Strategies for Success: Professional Development for Students and New Professionals

ROOM: HCCC, Room 25C
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 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 resumes and cover letters, networking, and TWS involvement. The knowledge and advice gained during this session will enable young professionals to confidently forge their path in the wildlife profession.

12:50PM Selecting the Right Applicant. Critical Examination of Resumes and Cover Letters
  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.
1:30PM Professional Paths in Wildlife: Options and Optimizations
  Quentin R. Hays
Future wildlife professionals face a multitude of career path choices, many of which occur prior to graduation. Should budding wildlifers pursue a graduate degree? Perhaps an internship program such as Pathways with the USDA Forest Service is a viable option? What about a life of research and corresponding pursuit of funding? Are finances and accountability driving factors? How about leaving a lasting legacy as an environmentalist or conservationist? What career path is best for optimizing individual strengths or minimizing particular weaknesses? These questions, in one form or another, must all be addressed by future wildlife professionals when determining where and how to ply their trade. Traditionally, wildlife biologists work in one of four main occupational realms: government or public sector, private sector, non-governmental organizations, or academia. Within each realm are various subsectors that align with particular career goals and optimize individual or personal strengths; each career category offers benefits and drawbacks. Identifying what drives you as an aspiring wildlife biologist is important as you embark upon your professional path, which brings many responsibilities as well as many privileges. Additionally, recognizing personal strengths or relative shortcomings is of critical importance. This presentation will highlight the basics of wildlife positions in each occupational category, including the good, the bad and the ugly, and will outline strategies for achieving a chosen wildlife career.
1:50PM 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.
2:30PM Refreshment Break
3:20PM How to Apply for Federal Jobs: Techniques, Tips and Tricks to Make the List.
  John Paul Seman
The Federal Government supports a great diversity of wildlife-related careers. Applying for federal jobs, however, can be a daunting task. Sometimes it seems like you need to be an insider to understand all the terminology, rules, and specifics involved in applying for and securing a position with the federal government. In this presentation, an experienced federal hiring official from the local Ohio Chapter of TWS will explain the ins and outs of USAJobs and also other federal postings you may have seen on college job boards. Suggestions for creating successful applications that can get you on the list that is passed onto the hiring official will be discussed. Distinctions among different positions and grades and which ones you may qualify for will also be discussed. Anyone potentially interested in federal positions will benefit from the information and advice shared during this presentation.
3:40PM Sticky Situations – What Would You Do?
  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.
4:00PM Panel Discussion

Organizers: Merav Ben-David, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY; Quentin Hays, Eastern New Mexico University, Portales, NM; Lara Pacifici, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC; Susan Felege, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, ND
Supported by: TWS Conference Arrangements Committee

Location: Huntington Convention Center of Cleveland Date: October 11, 2018 Time: 12:50 pm - 5:00 pm