It is a fair question, right? We have all thought about it. If I think back to that “Intro to Geology” course in college, it seemed “easy” at the beginning, probably because it was so much fun! It was an intoxicating course for an outdoor/nature-minded science student. The professor showing us a wide range of Earth landforms and processes with slides of beautiful places, teasing out the idea of a career with outdoor travels around the globe. Plus, hanging out with other geology students was a blast, whether after class drinking a beer or hiking over a pile of rocks. Who knew those were the early days of “networking”?
As with any discipline however, the more you advance, the more you must work at it. Those advanced classes and degrees were not easy, but the value and enjoyment were worth it.
Finding employment after graduation is rarely easy for anyone. Sure, there have been times when the demand for a fresh new geologist was such a large percentage of the supply that the difficulty of landing a first job was relatively low. It almost appears easy compared to today. But those times are rare.
Learning the ropes in that first “associate geologist” position takes work. Developing your skills to the point that your contributions to the job are greater than your need for training takes work. Career advancement, whether through technical tracks or management tracks takes work. Hopes of “finally figuring it out” may tease our minds but evolving demands and conditions of employment challenge the path to “easy street.”
For many, the concept of networking gains value as opportunities arise both from within and outside of our employment situation. Business groups, local geological societies, and even AAPG become more relevant to those who fully utilize the potential of these organizations. However, of all those extra commitments take up time … and become their own level of work. It is not really “easy.”
The DPA – Path to “Easy Street” or Just More Work?
Article I in the bylaws states the purpose of the Division of Professional Affairs, which can be summarized as the following: promoting professionalism; requiring high technical competence; effective communication with members and the public on activities, scientific practice, legislation, and regulation; certification; and excellence in academic training.
The DPA can fulfill its mission with activity in universities, the workplace, government institutions and the media ... there is no shortage of needs or opportunities. But will DPA involvement help make a career “easy,” or is it just more volunteer work?
There’s nothing wrong with asking that question! Let’s explore the work part of the answer and see if any career “ease” comes from it.
Reconnecting with Academics
As a first step, think about the academic institutions that contribute to geological education. Are we engaged with those schools? Do we talk to professors and students about careers in petroleum geoscience? Do we share ideas about pathways to employment? DPA members are the perfect partners for the academics teaching young geologists, but we must let them know we are here. For those who have not engaged with a school since they were a student, our other experienced members are available to help get you started. Not easy, but impactful work.
Jobs, Jobs, Jobs
Next, let’s talk about the difficulty of today’s geoscience job market. It is tough for both new graduates and many of the recently unemployed. The challenges are universal, cutting across every human demographic, yet the solutions are most frequently bespoke. Employment of geoscientists is fundamental to our Association, so if anything deserves our effort, helping people find jobs is at the top of the list. The DPA members – people who have invested the time and effort to embody and assert their professionalism – are perfectly capable of offering customized counsel to those in the hunt for a new job. As the new president of DPA, I am here to help, as are almost all of our members. Just ask us! Not easy, but rewarding work.
I’m From the Government and I’m Here to Help
As we turn our attention outside of our profession and toward the public and governments around the world, it is no understatement to say the application of geoscience to the business of hydrocarbon production is under attack. Geoscientists have a better understanding of the Earth through time than any other scientific discipline. If we do not engage in local, national and global discussions on energy, particularly the use of hydrocarbons, then our highly-educated and relevant voice will not be heard. DPA members are the perfect professionals to participate in the process of finding rational energy solutions. Not easy, but important work.
The “Easy” Illusion
So back to the original question: “When does this career get easy?”
The short answer is ... it never does.
Will adding volunteer work by participating in DPA activities make the career easier? Maybe, but investing your time may yield other unexpected benefits too. What if “easy” is less attractive than we originally thought? Are the challenges and the difficulties of a career in geosciences part of the reason the profession is so rewarding? Maybe “easy” is boring? A geologist is rarely bored!
In fact, geologists spend their entire careers solving difficult problems with fundamentally incomplete data. It is hard. Our jobs require discovery thinking with a clear understanding of risk, not mindless execution of someone else’s orders. Our “answers” are better when our knowledge covers a broad breadth of information, which of course gives us advantages in all sorts of problem-solving. We learn about everything! It is part of why I like hanging out with geologists so much. That, and the beer, of course.
As to the DPA, although joining is easy, the giving of your time and energy is work. I gratefully welcome you to join me on this journey to make a positive impact for our profession and our Association. “Easy” is an illusion, so let’s embrace the reality of hard work and go get those rewards!