October 13, 2021
Given the change of course that has happened in the world, we wanted to provide expert opinions on what aspiring graduates can do to start off their careers in an uncertain economic climate. We wanted to know what skills will be more important, where the economy is doing relatively well, and if there will be any lasting effects on the job market.
Companies are looking for candidates that can handle the new responsibilities of the job market. Recent graduates actually have an advantage because they are comfortable using newer technologies and have been communicating virtually their whole lives. They can take what they've learned and apply it immediately.
We spoke to professors and experts from several universities and companies to get their opinions on where the job market for recent graduates is heading, as well as how young graduates entering the industry can be adequately prepared. Here are their thoughts.
Texas A&M University - Kingsville
Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute
Abe Woodard: I feel experience helps you stand out the most with Wildlife Biologist resumes and the skills associated with those experiences. Examples would be conducted surveys, radio-telemetry, data analysis, and general research, etc. Normally, experience within specific studies indicates the skills associated, such as with various modeling or statistical programs within our field.
Abe Woodard: Work ethic is important in any field and can be deciding factor within the natural resource profession. Generally speaking, most people underestimate the ability to communicate and develop relationships within our field, but it is a huge part of being a wildlife biologist. As a professional who returned to grad school, I can honestly say that public speaking is a major skill employer look for and will utilize.
Abe Woodard: Analytical skills and keeping up with technology are mandatory. Our job revolves around collecting and analyzing data regarding wildlife and their habitats; having the technical skills and ability to analyze this data is a must.
Abe Woodard: Beyond the amount of experience (years and diversity), soft skills help you earn the most when you first enter the job market.
Lara Pacifici Ph.D.: Strong communication skills, whether remote or in-person, are more important than ever. The ability to lead video conferences used to be an added bonus, but now it is a necessity. In the future, internships and volunteering for research projects will be more important. Additionally, membership and involvement in professional societies and student clubs will demonstrate a holistic commitment.
Lara Pacifici Ph.D.: Skills that require specific training and practice to develop can really set apart an applicant. Expertise with Geographic Information Systems, R coding,, mist netting and bird banding are some examples from the field of wildlife management and conservation. Additionally, we look for internship and volunteer activities, undergraduate research, presentations, publications, and contributions and memberships in professional societies and student clubs.
Lara Pacifici Ph.D.: Wildlife conservation opportunities exist throughout the United States. The most successful candidates are willing to go anywhere and experience new things. Employment opportunities exist with local, state, and federal agencies, non-profit organizations, and private organizations.
The Wildlife Society
Jamila Blake: You may want to be a wildlife biologist, wildlife educator, consultant, or any number of career options. So the experience listed on your resume really depends on which discipline you are interested in pursuing, within the wildlife field, but hands-on experience will be valuable no matter what. This could be through internships, assistantship, volunteer work, or workshop, just something that shows you are working to build up your skillset and apply your knowledge of wildlife.
Jamila Blake: Technology is a vital aspect of the wildlife field, and it will only continue to become more integrated into the work of professionals over the next five years. Emerging technologies will enhance professionals' abilities to monitor and protect species, conduct genetics research, and reduce wildlife diseases. Use of tools like live cams, genetic engineering techniques, GIS, artificial intelligence, and bioacoustics technology will enable efficient and effective contributions to wildlife management and conservation.
Jamila Blake: Impacts of the coronavirus will definitely be seen in the lack of opportunities for in-person interactions, training, and work opportunities, but it is certainly not all bad. While students may have been hoping to gain some field experience, remote or modified positions have been developed, and a number of online learning opportunities have been enhanced to continue students' skill-building. Many organizations have been able to adapt to virtual workplaces, events, and professional development offerings - such as conferences, workshops, mentorship connections, and networking events. This year of adjusting and learning will likely enable the wildlife field to be more flexible with remote working options.