This month I thought I would bring in a guest columnist to give some insight from a different angle. Kurt Mulhall is a student in his final year of geophysics at the UofC and is gearing up to enter the workforce. Enjoy!
As I sit here writing this article I have five weeks of school left before I am fully graduated and receive my Bachelor of Science in Geophysics. It is surreal to think that I have so little remaining in a long schooling career; after all, I’ve been in university for the last six years of my life. It’s going to be a big change to no longer have to study or worry about tests and homework.
People always ask what I look forward to the most about being done school and I always tell them that it’s the amount of free time that I will hopefully have. Managing a schedule gets to be tough while attending university. Classes often demand at least three hours of extra work for every hour of in-class time. At a modest schedule of four classes, all which include a lab component, this can add up to over 50 hours of out of class time per week! As a student I know it can be easy to get overwhelmed with the amount of work school gives, and trying to stay on top of the work load. From experience it can also be easy to get overly involved with course material and neglect other aspects of life. Students need to realise that a balance between school, social activity and personal hobbies is essential to maintaining a positive attitude toward school, and life in general.
One of the most satisfying out of class activities I have found is taking part in extra-curricular activities, especially industry related. When I first started my program at the University of Calgary I knew that geophysics was the right choice for me and the career path that I wanted to pursue. However during those first few years of my program, school seemed too much like a job that I had to do, rather than one I wanted to do. It took me a while to realize that I needed to become more involved with my academics and participate in school functions out of class time. I wish I would have realized it earlier because once I started participating in out of class activities a whole new world opened for me. I started to enjoy my schooling a lot more; I wanted to be in class, and I gained an entire new group of friends, and was subjected to many new opportunities.
The best advice I can give for a new student entering any program is to go above and beyond what is required at school. Join a club, volunteer, go to events, and even just study at school helps. If you see a poster advertising a faculty event and can fit it into your schedule then go!
Even if you do not know anyone these are great opportunities to meet new fellow students. If you stay in touch with your new found acquaintances you will find they will often share valuable opportunities for other events and programs that may otherwise go unadvertised. This is how I was able to attend my first industry event, the CSEG Doodlespiel, back in 2011. Needless to say I was a little nervous about attending as I had never curled before and did not know if I would fit in with all the professional geophysicists. I found out I was worrying for nothing, as it turned out to be a fantastic event as everyone I met was more than happy to be talking to a student attendee and I also found out that I’m not all that bad at curling after all (we made it to the semi-finals!). To this date, it has still been one of the most influential and memorable events I have attended.
The bonus to attending these industry events is that I was able to talk with professionals who have work experience who are all willing to share career advice, something which is not taught in the classroom. It was also good to meet people in a more relaxed social setting like a curling tournament compared to a job fair or formal mixer. I found it easier to meet and carry on a meaningful conversation with the people I met and I found that they more easily remembered me later on. One thing I began to realize is that people want to see me succeed and will offer assistance in any form such that I reach my goal.
Since becoming more involved in my academic program at school I’ve found university to be a lot more enjoyable. Everything seems to start falling into place. School work becomes more interesting and fun, I think more positively, and find myself looking forward to the next big event so I can reconnect with people I’ve met. I’m very thankful there are opportunities for students to attend many of the industry events, many of which are free to students thanks to generous sponsors. I’m also thankful for those who are willing to offer advice and lend a helping hand to us future geologists and geophysicists. Since participating in my first industry event last year, I have attended a dozen more and have met hundreds of people. So get out there and participate, there’s nothing to lose. Who knows, an extra-curricular field trip out of town may lead to an opportunity to write an article in the RECORDER!
Thank you to Roger Smith for forwarding the opportunity to appear in this section.