Geography majors have an advantage in today's competitive job market. Geography graduates are in high demand in this age of Internet mapping, globalization, and increased environmental concern. The demand for graduates who have skills in GIS, cartography, and spatial thinking has never been greater. Employers also value the geography graduates' ability to analyze human-environment interactions, integrate knowledge from different disicplines, think globally, and appreciate cultural diversity.
While only the Census Bureau and a handful of other agencies have specific job listings for "geographers," the variety of employment opportunities for geography students has rarely been better. There is certainly a need for gifted geography teachers at all levels, but there are now so many more options in geography. Perhaps the most promising areas currently are in GIS, urban and regional planning, business geographics, and environmental management. However, your imagination is the only limit for what you can do with a geography degree. The following are some resources for finding out more about careers in geography:
Nevertheless, to land a job in most fields, the geography student will need to obtain some experience as an undergraduate. The best way to do this is through an internship, whether paid or voluntary. Geography-related internships are plentiful, and VU geography majors have landed some excellent positions in recent years. You can also earn academic credit towards your geography major or minor by doing an internship, either during the school-year or during the summer.
Great, so how do I get one?
Here are some tips to securing a good internship. First, you need to take the initiative. You can certainly rely on faculty members, fellow students, and the Career Center staff to help you, but ultimately you have to locate and apply for the internship you want. That said, you should also consult with your advisor or other geography faculty members. Many geography students have completed internships in just the last couple of years, often through the assistance of the faculty. Lastly, explore the on-line resources on careers and internships. Some of the better starting points appear below, but there are many, many others. If you come in and complain about not having an internship, you aren't doing your part. So browse the web, visit the Career Center, talk to your professors, and take some ownership in this process. An internship has great potential to jump-start a career, and isn't that what you want?
Geography Internship Resources
General Internship Resources
Profiles of Geography Internships
Recent VU Geography Internship Positions
- Indiana Dunes National Park (interpretation, research)
- City of Valparaiso, Indiana (Urban Planning)
- Northwest Indiana Regional Planning Commission (GIS, Urban Planning, and Transportation Planning)
- Bureau of Land Management, Ely Field Office, Nevada (GIS/GPS)
- Porter County, E-911/Public Safety Office, Valparaiso, Indiana (GIS/GPS)
- Planning Department, City of Portage, Indiana (Urban Planning/GIS)
- Archbold Biological Station, Lake Placid, Florida (Environmental Management/GIS)
- Valassis Communications, Inc., Livonia, Michigan (Marketing/Business Geographics)
- National Geographic Society, Washington, DC (Geography Education, Cartography)
- Jacobs Engineering Group, Inc., Rantoul, Illinois (Environmental Management)
- Porter County Tourism Board, Chesterton, Indiana (Tourism/Marketing)
- Community Outreach Partnership Center, Valparaiso University, Indiana (Community Planning/GIS)
- Land Use Department, Will County, Joliet, Illinois (Urban Planning)
- Economic Development Department, NIPSCO, Merrillville, Indiana (Community Development/GIS)
- Planning and Growth Management Department, City of Peoria, Illinois (Urban Planning/GIS)
- Tall Tree Arboretum
- Long Island National
Wildlife Refuge, New York
- USGS Denver, CO
- Alaska National
Published Internship Resources
- Peterson's Internships (annual). $24.95. Probably the most useful book for international internship applicants. Lists over 40,000 U.S. and overseas internships. Indexes include organizations that accept international applicants, field of interest, location, employer name, academic level required, paid internships, and more. Chapter of advice to international applicants. Peterson's Guides, PO Box 2123, Princeton, NJ 08543-2123; Telephone: 609.243.9111 or 800.338.3282; FAX: 609.243.9150; E-mail: email@example.com.
The Internship Bible (annual). Covers over 100,000 internship opportunities in 100 fields available in the United States and overseas. $25 plus shipping. Princeton Review, distributed by Random House, Distribution Center, Order Department, 400 Hahm Road, Westminster, MD 21157; telephone: 410.848.1900 or 800.793.2665; FAX: 410.386.7013.
Internships: A Directory for Career Finders (1997). Includes over 25,000 internships. $19.95 plus shipping. Arco, Order Department, Macmillan Publishing, 201 West 103rd Street, Indianapolis, IN 46290; telephone: 317.581.3796.
National Directory of Internships (biennial, fall, odd years). Thousands of internship listings, plus internship-related organizations and clearinghouse. $29.95 prepaid. National Society for Internships and Experiential Education, 3509 Hawthorn Drive, Suite 207, Raleigh, NC 27609; telephone 919.787.3263; FAX: 919.787.3381.