Becoming an ambassador for further study and careers with geography can be a valuable and rewarding way to offer your time and expertise to students
Becoming an ambassador for further study and careers with geography can be a valuable and rewarding way to offer your time and expertise to students, support equality and diversity in the workforce, and help bridge the gap between university and the workforce. Professional geography ambassadors are important role models and inspire students to consider careers with geography.
There are many ways in which professional geographers can offer expertise and insight to students. These include:
Providing students with insight into how your geography education has supported the job/career you’re in today.
Providing information about potential career paths, and advice on ways to be successful in those paths.
Sharing your experiences of geography, fieldwork, GIS in practice (how what they learn is applied in real life).
Delivering an interactive and informative session about geography in the workplace, for example a practical application of a specific skill or technique.
Discussing your company/workplace and how interested students could apply for jobs in the future.
Offering a different perspective to that of an undergraduate Ambassador (who is still studying at university).
Answering questions about geography at university, geography in the workplace or the subject more generally.
The Society can provide a slide deck with key messages, statistics and activity ideas, to sit alongside your career story and professional experiences.
There are many ways to act as an ambassador for geography, which could include:
Delivering a presentation at a careers day/evening, or in a classroom situation.
Speaking with students about geography at university or in the workplace (as outlined above).
Supporting or mentoring a teacher in technical skills used in lessons, such as GIS or quantitative methods.
Providing resources and data sets, or describing real-world problems, which can be used in a classroom teaching activity.
Support for fieldwork, e.g. inviting a student group to visit a site you manage.
Mentoring a student who is completing an independent study.
Offering a career profile or other resource for the Society’s #ChooseGeography resource bank.
Talk through your session with the teacher beforehand. If possible, relate it to what the students have been learning.
Give yourself plenty of time – be prepared. Practise your presentation with a colleague or young person you know before you need to deliver it.
Know your audience – think about what engaged or inspired you at the same age.
Try to limit any presentation elements to 15-20min at most, and allow plenty of time for questions and discussion.
Check that your presentation materials are inclusive and would encourage a wide range of students into further study or careers with geography. Ask email@example.com for further advice or example illustrations.
Speak slowly and clearly, and avoid (or explain) industry/technical jargon.
Ask questions and connect with your audience. The most successful sessions are when you are enthusiastic about your subject/job, which encourages your audience to interact.
Listen to the students, thank them for their contributions and recognise achievement.
Recap what you’ve covered at the end of the activity.
Seek feedback, to inform future sessions.
Smile and enjoy yourself!
If you’d like to volunteer to be a professional geography ambassador with the Society, please check out our scheme and get in touch. Other ambassador schemes are also available, depending on your sector and location, such as STEM Ambassadors and Nuffield Trust research placements – ask your employer which ones they participate in or check the list below.
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Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) (2021) Being an effective professional ambassador for geography with student audiences. Available at www.rgs.org/careersresources/effectiveambassador. Last accessed on: <date>
Image: @sbk202 / Unsplash
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