Preparing for your career

Students in computer lab

Get ready for your future career as a geoscientist

Career Exploration

Career exploration starts with discovery of your personal interests, skills, and values. The UC Davis Internship and Career Center (ICC) is a great place to start your career exploration journey. The ICC can help you:

On the Occupational Outlook Handbook and O*NET Online you can search for job titles, salary information, career outlook, education level, skills, tasks, interests, and activities associated with thousands of careers. Visit the pages for geosciences - as well as related careers that will complement your skills and interests. 

The University of Washington also has a helpful page on what to do with an Earth Science degree.


It can be very valuable to talk through your career self-exploration with your major advisor and faculty advisors to explore your path to a geosciences career. You will want to take the useful information you discover about your interests and skills and turn them into goals and plans with the help of your advisors. 


Talk with your advisor about the skills you want to develop through formal coursework. Geology majors can benefit from coursework in Computer Science, Chemistry, Engineering (ECI 171/L), Environmental Science, Geographic Information Systems (ABT/LDA 150, ESM 186), Hydrology (ESM 100, HYD 144, HYD 146/GEL 156), Math, Physics, or Soil Science (SSC 100). Many of these courses count as major electives. Consider also courses in writing, communication, or cultural studies to expand your transferable skills and world view. 


Interested in teaching science at the middle school or high school level? Want to find out more about teaching as a career? Then be sure to take courses offered by the UC Davis CalTeach/Mathematics and Science Teaching program (CalTeach/MAST). They offer internships in local K-12 classrooms, courses in effective teaching practices, and a professional network that will prepare you for a career in science education. Participation in any one CalTeach/MAST course will give you the prerequisite classroom hours for a teaching credential program.


Participating in undergraduate research can be a great way to gain work experience or prepare for graduate school. A good way to get started is to think of areas you want to learn more about, then speak with faculty members in that area or who have taught classes you enjoyed. Talking with graduate students and teaching assistants is another effective and approachable way to get involved. Email them or visit them at office hours with a short introduction of yourself and your interests and a little about what you hope to learn. It’s appropriate to follow up over email or reach out to multiple faculty or graduate students in order to find a good fit.

A Senior Thesis is a research project that is more formalized and spans two academic quarters. Completing a senior thesis is a great way to go more in-depth on a research project, especially as practice for graduate school work.

Students can complete research (GEL 99 or 199), a senior thesis (GEL 194A-194B), or a senior honors thesis (GEL 194HA-194HB) for units by getting permission from the faculty member they will be working with then visiting the undergraduate advisor for a CRN. These classes can count for electives (with a cap on these units) or the capstone requirement in the Geology major with prior approval; see the General Catalog for more information.


Unlike undergraduate research, internships usually involve working in industry learning the daily tasks of a particular job. Internships can provide a useful networking opportunity, teach technical and transferable skills, and sometimes lead to a job after graduation. Our students have found internships through networking with their peers and recent alumni, professional organizations, job boards, and strategies learned through the Internship and Career Center Internships page.

Students can complete internships for units by registering for GEL 92 or 192. If you have secured an off-campus internship, contact Vice Chair Dave Osleger for permission to register for the internship, and then get the CRN from the undergraduate advisor. These units can count for electives (with a cap on these units) in the Geology major; see the General Catalog for more information. 

It is UC Davis Earth and Planetary Sciences Department policy that paid research, senior thesis, or internship positions can also give unit credit.