Navigating the Path to Professional Success



Symposia will be available on-demand on their scheduled date, then again at the conclusion of the conference.

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.

Agency, Academic, Private Sector, Nonprofit – What Does It All Mean?
Quentin R. Hays
Becoming a professional wildlife biologist can seem like a distant dream to many aspiring students, though the road to professional status begins early and there are many important decisions to be made along the way. Should students 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 important? Maybe finances, accountability and diversity of work are driving factors? These questions, in one form or another, must all be answered along the road to professional status. As part of this process, individuals must evaluate each choice 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.
Climbing the Career Ladder Starting from the Bottom Rung
Christina Wampler
For students just graduating with a degree in wildlife, it can be daunting to think about climbing the career ladder from the bottom rung. It can seem an insurmountable journey from the day when the diploma is conferred to the day when one achieves their dream job. In this session, a wildlife professional who has achieved that climb will share experiences and advice about how to navigate the path from graduation to a fulfilling career. Perspectives on changing jobs, networking, and building a professional presence will be discussed. This presentation is meant to encourage and inspire new professionals as they begin their own climb up the career ladder.
Involvement in Professional Societies – Being More Than a Member
Susan Ellis-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.
Selecting the Right Applicant: Critical Examination of Resumes and Cover Letters
Lara B. Pacifici
Well written resumes and cover letters are a critical component of a successful job and graduate school applications. In this session, we will review several mock resumes and cover letters for a hypothetical job. By critically thinking about which components of each resume and cover letter are effective and which components could use work, participants will develop an authentic sense for what it means to write an effective resume and cover letter. We will discuss fine tuning resumes and cover letters for specific positions and audiences, and we will have time for a question and answer period about resume and cover letter best practices.
WEDNESDAY 3:00PM – 4:00PM Panel Discussion

Organizers: Lara Pacifici, North Carolina State University, Raliegh, NC

Location: Virtual Date: September 29, 2020 Time: -