The Diploma in Geological Resources gives students the skills and connections they need to carve out a place in the mining industry. Eight of its up-and-comers beat university students two years ahead of them for the chance to scour B.C. for important minerals.
Goal diggers: Geological Resources students land the perfect mining jobs this summer
One of the first things Geological Resources students learn is that the world runs on rocks. Minerals build everything from smartphones to skyscrapers, pencils to airplanes. The diploma program at Douglas trains budding geological technicians and geologists in how to search for and unearth these rich reservoirs. Now, its latest class is ready for a field test.
This summer, eight students have flown out to remote communities across B.C. for their first mining jobs. Hear from three of them about their love of geology, their time at Douglas and how the Diploma in Geological Resources program (GRDP) linked them to these coveted positions.
“‘Send us your resumé.’”
Cameron Washi’s love for geology started with precious memories. This summer, she’s on the hunt for precious metals in B.C.’s Golden Triangle.
From June to September, Cameron is working as a junior geologist with P2 Gold up in Stewart, B.C. – over 1,400 km north of Vancouver. The Triangle region contains some of Canada’s most historically major deposits of gold, drawing countless miners to this day. Cameron spends her days “traversing,” or riding helicopters through the peaks to collect samples of the earth, while her team drills for gold and copper.
She connected with P2 through the AME Roundup, a conference for mineral explorers to network, trade ideas and launch initiatives. The GRDP sends students to the conference every year to find jobs, make contacts and learn more about the industry. The program covers the costs of attendance, which is required for students to graduate – and a chance for them to impress the industry professionals they meet.
“Every company booth I visited was looking to hire students,” says Cameron. “It’s funny because normally they want fourth-years from university. But they’d hear about the skills I got training in at Douglas – mining, exploration, geological mapping – and they’d be like, ‘Crap. Send us your resumé.’”
The job mirrors Cameron’s early adventures in nature, exploring craggy campsites with her family.
“I spent half my childhood outdoors,” she says. “My parents would take me camping, and I’d come home with rocks for my collection. So I grew up eager to learn about the environment. That soon narrowed down to geology.”
Long term, Cameron wants to complete a bachelor’s degree and work her way up to becoming a senior geologist.
“Without us, these resources would never be found”
Jason Wong has had minerals on the mind since middle school. Nowhe’s spending the summer as an exploration assistant with Equity Exploration, a mineral exploration company with roots right here in Vancouver.
Jason’s task is to head to a given dig site, pull up rocks, and analyze them for signs of mineralization. In other words, he helps figure out where exactly the minerals are buried. “A big focus is finding the minerals people need for everyday life: iron, graphite, copper, magnetite,” he explains. “Without companies like ours, these resources would never be found and used.”
Before Equity, Jason scored interviews with several companies in search of the right gig, many of which he met through AME Roundup. He was referred to his current position by a classmate who’d interviewed with Equity before.
“A friend of mine had an offer that he wasn’t able to commit to, but he helped connect me with Equity,” Jason explains. He paid this windfall forward, linking another classmate with the recruiters at Equity, who got hired as well. As Jason elaborates, the GRDP program is a tight-knit group where students form strong friendships.
“It’s an intimate experience, and networking aside, it’s worth it to build all these new relationships.”
Jason’s plans for the future are open. He’s happy to stay in mineral exploration or branch out into other, related fields – one of the strongest contenders is volcanology.
“Kids have big dreams – medicine, space travel – and mine was a life of dinosaur bones,” says Riley Cruickshank. “Turns out there’s no money in paleontology. With geology, you earn more and you keep the digging and truck-driving.”
Riley is in Quesnel working as a junior geologist with Hardline Explorations Corp, travelling from project to project. He describes it as a “jack-of-all-trades” job: geotagging, surveying the ground, core-logging to identify the minerals in rock deposits and much more, all while travelling from project to project. No dinosaur bones involved.
Riley moved into the GRDP from General Studies and immediately appreciated the practical perks. Like Cameron, he found the diploma put him ahead of his university-educated peers at Roundup when it came to fieldwork.
“It’s like, maybe you can see this rock under the microscope and tell me what’s in there. Cool. Now how do we get that out? Cue silence,” Riley says. “The practical experience Douglas gave us is how we got the edge competing for jobs.”
After this job, Riley plans to get his bachelor’s degree, which he needs to become a senior geologist. Eventually he wants to pursue his PhD and teach the next generation of mineral explorers. He expects their work will be more essential than ever — whether people realize it or not.
“Geology affects infrastructure. It’s not just me dig hole, shiny rock, good desk sample. That shiny rock tells you that something is there. Something you probably need for your technology, your electricity, your fuel. Something people are desperate to have.”
The Diploma in Geological Resources can lead to a career as a junior geologist, a geological technician or engineer and many other positions. Many of the credits in the Geological Resources program transfer to bachelor’s programs at research universities throughout B.C. If you choose to pursue and complete a Bachelor of Earth Science, youmove one step closer to getting your license as a senior geologist or environmental geoscientist.