CAREER AWARENESS AND PREPARATION FOR THE WORKFORCE: USF GEOSCIENCES PROGRAMS AND PARTNERSHIPS, AND LESSONS LEARNED (Invited Presentation)
A longstanding strategy focused on building student quantitative skills is GLY 3866: Computational Geology (e.g., Vacher, 2000, JGE), taught each semester by different Geoscience faculty. This course is central to the “quantitative” requirement in the USF Geology B.S. degree, in which undergraduates take several 3000-4000 level courses involving extensive quantitative/computational content. Our Geology Alumni Society, long active in supporting our program (see Ryan and Schackne, 2016: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6FYebZpRQPg) offers workshops, professional networking, and events aimed at connecting USF students to the regional geoscience professions. However, despite these activities we found many were unaware of their professional options as geoscientists. We now address this explicitly through “Preparing for a Career in the Geosciences,” a 2000-level, 1-hour offering in which students interact with visiting speakers drawn from our employer partners representing a range of professional sectors. Students write reflective statements on their in-class interactions with professionals, and they create career development plans for themselves involving both coursework and co-curricular professional opportunities. For graduate students our 6000-level “Introduction to Professional Geoscience” course provides instruction in geoscience business practices, licensure, and professional ethics. Students complete a course project in which they develop business proposals for “clients” drawn from our employer partners.
USF Geology programs maintain strong student cohorts (150-170 undergraduates; 70 MS and Ph.D.) despite a strong quantitative bent. Our graduates highlight their professional experiences and quantitative backgrounds as particular strengths of our programs.