At Geoger, I get quite a lot of approaches from students and new professionals looking for that first position in the Earth observation (EO) sector – unfortunately the plan for Geoger doesn’t currently involve taking on staff, but this may change. Typically, these approaches come from people with a background in GIS although I also find that a lot of geology/geoscience graduates are also interested in finding jobs that allow them to use and apply spatial tools and remote sensing to their core competency.
I have also spoken a couple of times in the last four years to some of the MSc students in the School of Geography and the Environment at Oxford, as well as to post-docs and PhD students at the Open University, about what it is like to work in the remote sensing sector and what skills are required by employers. In addition, I have presented at the RSPSoc Wavelength conference (both in Worcester and Kingston-upon-Thames) about the history of RS, and possible career options in both the academic and commercial EO sectors.
This blog post can’t really do justice to the diversity of opportunities … or advice (!!) … that is out there but here are some of the things you might want to consider if you are just starting out on your career.
For a first job, your day rate will likely be low, which means that you are a relatively inexpensive but well-trained resource – this gives you the opportunity to get involved in all sorts of tangential projects that interest you. Make sure you ask to be involved! Most managers will be happy to help you grow your skills whilst helping on their projects.
If you are coming out of academia and into the commercial sector, remember to edit down your CV – I’d suggest a two page maximum for industry job applications, tailored for the job you are going for. You need to make an instant hit with your job application, with CVs usually being sifted by someone who is incredibly busy. If someone has upwards of 50 CVs to assess, whilst continuing their day job, they want a CV to stand out in the first half of the first page or it won’t go any further. Differentiate yourself!
At the job interview, demonstrate you can problem solve and make sure that you exemplify your points. State to the interviewers how you’ll fit in to the team. If applying for a technical role, don’t just regurgitate information that you’ve found online about how to do something – the interviewers will have looked at that too. Demonstrate that you have tried out the software or the data or the method, and explain what you think of it.
Remember that your work can easily expand to take over more of your time but your job needn’t define you; … ensure you make time in your week for something fun! Be ready to experiment with new offers and don’t be afraid to learn new things. Take the chances that life offers and do what you love doing.
And good luck with that application!