Experiences in Improving Student Engagement in Professional Societies and Taking the Next Step

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The "Great Crew Change" in the geosciences workforce is already underway based on demographic and employment data for government agencies and academia, and for the resource industries, the great loss of existing professional experience will begin to "cut to the bone" within the next five years. In addition to this loss of professional experience, the profession's demographics do not allow for traditional mentoring and employee development programs to completely fill the gap. In response to these critical issues, AGI has been focusing on improving career and professional development awareness of new geoscience majors. AGI's program has included efforts to greatly expand student participation in geoscience professional societies early in their academic career, an effort that patterns itself after many engineering discipline best practices. The results of AGI's activities over the last several years have been mixed and reflect a widely varying understanding of students' motivations and their perceptions of actual careers in the geosciences, the nature of the skill portfolio needed for success, and the aptitude of geoscience faculty to advise students in the pursuit of non-academic careers. The dynamics of these efforts have led to several newly emerging programs at AGI, including enhancing the on-campus effort to improve career education in geoscience programs and a collaborative program with the American Institute of Professional Geologists to adopt SLOAN-C best practices in developing online asynchronous, synchronous, and hybrid courses focused on professional development topics that can be taken either as supplemental courses in a degree program or as early-career professional seminars.

  • Christopher Keane*
  • Leila Gonzales*
  • Heather Houlton*
  • American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting 2011