Navigating the Path to Professional Success (hosted by TWS)

Whether you are a current student, a recent graduate, or an early career professional, navigating the wildlife profession can be a daunting task. How do you make sure your resume stands out? How do you make a lasting impression on a potential employer? How do you develop and direct your career path? During this session, attendees will gain insight on all of this and more. This symposium and panel discussion brings together professionals across the wildlife fields (academia, state agencies, federal agencies, and NGOs) to discuss with students what it means to be a wildlife professional, how to be a wildlife professional, and how to foster professionalism within their student chapters, schools, and beyond. The speakers will share their diverse experiences as well as offer tips, tricks, and suggestions to improve professionalism in age of social media, technology, and increasing social familiarity. Established wildlife and career professionals will cover topics including interviews, networking, TWS certification, and TWS Student Chapter involvement. The knowledge and advice gained during this session will enable young professionals to confidently forge their path in the wildlife profession.

8:00AM Selecting the Right Applicant. Critical Examination of Resumes and Interviews
  Merav Ben-David
A crucial step in securing a job in wildlife biology is assembling a competitive application. An impressive resume, a well-constructed cover letter, and great recommendation letters are key components of successful applications; those that rise to the top of the pile. Using real job announcements and representative (made-up) applications, teams composed of professionals and students from the audience will embark on the task of selecting the right applicant for each position. This will be followed by a discussion of the criteria each team used in their selection. The activity and discussion will provide participants with the understanding of what employers are expecting from competitive applications and how they should develop their resumes and cover letters. The discussion will also provide guidelines for the steps needed to secure high-quality recommendations from past supervisors.
8:40AM Climbing the Career Ladder Starting from the Bottom Rung: A Forest Service Perspective
  Todd Rawlinson
“I want to work in the woods” is a common refrain among those who aspire to become wildlife professionals. However, it takes more than a desire to “work in the woods” to succeed as a professional wildlife biologist. Indeed, value in nature comes in many forms, and the complexity of land management agencies’ missions, the multiple-use model, and personal desires often collide along the path to professional success. This is particularly true with the United States Forest Service, where a desire to work in the woods is important, although a strong work ethic, personal flexibility, and perhaps most importantly, stick-to-itiveness are equally if not more important. Rising from the field into a management position with the Forest Service presents many challenges and includes many rewards. An understanding of field biology in its purest form plays a key role in enabling the development of what a Forest Service wildlife biologist should be today. As with any sound biological study, understanding what you know and what you need to know before you get started can help create your identity as a future agency biologist. Here I describe my path from the field to a management position with the Forest Service, including lessons learned and tips for success.
9:00AM Working the Field: Careers in Wildlife
  Quentin Hays
Becoming a wildlife biologist can seem like a distant dream to many aspiring students, though the road to professional status begins early, and can at times be fraught. The choices wildlife students face prior to graduation often mark the beginning of a sinuous journey on the path to a rewarding career. Should budding biologists make the jump to graduate school? Perhaps an internship program with a government agency is a better choice? What about publishing or perishing? Is leaving a lasting legacy as a conservationist or environmentalist important? Maybe finances and accountability are driving factors? These questions, in one form or another, must all be confronted along the road to professional success. As part of this process, individuals must evaluate each path in the context of maximizing individual strengths and minimizing personal weaknesses in determining how and where to ply their trade. Traditionally, professional wildlife biologists work in one of four sectors: government or the public sector; consulting or the private sector; non-profits or other non-governmental organizations; or academia, be it teaching or research. Within each realm are various sub-sectors that may align with particular personal or career goals while also meshing with individual interests; each career category offers benefits and drawbacks. Determining what drives you as an aspiring wildlife biologist while also recognizing personal strengths or relative shortcomings is of critical importance as you begin the journey to a professional career. This presentation will provide overviews of the four primary professional sectors in the wildlife world, including the good and bad of each. Strategies for achieving a chosen career in wildlife will also be discussed, including how to identify personal strengths and weaknesses, and how to eventually become a well-rounded professional.
9:20AM Involvement in Professional Societies – Being More Than a Member
  Susan Felege
Professional societies are the cornerstone to scientific disciplines for sharing knowledge, networking, and overall professional development. Becoming members of societies should be a part of becoming a professional. However, selecting which societies to join, how many, and how to be involved requires understanding what you want to gain from the organization and what you can contribute. Much like education, you get out of a membership what you put into it. Navigating memberships requires asking yourself important questions about goals and skills you can provide and want to develop and then doing some homework to determine what societies match these. Using The Wildlife Society as a case study, I will describe the process of selecting a society that fits you. I will provide guidance on how to get the most out of your membership while helping the professional society meet its overall mission. Further, I will provide insights on what societies should do to facilitate the continued growth of the organization through student memberships.
09:40AM Break
10:10AM What Would You Do? Navigating Sticky Situations on Your Professional Path
  Lara Pacifici
As a new professional, you may find yourself in a sticky situation where it is not entirely clear how to best navigate the issue. This presentation will go through several common cases that students and new professionals find themselves in when searching for, interviewing, and starting new jobs. Some of these issues include competing with friends for the same positions, managing multiple job offers, negotiating salary and position expectations, and developing positive rapport with new colleagues. Each scenario will be presented then possible approaches will be discussed. Several established wildlife professionals will be on hand to offer their experiences and advice.
10:50AM Panel Discussion

Organizers: Lara Pacifici
Supported by: TWS Conference Arrangements Committee

Location: Reno-Sparks CC Date: October 1, 2019 Time: 8:00 am - 11:50 am