Building Your Career
While You Are in School
Careers are not just automatically launched because you have a college degree. There are several things you can do while you are in school to improve your chances in your career.
- Cultivate a relationship with a professor in your career field. Take several classes with a geography professor. Introduce yourself during office hours and discuss your career objectives. Get involved in research, even if it does not earn credit. When you exit UNC, you can ask that professor for a letter of recommendation. The professor will be able to craft a supportive letter filled with a variety of shared experiences, not just grade performance. The folks who hire you want to know if you are organized, responsible, intelligent, passionate, and committed. They might be looking for leadership, or people who take chances and show initiative.
- Experiences, Not Just Classes! When you exit school, your resume is short. It might just say that you have a degree, or that you worked at a few jobs. You really need something to make you stand out. For geography, there are several things to consider to add experiences to your resume:
- Take Field Courses. You learn to collect field data, to accomplish a field goal, to answer a geographic question. Field courses offer enduring memories, build relationships with faculty and fellow students, and can show you what a career might be like.
- Consider an Internship. Work at a city agency or in the private sector, or for a school district. Learn how an institution works and gain the trust of people who may eventually want to hire you. Internships in geography are found in many subfields. It’s up to you to work with our faculty to arrange an internship. See: http://geography.about.com/od/careersingeography/a/internships.htm
- Join the undergraduate geography club. It’s called the Powell Club, named for John Wesley Powell. The club is active and would welcome leadership if you want to shape the club.
- Attend conferences in Geography. There are regional and national conferences for you to consider. See what it’s like to attend a poster session, a research presentation, or to participate in a competition.
- Contact our Alumni. You can write to many of our geography graduates for advice or assistance as you line up life after school. If you do this early on, you may be advised to take a certain course while you are at UNC—it’s easier to do this while you are still in school!
After You Graduate
Here’s what some geographers do who earn advanced degrees: http://www.aag.org/cs/careers
For a more general review of jobs in geography, see http://geography.about.com/od/careersingeography/a/jobsgeography.htm
For a very wide range of lists of careers, type in “Careers in Geography” on your favorite search engine and you’ll get a sense of what is out there.
Oklahoma State University has put together a Powerpoint file that you can download here:
Where Geography Can Take You
Resources for Career