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Education: B.A.Sc. (Geological Engineering), M.Sc. (Geology), M.B.A.

Past position(s): Management jobs in financial evaluation, project management, risk management. Geological engineer.

Current Position: Senior Manager, Technical Services

My job focuses on reporting resources and reserves for a gold mining company, and managing related work such as audits and projects by external consultants. At the year end, I make sure that our reserve and resource estimates are reviewed by the appropriate geologists and engineers, and that the company wide statement is compiled correctly. When we publish Technical Reports for investors to review, I'm the lead editor and project manager for assembling and writing the report. I also oversee a small team that supports our geologic databases across the company.

Why did you choose a career in earth science?

Very simple. I like science, and I like the outdoors, and geology struck me as being a bit more mobile than biology, which I also liked. I saw more opportunities for seeing more places with geology.

What do you wish the public knew about earth science?

That groundwater almost never occurs in underground rivers.

How is some of the work you've done relevant to Canadians?

My current work is for overseas mines owned by a Canadian company. It's good to have strong Canadian mining companies and I'm glad to be part of that. In past jobs, I worked on a number of civil geotechnical and environmental hydrogeology projects, which have obvious public safety benefits. One of my favourite early career projects was rock slope inspections and remediation oversight on the Trans Canada highway on the shores of Lake Superior.

What is your favourite place that your work has taken you?

South Africa. I worked there on an eight month work term when I was a student, working on structural geology and rock mechanics applied to mine seismicity. I've been fascinated by the landscapes, wildlife, history and cultures of Southern Africa since high school.

What is your advice for anyone considering an education or career in earth science?

Make sure that you really want to travel, and that your personal life can fit with that. Especially in your early career, odds are you will need to work in remote places or small towns. Make sure you understand the industries. For geologists, there are basically three industries, aside from academia and government agencies. For academia and government jobs, you could work in potentially any area of geology, but the jobs are pretty rare and you need to be prepared to go anywhere around the world, wherever they are offered. The three main industries are mining, petroleum and environmental consulting. For mining, your career will almost always need to start wherever the mine is. The geology jobs in mining corporate head offices are usually for experienced people, with 5-10 years or more in the industry. For petroleum, there are a lot of field jobs as well, but relatively more people working in offices in the major petroleum centres such as Houston and Calgary. Environmental consulting is different in that there are jobs in almost all mid-size to large cities, doing mostly contaminant hydrogeology. Environmental consulting is less cyclical than mining or petroleum, but it often doesn't pay as well as mining or petroleum jobs.

What is something early-career geoscientists can do to make themselves more likely to get a job?

Demonstrate that you love being outdoors and can handle harsh conditions. If you don't like camping, you are probably in the wrong degree programme. This doesn't mean you have to have superhuman tolerance for cold or whatever. It's mostly a matter of mindset and wearing the right clothing. One time I had been standing in muddy slush for an entire day, and an excavator operator was berating another contractor who was complaining about the cold. The operator asked me if I'm cold. "Nope", to which he responded "Because you're dressed appropriately!", using me as an example for his under-dressed co-worker.

It's also a good idea to get various licenses that can help with fieldwork. These include a boating license (Pleasure Craft Operator Card - PCOC), driver's license, and firearm's license (Purchase and Acquisition License - PAL, for protection against bears in the Canadian north). The latter two licenses can take several months to get, so try to get them before you apply for jobs. This is just to maximize your chances for field jobs, which is how most geologists start their career, and many stay in the field for decades, especially in exploration geology. There are niche jobs in geology where you can work on developing software or in a lab, and that might be the right thing for some of you, but there are fewer of those jobs available.

Is there anything you wish you knew before you'd gotten started?

Honestly, no. I had some misconceptions about various career paths during undergrad, but I was enough informed by the time I graduated. I gained that information from working in different industries as a student. If you aren't able to find those opportunities as a student, you can still learn about the different industries through talking with people and researching. The internet was only just becoming a thing when I graduated, but presumably it's easier for students these days to research different career paths.

What are some alternative career paths you can take with a geology degree?

As a geologist, you should be confident that your background prepares you for both qualitative and quantitative problem solving. In geology we work with very sparse and imperfect data, but have to make interpretations and decisions nonetheless. This translates well into business problem solving, which is often a mixture of vague, descriptive information and hard numbers. So, an MBA after geology is not a bad idea, and you don't necessarily need to work in a geology related field if you market yourself appropriately. There are still way too many investment analysts covering mining companies with very little knowledge of geology or mining. Those finance jobs are hard to get but can be very rewarding. Law is another possibility, typically you would work in mining related corporate law. Also, with the emphasis on "big data" these days, you can remind people that geologists were among the pioneers in applying multi-variate statistics to large data sets. If you get a master's in "data analytics", I think you'd be better prepared than most of your classmates in dealing with messy and ambiguous data because that's just business as usual in geology.

