Podcast | How to get conservation experience?

Getting experience – whether volunteering, interning or even starting your own project – can do a lot for you in the early stages of your career. It can help you understand yourself, test drive different options, grow your network, demonstrate your passion and commitment to prospective employers, build your skillset and make you more employable.

But… how do you get experience of conservation when no one’s hiring you? If you can’t get a job without experience, and yet it’s hard to get experience without a job, it can feel like a vicious cycle…

In this episode we discuss how to get conservation experience, when you’re not working in the sector. Joining our host Dr Nick Askew is Dr Fernando Mateos-González of Bioblogía – or Nando he’s often known – and Dr Stephanie Schuttler from the world of Fancy Scientist.




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Nick Askew  0:07   

Okay, so welcome to this latest episode of the Conservation Careers Podcast. Thanks for joining us. This is becoming kind of a regular format for us now because joining us today our regular co-hosts, career superstars We have with us Dr Fernando Mateos-González from Bioblogia. And we also have Dr Stephanie Schuttler from Fancy Scientist. Hey guys, how you doing? Welcome everyone.  

Nick Askew  0:48   

We are at the very end of August right now, as we record, it’s the first of September tomorrow. So it’s still hot for us, definitely. But it’s starting to kind of turn slightly towards towards the ultimate listen. So yeah, it feels like a good kind of time to be reconnecting after quite busy summers, actually, I think probably for the three of us. So in terms of how this podcast works, if you’ve not heard this before, what we tend to do the three of us, we pick a topic, and we discuss it in more detail. I normally I would interview an individual would hear about their career stories, their advice. But in this format, we actually do pick one topic and the three of us kind of go deep sharing advice and thoughts around and hopefully they’ll be useful stuff for you guys, and in the audience that result from that. But before we kind of get into today’s topic, what we’re going to do is just have a quick update, really be kind of keen to hear what’s been going on with you guys. I mentioned it’s been in the summer now we sort of all been away doing various things. If we’re really not talked for a couple of months, something like that, maybe just under so it’d be really cool to kind of hear what’s been going down. So I usually say what’s been going on, and then there’s an awkward silence as to who’s going to kind of break first because we’re all very polite. You have to buy me a different one zoom. So I’m gonna say, Stephanie, what’s been going on with you recently. 

Stephanie Schuttler  2:03   

I have been having a lot of fun traveling. And it’s been non professional traveling. It’s been pretty fun for family time. So my family we take we started this this trend where we take an annual vacation. And so my traveling started when my niece I’m really close to my niece and nephew. She came to spend time with me in Raleigh. So I went to pick her up in Buffalo I drove. And we spent time in rally, we got to go to the Outer Banks, the beach, and I went back to Buffalo. And then we went to New York City. So I got to spend a couple of days there. That was really fun. And, oh, also so tomorrow, September, My birthday is in September, and I’m turning 40 this year, so and my dad, his birthday is in August, and he turned 18. So we had this combined birthday party for us when I was there. It was really fun. And, and yeah, just like and then just, you know, trying to keep up with my own podcasts and stuff. And I launched a mentoring program a couple of months ago. So talking to students about that and creating webinars and stuff for them. So yeah, that’s that’s about what I’ve been up to. 

Nick Askew  3:26   

busy times. And if you got much planned feel 40 for the big day. 

Stephanie Schuttler  3:31   

I like really wanted something big planned, but now I’m not sure what to do. So I need to think about it this weekend. But yeah, definitely I’ll celebrate the 30th. And I did I did a prom party. Everyone participated, like they all dressed up. And it was fun. It was really good time. That was when I was in graduate school. 

Nick Askew  3:57   

No, I have to wait and see what happens. My wife turned 42 weeks ago as well. So we’ve just celebrated hers. I’m like nunda I think we’ve both just pushed through. I mean, I’m 42. So on the other side, but yeah, for my wife’s birthday. She wanted to do like a weekend away without the kids which I was all in favor of. And we went cycling for three days. So it’s sort of like we had like a weekend we went to York, in the north of England and we cycled a big kind of triangle out to the walls than the malls and then back into York. Some hills. Nothing too extreme, but it was really nice and fun. So yeah, I hope you have a nice day too. Yeah. 

