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Geography Internships

Gaining Essential Real-World Experience for a Future Career in Geography

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Geography Internships

Internships in geography can help you to meet new people and explore career options.

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For every college student, an internship is a very valuable method by which to obtain on-the-job experience that will not only benefit your resume and provide contacts to employers, but will also help you to determine what to do after graduating. I recommend trying to obtain more than one internship during your academic career - the more the better.

Now, we all know that the job listings for "geographer" in the classifieds are few and far between. If this were not the case, our parents and relatives would never need to ask, "What are you going to do with a degree in geography, teach?" (However, it is true that the U.S. Census Bureau and a few other government agencies do have positions classified as "geographer!") However, the job prospects for geographers are becoming brighter with each autumnal equinox.

Jobs in GIS and planning are becoming more common and geographers can easily fill these positions with experience gained in the classroom and in an internship. These two areas offer ample opportunities for internships, especially with local government agencies. While some internships are paid, the vast majority are not. A good internship will allow you to be part of the day-to-day activities of your agency - you should be part of not just the work, but also the departmental planning, discussion, and implementation.

While the status quo for obtaining an internship might be to go through your university's internship office, I've never done that. I've gone directly to agencies that I've been interested in working for and inquired about internship programs. A contact through a friendly faculty member is also a good route to take. By directly volunteering your services to an agency that you're interested in working for is a quick method to begin a fun-filled educational experience outside of the classroom. (Although I've had several internships, I never worked to obtain school credit for them.) Just be sure that if you're asking about an internship, that you have the appropriate skills for the job (for example, you should probably have some coursework in GIS prior to an internship in GIS.)

When contacting a prospective agency about an internship, be sure to have a fresh and up-to-date resume and cover letter. I'm truly amazed by the number of geography students who don't take advantage of the opportunity to intern. You'll be amazed at how much you learn from the on-the-job experience and you'll be much more employable afterwards. Additionally, the odds are pretty favorable that you could end up working for the agency where you had your internship. Try it, you might like it!

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