Views expressed in blog posts reflect those of the author, and not necessarily those of the CFES.

Education: BSc and BAppSci (Hons) in Geology, MSc in Science Communication

Current Position: Freelance science writer @ resourceswriter.com

Past positions: Geoscientist @ Geoscience Australia, HSEC Coordinator @ Rio Tinto, Communication Advisor @ CSIRO – among others!

Why did you choose a career in earth science?

To be honest, I chose Earth Science in my first year at university to avoid taking Math, and I’m so glad I did! I fell in love with Earth Science in the first semester of my first year, along with the idea of working outside with fun people, and travelling all over the world to understand how the earth works.

How did you get into the job that you're in now?

I became a freelance writer about four years ago. After working as a geologist and then as a health, safety, environment and community coordinator on mineral exploration projects in Australia, North America and Europe, I transitioned into science communication. After a while, I realised that writing and sharing stories about earth science was what I was most passionate about and set out on my own as a freelance science writer and copywriter.

What is something early-career geoscientists can do to make themselves more likely to get a job?

Networking. It’s not for everyone, but if you’re at a conference or meeting or bumping along in a bus on a field trip, just start

talking to the people around you and listen to their stories

and share yours. You may connect with someone who inspires

you and sets you on a new path, find a job, or just make a friend.

What is your favourite place that your work has taken you? Why were you there and why is it a interesting place?

A homestead on the Hoarfrost River, at the northeastern tip of Great Slave Lake, Northwest Territories, Canada. While working at Rio Tinto, we went to Hoarfrost in the middle of winter to complete Arctic Survival and Remote First Aid training, in preparation for Arctic fieldwork. It was magical! We saw the northern lights, learned to start a fire in the snow, built shelters (and slept in them!), performed rescues, drove a skidoo and a dog sled across a frozen lake, and even washed in a traditional sauna. Sadly, the homestead was destroyed by a forest fire three years ago, but the bush pilot and his incredible family are still living there and rebuilding. I hope to return one day!

What do you wish the public knew about earth science?

In recent years, people have become aware of where their clothes are made, how far their food has travelled, and how animals are treated before they become food. People care about the path from farm to table and ethical supply chains. I wish we could explain minerals and energy resources in the same way. Few people think about the path of metals from the ground to an iPhone, where the diamond on their finger came from, or know how the electricity in their home is produced. I wish there was less of a disconnect between the earth resources we rely on every moment of everyday, where they come from, and who finds and extracts them.

Views expressed in blog posts reflect those of the author, and not necessarily those of the CFES.

Education: PhD, Geological Sciences; MSc, Zoology; BScH, Biology

Current Position: Curator of Palaeontology/Director of Science, Joggins Fossil Institute

Past position(s): Research Assistant, Project Seahorse; Research Assistant, Geological Survey of Canada

I work at the Joggins Fossil Institute, a not-for-profit charity that manages the Joggins Fossil Cliffs UNESCO World Heritage Site. As Curator, I am primarily responsible for the ever-growing fossil collection, conducting and facilitating research, and planning for new exhibits in the museum. I also share the new insights from research with the public and scientific community. It’s a dynamic job where every day is different!

Why did you choose a career in earth science?

My primary background is in biology and I was particularly interested in how fossils can contribute to our knowledge of evolutionary processes.

What is something early-career geoscientists can do to make themselves more likely to get a job?

My advice is to get as much relevant and broad experience as possible – one of my first jobs after my Master’s degree was at the Vancouver Aquarium as an Interpreter (guide). This was incredibly valuable experience bacause it helped me to gain skills in public communication – something that all scientists need to be proficient at!

What do you wish the public knew about earth science?

As a paleontologist, I would love people to understand that paleontology is not just about dinosaurs! There are so many interesting and relevant fossils out there and dinosaurs are just one small piece of a very large and interesting puzzle. Clams and snails (my particular specialty) are by far more numerous and well preserved! It’s also critical to understand that discovering fossils is just the tip of the iceberg - a paleontologist’s job is not only to find and name fossils but to understand how they lived and interacted with their environment (paleoecology) and how they evolved. This means that we generally need a lot more information that just one fossil can tell give us.

Above: an exhibit at the Joggins Fossil Institute.

Views expressed in blog posts reflect those of the author, and not necessarily those of the CFES.

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