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Careers Centre

Geography - using your degree

Introduction

Popular career areas for Geography students:

A degree from Scotland's first university is an excellent start to any future career. St Andrews has a reputation for excellence and the ability to attract the brightest students world wide. With this as a starting point you are well on the way to impressing future employers.

Geographers look at wide range of issues spanning the social and physical sciences. By doing so, they develop a breadth of skills which are attractive to a very diverse range of future employers. Research highlights that geography graduates have a better than average chance of finding work and that they are amongst the least likely to be unemployed.

Many of society’s current issues – at both the local and global scale – require an understanding of geography. Global warming, food and energy security, and the uneven impact of economic and social change, are just some of the high profile policy challenges that geographers must help solve. Crucial here, is geography’s role as an integrative discipline that seeks to understand relationships between people, and between people and their physical environment.

Specific technical skills directly relevant to geography-related careers include: field work; research and report writing; preparing maps and diagrams; using social survey and interpretative methods; collecting and analysing information using various technical and laboratory-based methods for the collection and analysis of spatial and environmental information (eg GIS, remote sensing and mathematical modelling); and recognising the moral and ethical issues involved in debates and enquiries.

In addition to subject specific skills, geographers also develop other personal and intellectual skills which are required by all employers, whether they are employing graduates in careers related to, or unrelated to, geography. These skills can be developed through your experience at university as a whole but also through your degree programme, as geography is very diverse and includes lots of hands-on, practical application work. Skills you develop include: analysing and problem-solving; decision-making; critically interpreting data and text; developing a reasoned argument; numerical skills - interpreting and presenting relevant numerical information; team-working; planning skills; presenting oral and written arguments and information; and communication and technology skills (ICT) - including word processing, databases, internet communications, information retrieval and online searches.

As Michel Palin has commented: “[Geography] is a subject that helps young people into work. Many employers prize the knowledge and skills that studying geography can provide and geography in higher education is thriving”.

Careers which particularly utilise the skills developed by geographers include:

Review your degree skills

The profile below identifies the skills that can be developed through the study of your discipline based on subject benchmark statements developed by UK higher education academic communities.

More specifically, a typical geographer can offer advanced knowledge and skills in many or all of the following:

Where do our Geography graduates go?

Recent Geography graduates
Scottish Government Rural Payments and Inspections - Land Review Officer Transport for London  - Trainee Traffic Control Engineer RWE npower - Commercial Analyst
Japan Exchange & Teaching Programme - Assistant Language Teacher (ALT) Network Rail - Graduate Project Manager Chatterbox - English Teacher
Graduates who are established in their profession

MWH Global - Senior Air Quality Consultant

Cloudreach - Talent Operations Lead

New York University Abu Dhabi - HR Advisor

PwC Canada - Management Consultant

EY - Senior Manager

Bell Pottinger - Associate Partner

Megan Foley

Megan graduated in 2013.  She is a Pilot for British Airways.

Read Megan's case study.

George Morriss

George graduated in 2013.  He is Talent Operations Lead at Cloudreach.

Read George's case study.

 Visit the Graduate Destinations page to see what graduates and postgraduates from your School are doing now.

Network with alumni

Many jobs and internships are not advertised.  One of the best ways to find out about these ‘hidden opportunities’ is by networking.  Networking can also help secure a job that is publicised or is part of a training scheme.  Your contacts can open doors, set up meetings, help prepare you for interviews, and provide you with an inside look at a company or industry. 

How to contact alumni

There are two main ways to contact alumni on-line:

  1. Saint Connect - brings together alumni and current students to facilitate networking, enable informal mentoring, provide industry discussion groups, and enable graduates and students to stay up to date with their student societies and sports teams.
  2. LinkedIn - most comprehensive resource to connect with alumni is the University of St Andrews LinkedIn – Alumni Tool. There are also many LinkedIn St Andrews Groups, mainly based on location, which you can join to network with fellow students and alumni, eg St Andrews North America Careers Link.

Postgraduate study/research

In 2014, 31% of Geography graduates went on to do further study.   Advisers are able and willing to discuss postgraduate applications - vocational and academic. 

Popular postgraduate institutions and courses:

Also:

Summer internships/work experience

Campus Opportunities

Work experience is becoming ‘essential’ in the UK when it comes to securing graduate level employment.

During the 2015-16 academic year, more than 90% of the UK’s leading graduate employers offered paid work experience programmes for students and recent graduates. Altogether, 55% of St Andrews finalists had completed some element of work experience with a graduate employer whilst at university – much higher than the survey average. More than two-fifths had a part-time job during term-time and three-fifths had some form of casual vacation work.Source: High Fliers –The UK Graduate Careers Survey 2016.

Met Office
Advertise a variety of summer placements (25 +) - flood and ocean forecasting, air turbulence, climate monitoring ... Deadline Nov/Dec.

Transport

Scotland Transerv
Have previously offered internships to students

Sustrans
Has volunteering opportunities and occasionally paid internships.

Deutsche Bahn
German online travel service has employed St Andrews students as interns.

Real Estate

Savills
This property consultancy offers 4 week placements which are open to all years.

Energy

Community Energy Scotland
Offer unpaid internships, send a CV and covering letter to info@communityenergyscotland.org.uk.

Natural Power
This company often offer summer placements in areas such as hydrology and ecology.

RWE npower
Offer summer placements in all areas of the business, the route to being offered an internship has in the past been through a competition/challenge. There are several SD alumni working at this organisation who gained their positions through taking part in an internship.

Renewable Energy Systems (RES)
Offer internship projects to students and graduates.

RegenSW
Offer a small number of voluntary internships every year to people who want to develop an understanding of this sector.

NGO/International Development

United Nations Economic Commission for Europe – Sustainable Development Internship
These internships are offered on an ad hoc basis related - related to UNECE programmes of work, namely: environment, transport, statistics, sustainable energy, trade, timber and forests, housing and land management, population, economic cooperation.

Gram Vikas
Gram Vikas, which literally means 'village development' is an NGO that works with rural and tribal communities in India & Africa. It works to promote sustainable and equitable processes which help the rural poor and marginalised achieve a dignified quality of life. Interns required to support their work across different sectors.

Environmental

Bright Green Placements
Offer a variety of paid placements in small Scottish companies, past roles have included environmental and transport. Several past SD students have used these placements as springboard to a graduate role.

Mott MacDonald
Global Engineering and Development Consultancy which offer environmental science summer internships.

Fulbright Commission
See website.

The Study of the U.S. Institute for European Student Leaders on Environmental Issues:
This funded US study programme allows you an insightful academic as well as cultural experience.

Case studies

Key links and resources

Career related