It is often said within the field that “the best geologist is simply the one who has seen the most rocks.” By that logic, an international geology internship is one of the best possible compliments to any geology degree or career. Geology internships abroad are available in a wide variety of pursuits all over the world, and an international internship will be a shining star on any future geologist’s resume. The following guide will take aspiring interns through the basics of finding and obtaining one of these career-defining positions overseas, from the types of tasks they can expect to perform to the locations where they may find themselves working.
Why Intern Abroad in Geology
As any good geologist can tell you, the makeup of the Earth beneath our feet is almost as varied and diverse as the types of people that walk on top of it. International borders make little to no difference to those committed to the science of geology and in order to learn as much as possible about the makeup of our planet, a few of those borders will need to be crossed. Geology internships abroad are a fantastic addition to a geology education and will only prove to benefit individuals in their future career endeavors.
Students will be exposed to new and different types of geologic processes and formations that simply can’t be found in their home countries, expanding their knowledge base and skill sets in everything from laboratory work to field research. For any students enthusiastic about geology, interning abroad is one of the best opportunities available for learning outside of a classroom setting, where the real heart of geology lives.
Geology is, by its very nature, a truly global field. However, there are a select few locations on earth that may be better suited to certain sub-concentrations within the science. The following are just a few of these locations, along with the geologic features that may make them of interest to students.
Australia & New Zealand. For a combination of fascinating geologic phenomena and the luxury of having no language barrier, Australia and New Zealand both present a great option for geology internships abroad. Wind erosion has sculpted the lands of Western Australia for thousands of years and New Zealand is home to frequent seismic and volcanic activity stemming from several major fault lines that run through the country. Further, with its frequent designation as one of the most naturally beautiful places on Earth, New Zealand is understandably home to global leaders in the fight to preserve natural resources. These efforts balanced with the hot-button issue of proposed oil drilling in the Tasman Sea make both Australia and New Zealand world-class options for geology internships abroad.
Scotland. Another location that provides little resistance in the area of local language is Scotland, again home to some spectacular geologic features. From the central highlands to the spectacular coastlines, Scotland provides many research based geology internships within some of the finest institutions in Europe. The geology of Scotland has remained relatively consistent for millennia and makes for a great location to study soil and rock layering as they relate to geologic time periods. Much can be learned about the history and composition of the Earth through a geology internship in Scotland.
Norway. Although the language and culture may present some obstacles to potential interns, Norway is hard to beat in terms of geology internship possibilities. Numerous organizations, research institutions, and corporations are active in the geology field in Norway. Specific positions are available in the realm of simultaneously protecting and economically exploiting the beautiful natural geologic features of the country. Norway is home to beautiful coastal fjords as well as protected natural areas above the Arctic Circle, but petrochemical interests (oil and natural gas) also help support a sizable portion of Norway’s economy. Finding a balance between these two pursuits is of utmost importance to many organizations within Norway, allowing potential interns to make an impactful difference during their geology internship abroad.
Individuals interested in international geological internships may also want to consider Iceland, Argentina, and South Africa, due to the latter nations’ extremely varied landscapes.
Geology Internships Abroad
International geological internships will involve either laboratory work, field work, or a combination of the two. If employed in a laboratory setting, interns can expect to work full time (approximately 40 hours per week), with an even larger commitment occasionally needed should interns be deployed to a field site. Individuals completing geology internships abroad will likely find themselves employed by an institution working toward some form of research, often either a university or a company investigating geologic issues for commercial needs.
Geology internships abroad are available with universities conducting purely scientific research as well as corporations involved in everything from oil extraction and production to civil engineering to natural resource preservation. In fact, two or more of these pursuits will often be blended together in the geology field, providing interns with a multifaceted approach to the field of geology and student’s with the chance to apply their education to the real world.
In terms of finding an appropriate geology placement abroad, home universities in the United States are often an excellent place to start the search. The United States is home to consistently respectable programs in geology and the students in these programs are often more than qualified for a majority of geology internships abroad. Geology is a relatively close-knit field and, as such, most geology programs will have at least a few professional connections available to students overseas.
A great first step is simply speaking with a current professor or faculty member that has a background in the specific branch of geology in which you would like to intern abroad in. Another important consideration to make is the specific location of a international geological internship. If a student has a specific location in mind, the timing of an internship abroad may be important, as field research is often made difficult by either cold or wet weather based on the latitude of the destination. This also means that planning ahead may be critical for both scheduling a geology internship and for fitting it into preexisting academic agendas.
- Demonstrate Knowledge & Value. By completing an internship in another country, a student is able to show prospective future employers that they have not only taken efforts to expand their knowledge as much as possible, but also that they are flexible and able to adapt to new locations and work conditions, regardless of where in the world that may be.
- Make Real, Lasting Change. Some geology internships abroad will allow interns to make a sustainable difference in local communities, by initiating awareness campaigns or helping to educate community members about the importance of environmental protection.
- Become a Competitive Job Candidate. Due to the international nature of geology as a science, employers will likely be on the lookout for applicants that have demonstrated both a willingness to work abroad and a record of having success while doing so. To these ends, an international internship in geology is an ideal way to gain a leg up on the competition in geology, regardless of where one eventually aims to live and work.