Updated: Dec 11, 2020
I‘ll start by saying that you can decide what is best for your career, however, this is what I’ve heard from employers. Firstly, the courses you decide to take for field camps show the employers your skill sets and toolbox. I’ll refer to toolbox throughout this posts as a set of computer programs/equipment you can utilize. The standard field courses like hydrogeology and mapping are standard, as in everyone has them too. Field courses like geophysics and seismology show employers that you have a dynamic toolbox and have more to offer than others. Using GPR (ground penetrating radar) is a desirable skill set that should be utilized if your university offers the course. If you apply for a Field Geologist position and you’ve never been in the field or held a piece of equipment, I wish you the best of luck. On the chance that you’re university does not offer field camps, you can apply to other university programs and go with them. Some awesome field camps linked here: University of Arizona, University of Oregon, and University of South Florida.
Coding. Coding. Coding. Get your hands on a computational geology course and you’ll thank me later. Besides being out in the field, geology is about using analytical skills and toolboxes that get you to the results you want. If you plan to take the leap to graduate school, coding is your foot in the door and shows potential graduate advisors that you’ve put in more effort and work than you have to. There are some awesome introductory free coding courses, linked here, by UC Berkley Professor John DeNero and other tutorials on youtube as well as a coding club on your campus if you look hard enough.
Lastly, talk to graduate students and professors to see what courses they recommend. They’ve been where you are and know the struggle, and chances are they might even have some research projects you can help on to improve your resume and increase your toolbox. Especially graduate students, they will gladly accept free labor to power rocks and sieve them, washing samples, prep thin sections, etc. Just ask and you’ll find an opportunity. During my undergrad, I helped two graduate students and worked on three research projects with three professors. One project got me to an AGU (American Geophysical Union) conference in 2019 and the other project got me published! You never know what opportunities there are until you seek them out.