Plymouth University) has been created and routinely provides notice of upcoming graduate geoscience jobs as well as a forum for careers advice.

Handouts
  • Stokes & Stokes GSA poster.pdf (686.5 kB)