Nando  4:34   

Yeah, we cannot let it go like at my own 40th birthday party was killed by Corona and then I’m accumulating now all the birthdays that are delayed. Yeah, well, one software 

Nick Askew  4:51   

that’s gonna happen, isn’t it? Yeah. Yeah. You were having a big party last year, right? Yeah. Hey, whoa and what’s been going on? You’re in Nando’s. Hmm, 

Nando  5:01   

I’ve been traveling a lot. It seems, Stephanie that we got a push from the Coronado. Yeah, I went to Spain and say, finally saw my family, my friends, he was super nice. And then I went to Sweden because it was also four years since last time I was there. I used to live there. So I have lots of friends and we have been meaning to meet for many years, but everything was happening. So it was fantastic. It was fantastic. And now coming this last week, I’ve been working in the usual projects many things at the same time, but especially excited about next week and going to Romania to the hidden parts of the Carpathians mountain and in Transylvania and all of this just to Well, it’s like a mini-expedition to look for a Capercaillie and do a little census. So it’s, I can’t wait, I’ve been testing the hammock and preparing for the call. It’s gonna be it’s gonna be great. I looking forward to another adventure again. 

Nick Askew  6:12   

What do you need to what’s not known about Capercaillie you just done a survey of them? Or you know, what’s 

Nando  6:18   

the Yeah, it’s census numbers just to see what’s the population right now. So we go to certain locations that have been identified and then we try to to really get to the numbers. 

Nick Askew  6:31   

Right, right. And they’re quite a big bird, right? And they lack so they have like a pre breeding display area. They’re quite Yeah, 

Nando  6:37   

very spectacular, very spectacular. They are lots of fun to see in some sand get toy to the mood of showing off and showing how full of testosterone they are that they even attack people only a few once. But now usually in Spain, for example, they are pretty the populations are crushing. And it’s super sad. So on this on this side, like I’m, I’m looking forward to see them in Romanian and really get get a pump out of it. Maybe push a bit in Spain for conservation. Hmm, 

Nick Askew  7:16   

that sounds that sounds fun. Sounds like it’s gonna be good fun. Yeah. Here in the UK, we’ve only got Capercaillie up in Scotland that I’m aware of. We get them up there, seeing them once or twice. But he is interesting. Like you go to like Carpathian Mountains and Transylvania and I’m thinking kind of Dracula. You know, take you take your gun, just in case. Definitely rapidly like the Ozark Howler recently. So feels like we’ve got the kind of some sort of like, mysterious kind of window I’m going to do next month that’s going to my turn. 

Nando  7:46   

You have to choose something like that. This is a topic for October don’t like. So what are you flooded? Nick? What are you gonna do? That is scary. I 

Nick Askew  7:58   

don’t know, I don’t know the scariest thing. The exciting thing we’re talking about just before is my kids are all going to be at school as of next week. So I’ve got a seven-year-old or nearly seven. He’s already at school. And my two four-year-olds, they start I’m suddenly gonna have time on my hands. So that’s gonna be fun and scary at the same time how I feel that. 

