Edited by Helen Walkington, Jennifer Hill and Sarah Dyer
Chapter 32: Teaching geography students about careers
Educating geography students about career opportunities is in many ways a unique challenge. It is rather uncommon for an employer to advertise an opening for a ‘geographer’ per se, even in cases where a job entails applications of geographic knowledge, skills, and technologies. At the same time, many other employers are simply unfamiliar with what a person with a geography degree knows and is able to do. While this may at first glance seem to put geography students at a disadvantage, the good news is that the professional possibilities awaiting them are bountiful and extensive, and very likely to remain so well into the future. Our responsibility as educators and advisers in this context is to engage students in a process of thinking about the significance and potential of their academic preparation in geography and what it means to be and become a professional geographer. In this chapter, we present a variety of strategies and curriculum resources developed in recent years to teach geography students about issues of professional ethics, career planning, networking strategies, work–life balance, lifelong learning, and relationships between theory and applied practice in geography. The pedagogical approach we advocate goes beyond the technical ‘nuts-and-bolts’ of helping students write cover letters, format resumes, design portfolios, and improve their interviewing skills. We highlight ways of preparing students to think analytically about the broader industry trends shaping the future economy, and how their disciplinary expertise connects to the evolving needs of business, government, and non-profit employer organizations. From this approach, students stand to gain valuable research skills and a newfound appreciation of the broader value of geography in a wide array of professional settings.
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