University summer holidays are long. Like, really long. Three months kind of long.
This is why a huge proportion of second and third year students in the geology department apply for summer work experience.
The kind of placements you might get vary from work in the mining or mineral exploration industry, to geophysical work in the oil industry, or more niche placements, doing things like biostratigraphy, paleoclimatology or chemical stratigraphy.
There are certain companies who have long running and well established summer placement programmes like BP, Centrica and the STEP programme with Anglo American. However, lots of other companies are open to taking on students to build relationships with universities, and gain exposure.
For example, I did 6 weeks of work with Chemostrat in Welshpool. I spent my days building a non-prop study on the oil fields of the western Barents Sea by building an independent correlation framework for the Cretaceous and Tertiary formations of the west Barents Sea. This was then correlated to a previous study on the Jurassic formations of the central Barents Sea, and tied together with a nice big, shiny bow, and hopefully sold onto someone wishing to drill the area! (The people I worked with were also epic. Just thought I’d throw that in there. Geologists are good for a laugh).
There are several awesome things about work experience. Firstly, the experience is invaluable, no matter what you end up doing, and whether the work you do is paid or unpaid. Having experience with a company is a brilliant bonus to have on your CV, and can enable you to build links with a company that may result in you getting some actual employment after uni. Huzzah.
Then there is the other reason why people love work experience; the travel. During the 2011 summer, I know of individuals who went to locations in Finland, Russia, Mauritania, Australia, Chile, the Solomon Islands and Greenland. Lots of us also went to companies in Wales and Scotland, and even locations much closer to home such as Nottingham or Birmingham. It was just a shame I couldn’t snorkel or go glacier climbing during my time with in Welshpool.
Ah well; still an excellent use of my summer holiday!