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Geologist

Cathie Dunkel

Tell us about your work---what do you do? I am involved in studying oil offshore, as well as the periodic assessment of nature, location and volume of undiscovered oil and gas resources of the California, Oregon, and Washington coastline. I work for the federal government through the Department of the Interior . What skills are needed? You need communication skills , especially written and oral, analytical ability, and the ability to negotiate . You also have to synthesis large volumes of information and be able to differentiate many different types of information. Good problem solving skills and computer knowledge are essential. What was your major? Geology How did you get started in your career? I started with a part time summer job that developed into full-time, permanent position. I started working right out of grad school. What experience do you need in this job? You need a minimum of a bachelor's degree in geology to get started in the field. At this point in my career, a person would need 10 plus years doing what I do. Of course, I have been in my position for a very long time. Describe your "typical" workday: I start out each day by catching up with correspondence (email and mail), I attend meetings, look at the schedules of projects and so on. I look at the jobs with the highest priority and start with them. I typically address two or more projects every day; it is rare to spend one whole day on a project. What is the hardest aspect of your job? Some of our projects involve interactions with the public or organizations that object to our projects. It can be difficult explaining complicated information to people who do not want your project to go on no matter what. What is the most rewarding aspect of your job? The opportunity to meet and interact with individuals with a variety of backgrounds in biology , environmental science , engineering , etc. Our field is very multi-disciplinary in scope. What are your suggestions for someone considering this field? A bachelor's in geology is required. I would be a good idea to obtain a master's in geology or geophysics . If you can get it, work experience while you are in college would be great experience whether paying or not. Also participate in your local geological organizations, attend dinners, meetings, talks, whatever you can do will help you get exposed to people in the field.
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