Nando  8:16   

But I should just I wouldn’t care about how much output you produce. We 

Nick Askew  8:23   

certainly got more time to get more work done. It’s going to be really fun. Yeah. But yeah, stuff for my side, I guess it’s been really summers as well, where it’s been mainly for me sort of traveling. We’ve been to Wales as a family, family holidays really not really work stuff. We went to the Peak District as well, with my family from Leeds. And my immediate family too. So we’ve just been having lots of fun, really just traveling around seeing people being outdoors quite a lot, not get as much work as I would like. Yeah, see, see, we’ve been busy kind of working in the background, Christy has been especially busy as well run. So she’s been working on a new course for us about how to apply for a conservation job. And putting everything that we’ve learned the last few years kind of into a more step by step course for people. So we’re kind of excited to be talking about that in the next few weeks, probably. And we’re also we’re trying like a new online community platform as well. Moving away from kind of Facebook and communities like that and groups, but more into a new platform. It’s called circle. And it looks really, really super cool actually, about how we can kind of bring people in and interact with people in a in a kind of more meaningful, structured, deeper, less, less sort of scattered approach, I guess, that we sort of see in Facebook, I think when we’re in Facebook, we get all these notifications and distractions of other things. And actually, we can kind of bring people into an environment which we can control and manage and to much greater effects. I’m kind of really looking forward to that as well and kind of doing that as part of a new course. So now my feet back in the table, we kind of recommend for all guns blazing on that at the moment. But, yeah, it’s a little sad. Yeah, it’s exciting. Yeah. But also you talk about Capercaillie, and when you mentioned that I always think Scotland and I always think there’s a book called ptarmigan. As well, which is like a white grouse, you get upon the tops of mountains, a bit like a cascade, it must be a member of same family. And I had a story about it years ago about how people used to catch them, because you find the right supplements where you get the snow. And actually, climate change is kind of reducing their range quite rapidly, they’re actually shrinking in numbers up there. But what the guy what the people used to do is, is take like a big champagne bottle to the tops of mountains, and turn it upside down and press it into the snows that kind of makes that shape of champagne bottle of wine at the top of this shallow at the bottom, and sprinkle birdseed into it. And then these Tom again, would kind of walk along and look into this hole and see the birds and kind of reach in and whether this is, you know, an urban myth, I don’t know. They were then falling. And it’s like form the perfect shape of a time again, so the little feet will be kind of stuck at the top. And it goes pick them up. That’s that was kind of an old method for catching them. I don’t think it worked for Katie, but maybe. Wow, I really would love to see that in action. Take a champagne bottle with you. I need some snow. Wow. Wow. Well, okay, so on to I guess today’s topic. So we had a bit of a chat beforehand. And what we thought we’d focus on today is how do you get experience of conservation? when no one’s hiring you. So I think you know, people understand that, you know, getting experience, whether that’s like a volunteer position, or an internship or something else, a job shadow, or whatever that might be, or even starting your own projects. And like that helps you to kind of understand yourself, display your passion and commitment to prospective employers, helps us kind of test drive different options, build your skills makes you more employable, it does an awful lot for you, I think in the early stages of your career, but it can be a bit kind of circular, in terms of you know, it’s hard to get experience without a job. And yet, all jobs won’t experience it’s kind of like a sort of vicious circle, or like chicken and egg, or maybe capric, alien egg kind of situation where people can feel a little bit stuck. So we thought it might be kind of a good topic to kind of explore really the three of us, you know, what can what can people do to kind of, you know, get experience of conservation work, but before they’re kind of working in the sector already. So they’re kind of, you know, looking to kind of get some hands-on experience, but a feeling a little bit stuck or lost, you know, or unclear as to where to go. So Nando, you suggested that as a topic, I think it’s a great topic for us to kind of get stuck into so do you fancy kind of kicking us off with your thoughts around that, like, what could people be doing or thinking about? 

Nando  12:50   

I was just before starting the podcast, I went on a very short bike ride, just it was when I had free time, and I started thinking, maybe I should think about this topic every day and not just winging it. And then I, I thought that a fun way, I don’t know if you will be up for it. But a fun way could be to, to think of the most sought after jobs, at least or what people ask us about the title No, usually this job offers in marine science or, or marine conservation or things like that, and give ourselves some examples of jobs that are very popular, and what would you do to get experience in those jobs that you just started? And you couldn’t have access to them? So we will first I mean, use them as examples. For example, that one like like a job in marine conservation, or in you could suggest a few more, you? Which ones are the most, the most popular in conservation careers? 

