Conservation Careers | Six Years on…
Conservation Careers was launched on 30th September 2013, so today we’re celebrating our sixth birthday! We felt it was a great time to reflect on the Conservation Careers journey so far, and look forward to where we might be going…
The History of Conservation Careers
I set up Conservation Careers following a diverse career spanning 20 years working in wildlife conservation, both in the UK and overseas. During my work, like many professional conservationists, I’ve was asked ‘How do I get a conservation job?’
With the planet in urgent need of more people working to conserve it, I felt there really needed to be WAAAAAY better careers advice to help answer that key question.
Having worked in the Academic, Civil Service (Government), Private and Charities sectors, I understood their pros and cons and wanted to start my own Social Enterprise. A business which puts purpose alongside profit.
Done right, a Social Enterprise can really be a game-changer for conservation: agile, disruptive, scalable and fearless.
Charities do some of the most incredible work saving wildlife and are by far the biggest player in the movement. However, they are limited by the number of people they can convince to support their cause. Saving the world using our spare change isn’t good enough! This is where Social Enterprise can help, and why Conservation Careers is one of them.
Mission, Vision and Values
In order to give clear direction, we recently did a fun exercise to identify our Vision, Mission and Values as an organisation. Reflecting on our first five years, we committed to the following:
- Vision | A world where wildlife thrives
- Mission | To help conservationists achieve career success
- Open – We build trust through transparency and honesty; we’re open to new ideas.
- Agile – We learn and innovate quickly to achieve our goals and create impact.
- Collaborative – We work with others to reach our goals.
- Optimistic – We assume the best and are hopeful, encouraging and courageous. We’re not afraid of failure.
Why does this stuff matter? It really helps to make decisions, holds us to account and sets the culture of our enterprise. Important stuff, and something we’ll be using soon to define where we want to go over the next six years. More on that below…
When we launched Conservation Careers we focussed on showcasing the full breadth of job opportunities which were out there at the time. I firmly believed that the regular job boards were only showing a snap-shot of the full picture, and a site was needed to really bring them all together and to help job-seekers to find the right role.
To date, we’ve listed 22,489 conservation jobs on our site, and the rate is increasing all the time.
As I write, we currently have 593 live vacancies on our site (it’ll be higher once I finish this article…!) and we hope to share around 8,000 jobs, volunteer, internships, events and courses in 2019.
We’re also international, listing jobs and opportunities from across the globe, and recently expanding our reach into the US Conservation Job market.
Alongside our job listings, we worked hard to interview over 500 professional conservationists about their work, sharing their career stories, advice, tips and much more. Constantly seeking accurate, effective and evidence-based careers advice to help tackle our key question. These include conservation leaders such as:
- WWF Director General | Dr Marco Lambertini
- RSPB Chief Executive | Dr Mike Clark
- BirdLife International Chief Executive Officer | Patricia Zurita
- ZSL Director-General | Dominic Jermey OBE
- IUCN Director General | Julia Marton-Lefèvre
- Cambridge University Chair of Conservation Biology | Professor Bill Sutherland
- Blue Ventures Executive Director | Dr Alasdair Harris
- Conservation Optimism Director | Cheli Cresswell Sinclair
- Along with nearly 500 others here…
On 21st January 2018 we launched the Conservation Careers Podcast, and since then we’ve published 23 episodes so far, and are delighted to be rated 4.9 out of 5.0 on Apple Podcasts. What started as an experiment has become a core part of how we help people explore their career options, and form a plan of action.
- How to switch careers into conservation | Your top ten questions answered
- Conservation Internships and Volunteering | Finding the best opportunity for you
- Top turtle conservation internships
- Top 20 PAID or FREE Conservation Internships
- How to apply for a conservation job: our guide to nailing your next job
- The Ultimate Guide to 15 Key Conservation Jobs
Keep your eyes open for more Ultimate Guides coming soon.
In our second full year online, we took the bold decision to start charging for our service and launched our membership schemes for job seekers and career-switchers.
We’d spent over 1,500 hours developing the site, speaking to conservationists, sharing jobs and collating the best careers advice around. In order to produce a high-quality service we needed to invest in staff time and web development, and to find a sustainable model for growth.
Thankfully, our loyal audience understood why and recognised that the monthly costs were being kept as low as possible – starting at just £3 per month. Since launching, we’ve welcomed 7,104 members through our doors.
