Geoscience Internships: Time to Invest!
One possible short-term supporting activity by the industry would be paid internships. Yes, there have been huge issues presented by Covid-19, but with the pandemic seemingly in retreat (at least in countries with advanced vaccine programmes) and with the opportunity of providing remote access to software, project data and cloud computing, surely internships should be back on the agenda. Some time ago, Shell announced an initiative called ‘Studio X’ aimed at increasing collaboration and connecting a network of global geoscientists with remote work opportunities. As part of this initiative Shell is providing access to three core software platforms to support the programme.
Step Recruitment, a specialist provider of paid student and graduate internships (linking students and intern employers), conducted a survey in June of 2020 and discovered that two thirds of interns had their internships cancelled due to the pandemic.
In the current situation, committing to engage interns has genuine challenges, but what I know is that most interns learn extremely quickly and provide the mentoring company with a fantastic opportunity to assess potential future employees. Even if employment is not a likely outcome, it provides invaluable experience for the participants and helps retain competence that would otherwise drift to other sectors. The potential decimation of geoscience talent from the upstream business should not be underestimated. With the ‘crew change’ having occurred and lack of graduates and postgraduates in this area, paid internships are surely one way to help retain and nurture talent that would otherwise be permanently lost.
Experience has taught me that an internship is only as good as the mentoring which accompanies it. This is an area that is regularly overlooked in the workplace and often absent from formal university curricula, leaving many geoscience professionals unprepared to be effective mentors. Studies show that positive mentoring experiences can help ensure successful degree completion, increase recruitment of underrepresented students into postgraduate courses and research careers and importantly, help reinforce a sense of community and science identity. I’m sure we can all remember at least one teacher, fellow student or colleague who has helped us develop in our careers; perhaps time to think about how we might give something back.
Thumbnail image source: Shutterstock.