Can’t get a geoscience job because of lack of experience?

Can’t get experience because you don’t have a job?

I hear this a lot from graduates and early career geoscientists.

Why do you need experience anyway? Experience shows that you are adept at “skilfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating information to reach an answer or conclusion”. This is literally the definition for critical thinking and problem solving. This is what employers want. You need to prove that you are a critical thinker and a problem solver.

This was the main purpose of your dissertation, which provided an opportunity for you to develop and demonstrate the skills of a critical thinker and problem solver. You just need lots more examples!

So don’t stop there! Having acquired the skills, you now need to hone them and broaden your experience. Do some studies of your own. You don’t need to be employed to do studies and get experience.

Find a good paper in the UKNNS or Australia, download the freely available data that the paper was based on, and try to recreate the authors work, using the paper as the “solution”. Add it to your portfolio. Then apply what you have learned to another, nearby data set, and add that to your portfolio as well.

Get lots of practice with seismic data in OpendTect and GIS in QGIS, and use spreadsheets (or python) to play with well log data.

Then publish and share your work in a blog, or make videos to explain what you have done. Clearly explaining your work (aims, objectives, results, conclusions etc), is a great way to confirm you have the understanding, skills and experience – the so-called Feynman Test. You can easily record your Powerpoint presentations within Powerpoint! After all, reporting and communicating your skills is another skill that prospective employers are looking for.

If you need help getting started, give me a shout, and perhaps I can help you with some coaching.

Free Data to Download!

There is lots of freely downloadable subsurface data out there. Start downloading it and interpreting it! Australian data is available from Geoscience Australia’s NOPIMS and UK data is available from the National Data Repository (NDR).
There is so much data, it is almost overwhelming, so one suggestion is to find downloadable datasets such as the Regional Hydrocarbon Prospectivity of the Cooper Basin. There are 4 ARCGis data-packages with this study. You can just download them, open them up and start exploring! I was amazed that I was able to just drag-and-drop the .gdb database files straight in to QGIS and get straight to work!

Alternatively start with an interesting paper from the UKCS or Australia and download the data the authors used, then try and do what they did. Once you have “learned” what they did, and how they did it, try applying what you have learned to another dataset. or perhaps expand the existing study, or follow up on one of their recommendations.

Be curious, explore!

Free Software to Explore the Data!

Once you have got the data, load it up and start exploring with the free software that is available!

Get lots of practice with seismic data in OpendTect and GIS in QGIS, and use spreadsheets (or python) to play with well log data.

You should certainly hone your GIS skills with QGIS. There is a great community and lots of videos out there to help you get started.

And don’t stop with the petroleum studies. Datasets for Cooper Basin include minerals, water resources and geothermal data, so there is plenty of opportunity to explore other disciplines to.


“Greg has been absolutely invaluable for inspiration and guidance throughout my studies in geoscience. He is very engaging and is fantastic at getting you to think through a question of your own accord (with pokes in the right direction!) Would highly recommend for anyone who not only wants to dig into their subject but also into their learning process as a whole.” MSc in Engineering Geology

“Greg is a highly competent reservoir geologist and sedimentologist with a wide ranging experience and exceptional knoweldge of workflows and project organisation. His broad understanding of the industry, allied to specialised knowledge, makes him a very valuable team member and his skills in training are widely acknowledged.” Industry Service Company Director

Tell your friends!