SOEST graduates are highly employable, according to survey

Hawai‘i-based employers that hire geoscientists reported interest in hosting SOEST students as interns and employing SOEST graduates, according to a recent survey. Additionally, the skills desired by the surveyed employers are among key abilities that successful undergraduates take with them after graduation.

The organizations surveyed included 20 government agencies and 10 private companies who seek employees in fields such as geotechnical, environmental, Earth, ocean, atmospheric and space science.

The survey asked for information on their organization, current workforce, desired future workforce, recruitment and internships. The vast majority of the respondents reported that less than a quarter of their geoscience employees attended SOEST, while a minority reported less than a quarter of their geoscience employees were local from Hawai‘i. Thus, they are hiring locally, but few of these hires are SOEST graduates.

Almost all respondents hosted interns in the past three years, and 85% of those organizations offered paid internships. Encouragingly, almost all organizations expressed at least some interest in hosting interns in the near future.

Respondents were asked to rate the importance of 20 specified skill sets (11 non-technical and nine technical) for a geoscientist at their organization to have. Of the 11 non-technical skills, six received especially high ratings: technical report writing; interpersonal communication; problem-solving; teamwork; working independently; and time management. Among the nine technical skills, only one received an especially high rating: fieldwork/sampling.

“We want to ensure that SOEST graduates are aware of the technical and non-technical skill sets that could maximize their employability,” said Cherryle Heu, ‘Ike Wai Scholar at UH Mānoa who co-conducted the survey along with Barbara Bruno, researcher at the Hawai‘i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology. “I hope with these data, students can take the opportunities available to improve their employability and have confidence in their skills when it’s time to step into the workforce. We also see value in fostering relationships between SOEST and local geoscience employers, to expand internship offerings and facilitate student networking.”