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Career Panel Recap: Renowned Geoscientists Coach Aggies On Career Success

The Feb. 3 event covered experts' advice on internships, skill sets, industry opportunities and more.

Feb 25, 2021

During the Geosciences Career Frontiers online career panel event Feb. 3, current Texas A&M University students, former students, faculty and staff had the opportunity to hear perspectives from extraordinary leaders in the geosciences and ask for their advice on specific career questions.

The panel discussed their respective educational paths, the value of their degrees and the pursuit of their highly successful careers. Hosted by Texas A&M’s College of Geosciences, the panel included:

  • Dr. Dawn Wright ’86, chief scientist at Esri
  • Carolyn Wilson, special projects manager at the Southeastern Universities Research Association
  • Dr. Russell Callender ’92, director of Washington Sea Grant
  • Ron Bisio, senior vice president of geospatial at Trimble, Inc.

Jill Urban-Karr ’86, executive director of the Consulting Services/Landfolio Solutions team for the Land Administration Solutions Group of Trimble Navigation, Ltd., moderated the event.

When discussing their best advice for current students, Wright emphasized the importance of internships.

“It is the singular transformative experience,” she said. “I didn’t realize that I was stepping into the best internship absolutely possible after getting my master’s degree at Texas A&M and then going to work as a marine technician for ODP, what was then the Ocean Drilling Program (today known as IODP).”

“I took a Sea Grant Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship that changed my entire life and my career,”  Callendar said, on the importance of experiences and internships.

“And don’t give up, if you don’t get the internship you want that first year or first summer, keep trying and be persistent, and keep your portfolio current,” Wright said.

The entire panel agreed that if they had chance to redo their undergraduate career today, they would prioritize learning coding. Bisio also discussed the importance of getting experience abroad.

“Get outside the country and see how professionals use our tools in other parts of the world,” Bisio said.

Callendar discussed the importance of networking and also taking risks.

“Be willing to take risks in your career,” he said. “I’ve been a risk-taker in both my personal and professional life for many years — I was a rock-climber and mountaineer for many years, and I also took a lot of risks in jobs.”

The panel also agreed on the importance of asking questions and pursuing scientific curiosity.

“Articulating questions and having the courage to ask them,” is an essential habit, Wright said.

“Curiosity is key,” Wilson said.

Watch the entire panel discussion.

By Leslie Lee ’09

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