A Graduate Student’s Guide to Necessary Skills for Landing a Job


By Helen Bothwell

Many of our readers and contributing early career ecologists are at that point in their careers where they are transitioning from graduate school life to that thing we have been working towards for so long – a job!  For those of you who have jumped that hurdle and successfully landed positions, I welcome your advice and suggestions from the trenches on this topic.

In a recent publication in Conservation Biology, Blickley et al. (2012) presented a “Graduate student’s guide to necessary skills for nonacademic conservation careers.”  While they focused on conservation jobs, their findings are broadly applicable to students preparing for numerous careers in the sciences.  At the heart of their study is the notion that graduate coursework and thesis or dissertation research don’t necessarily translate into skill sets essential for the job market.  A well-respected scientist once told me that a graduate degree is kind of the booby prize.  To be competitive in the job market, there are many additional skills we need to be developing beyond the minimum requirements of a graduate degree.

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How to Think Like a Scientist: New Directions in Science Education

Heading out for science days with Hopi and Navajo students in Northern Arizona! Photo courtesy of Helen Bothwell, 2012.

As ecologists, we are in the thick of climate change awareness, and it can be tough not to get pulled in by that magnet of doom and gloom.  Yet, as Mike SanClements pointed out in his recent post, it’s important to find those things that empower us and keep us motivated to work towards change.  Science educators are in a unique position to potentially interact with hundreds of students every year.  While only a small percentage of these students may end up pursuing a career as a scientist or researcher, all of them will have the opportunity to vote on ballot measures and for politicians that will dictate major future environmental impacts.  Continue reading

Early Career Ecologist Profile: Meet Helen Bothwell

Hello fellow bloggers and ecology lovers!  I’d like to take a moment to say hi and introduce myself.  Whether we study great forests or soil micro-organisms, I think something we all share is an innate respect for the world around us and a desire to better understand and safe-guard it.  At the core, that is what brought me to a career in ecology.  Continue reading