Launching our memberships allowed me to start spending much more time developing the site and our service. I went down from five days a week as Marketing Manager at BirdLife International, to just three days per week, freeing up time for Conservation Careers.
Then, exactly 1,196 days after Conservation Careers was launched, I went full time on 8th January 2017. It felt like a big day.
Conservation Careers wouldn’t be where it is today if it wasn’t for a large number of people who have supported us along the way.
We’ve had 75 amazing bloggers who have interviewed conservationists and written careers advice articles for the site. In return, we’ve helped them to refine their writing skills, promoted their work and networked them into jobs. The single question we ask of any volunteer blogger is ‘how will you benefit from writing for us?’ We’re excited to have welcomed our latest cohort recently and can’t wait to see their work.
One of our early bloggers recently become the second member of staff at Conservation Careers. Kristi Foster is one of the most talented writers that has contributed articles. After writing for us five years ago, Kristi went on to work for Ecotourism Australia, Fauna & Flora International (UK), the World Agroforestry Centre (Kenya) and in the Manu Biosphere Reserve, Peru. Having spotted her talents early, I was delighted to finally welcome her as our Head of Engagement in April this year.
In addition to the writers, we work with a diverse global team of job posters, developers, podcast editors and transcribers on a weekly basis. Karen, Hiral, Valentina, Jarryd, Matias and Andreea – thank you.
Being Open and Collaborative (see our core values), we’re always looking for partnerships to increase our impacts and to help more people.
One of the early partnerships we formed was with WildTeam UK, the leading providers of training in Project Management for Wildlife Conservation and Strategy Design for Wildlife Conservation.
In 2018, together, we crafted a special four-day workshop to increase people’s chances of employment within the competitive conservation sector. We help people to understand the job market, to navigate their career options, and to get hired more quickly. WildTeam UK helps people stand out from the crowd and get certified in Project Management for Wildlife Conservation.
It was a huge success and lots of fun. To date, we’ve now run four workshops together and are planning more for 2020 already, training over 100 people from nearly a dozen countries.
The workshops also served as a testing ground for our own online course, the Kick-starter for early-career conservationists, which is currently on its eighth cohort and had helped over 300 people to get clear and get hired as conservationists.
We’ve also enjoyed teaching at Cambridge University as part of the MPhil in Conservation Leadership. Each year we help mid-career conservationists from across the globe to reflect on their careers and form clear actionable plans to increase their happiness and impact. We’re looking forward to 2020 already!
Where next for Conservation Careers?
Since launching the site we’ve served a total audience of 987,407 people from 239 countries. It’s been fun to look back at Conservation Careers’ journey over the past six years, which have passed so quickly, and to reflect on where we might be six years from now.
In the short term, we’ve got some big plans which are VERY soon to come to fruition…
Firstly, we’ve just finished totally redesigning our membership schemes and are excited to soon launch our Conservation Careers Academy. The Conservation Careers Academy will contain the best career-boosting resources, training and support from the leading experts in the conservation industry. This includes jobs, training, experiences, a support community, classroom, career explorer, employer connect, live chat, careers advice, application and interview support and … ways to get paid!
At the same time, we’ve about to launch the biggest portal of Conservation Training courses online. We’ve identified nearly 1,500 training courses – including Degrees, Masters and Short-Courses. As part of the launch, we’ll be searching for the Top Conservation Training Courses worldwide. This list will spotlight the top conservation training courses worldwide, based on reviews from current and past participants.
Beyond that, we’re working on version two of our online course, the Kick-starter for Early Career Conservationists, and planning to expand the course to have a Spanish language version. We’re also starting looking into the conservation volunteer and internship space; seeking to provide better access to opportunities and information for people seeking experiences.
Recognising that our mission is to ‘help conservationists achieve career success’ a key part of our development going forward will be to start providing career support to professional conservationists – not just those seeking to gain their first paying role in the sector. What form this will take, I can’t be sure yet. But we’re excited to explore, innovate, test and scale soon.
Finally, we plan to start supporting other ecopreneurs to get their ventures off the ground. There’s been a recent growth in social enterprises seeking to aid conservation efforts, and we want to encourage more to start, and to see them grow. We recently launched an Ecopreneur Action Learning Group to support six exciting new ventures during their first period of growth. Learning from this, we’ll seek to support more next year and onwards.
Whatever happens next on the Conservation Careers journey, it’s going to be fun and we’ll continue to share our experiences, to listen to your views and to bring you along for the ride.
Nick Askew – Founder and Director