GeoNOVA Program Administrator
Government of Nova Scotia in Amherst, Nova Scotia
Laura Beazley fondly recalls memories of family vacations as a child, poring over maps in the back seat of a station wagon while daydreaming about unexplored places. This was her first introduction to geography. Beazley studied Geography at Saint Mary's University and specialized in remote sensing at the Centre of Geographic Sciences (COGS). The imagery aspect of remote sensing provided Beazley with an alternative way to understand the world. Beazley approaches each phase of her career with creativity and openness, from hosting belly dance classes in her village community hall, to operating camera sensors in small aircrafts, to starting her own business. Currently, Beazley serves as a GeoNOVA Program Administrator for the government of Nova Scotia.
1. Can you describe your career path since graduation?
After graduating from COGS, I worked with a start-up geomatics company in my hometown of Dartmouth. I operated a special camera system in small aircrafts to collect hyperspectral imagery. We did research and development projects such as determining how to detect mines in a minefield by looking at the vegetation signatures. I worked hard and long hours in different countries with many different people. It was a fresh and exciting learning adventure.
The company went under, and a former colleague and I started a new company to complete the remaining contracts. The next thing I knew, I was self-employed. From there, I worked for two non-profit organizations in geomatics. I also accepted contracts through my company called Scotia Geomatics, mainly for governmental work. I later secured a job for property mapping with the Province of Nova Scotia in Bridgewater. Then, I moved to Amherst— where I am now — at the Nova Scotia Geomatics Center, which is a part of Geographic Information Services, Internal Services Department.
2. What skills do you wish you learned during your education that would have helped you in the job market today?
I struggled with communication, business development, and marketing. In my first job after graduation, all of a sudden, I was at conferences promoting our new technology. I had to be clear on my messages. It was a process of coming out of my shell and improving my communication skills. With more practice and time, I networked and promoted the companies I worked for with more ease. Especially as a contractor, I quickly embraced networking as an essential part of discovering new work. It kept me in the loop with full-time position openings.
3. Looking back, what would you have done differently?
I always wanted to go further with my education. I would like to pursue a Master of Public Administration. It would help me to improve my skills in community engagement, hosting public discussions, government finance, and marketing. It could help me to go further in what I do. Policy writing would help as well, as it applies to my current work.
4. Do you have any advice for students wishing to attain a fulfilling career in geography?
I like to try everything. I would advise students to keep an open mind and take chances whenever possible. If you are pursuing one path, try not to close off other possibilities. For example, perhaps one of your less-valued skills is what an employer needs, though the employer has not made the connection and did not list the skill in their job description. In this case, have confidence in what you can offer and set your mind to realize your value. It will help you to present your unique skillset as an asset that fits the needs of the employer.
Canadian Association of Geographers
PO Box 35047 Westgate
Ottawa, ON K1Z 1A2