Nick Askew  13:58   

Yeah, you’ve hit the nail on the head, really, that the most popular and look at the stats in terms of average pageviews per job category is marine conservation. That’s a real kind of hot one. So maybe that’s a good and I don’t work in marine, you guys don’t typically either. So maybe that’s kind of a nice neutral space, actually, for us to kind of brainstorm around. I love the idea. Yeah. 

Nando  14:19   

And then we can think of different ones and put ourselves to the test and see how what would you do for example, it’s definitely what would you do if you were starting from zero? And then you will love to get a job in the conservation but on the marine side, like in 

Stephanie Schuttler  14:38   

conservation, and just in terms of getting experience? Um, well, I tip that I have talked about before that I really like is that there’s a lot of citizen science projects out there. And so these are real scientific facts. projects and they, you know, scientists run them. And then usually, there’s publications that come out of them. So it, you do usually have to apply. And you might have to like pass a test and stuff like that to make sure because it’s real science. So they want to make sure that you’re collecting data in the right way. But you don’t need like a certain level of experience to apply for it, you can just be a regular person not have any scientific background at all. So I think that’s a really great way for people to do that. So they can go on site starter.org. That is a database of citizen science projects. And they can do projects in person like I know. So like, for marine example, I know there’s a project out, and I think it’s California called coast, I forget what it stands for. But it’s about seabird mortality. So the volunteers, they walk along the beach, and they document if they find any dead sea birds, and I believe, I think they do live sea birds too. So it’s like surveys as well, I’m not sure the details. Sorry about that. But you know, volunteers go to the same space over and over again. And they’re collecting data and it like, again, it’s just regular people. So that could be a great way. And depending on how big the citizen science project is, some of them are, you know, worldwide like he bird. And if you might have a hard time accessing a scientist, but a project like that, that’s in a more local area, you can maybe get to know the scientist who’s running it, and show yourself as what what we call that our citizen science project, a super volunteer. And yeah, and actually, a lot of the data collected comes from those super volunteers across citizen science projects. So you’ll have, you’ll have a huge participation, or a lot of different people participating. But then it really is like, I can’t remember the figures. But something like you know, 5% of the volunteers are the ones who are doing it over and over and over again. And so so yeah, that’s a really great way. And if you can’t access like, say, you say you’re in Illinois, or the middle of middle of the country, and you can’t access the ocean, there’s, there’s virtual projects that you can do as well. So I don’t know what they would be for marine. But I don’t know, maybe there’s something with identifying with whales by their tail marks or something like that. looking at pictures. I know there’s a deep, a deep sea explorer one, where you categorize the different species on the deep sea floor that were taken with photographs. I know there’s a penguin one as well. Penguins from aerial photos. So um, so yeah, I think that’s a really great way to get started. 

Nando  18:07   

And this is one you mentioned website that collects and aggravate diseases. 

Stephanie Schuttler  18:12   

Yeah, so it’s OSI starter calm. So s c, I like science. And then the word starter zooniverse is another good one to buy. But yeah, there’s and then I don’t know about checking in locally, but I’m sure googling and stuff like that you can probably find something as well. Or contacting your, your local organizations and seeing if there is a way that you can help. 

Nando  18:39   

I like I like when you mentioned that 5% of the volunteers produced most of the data. This is a fantastic way to to make yourself visible like if you are Yeah, no this 5% like for sure they will they will know your name they will know that you work for Yeah. 

Stephanie Schuttler  19:00   

Yeah. And even if you’re not interested in a career in in marine science, like Like you said, the people running the project, they’re really going to pay attention to you and they might reach out to you and say like, okay, we we would like you we want to expand this project North Would you be able to train volunteers there and I mean, that’s something huge to add to your experience that you were trusted to train new volunteers and that shows a leadership role. So So yeah, if you can if you can make yourself seen even if you never interact with a scientist you just do a really good job and keep producing a lot of high quality data then then they will notice you talking to anyone 

Nick Askew  19:44   

and absolute stacks of good advice. So should we just got it laid out? 

Nando  19:52   

It’s perfect. I liked it. When you mentioned that if you cannot access the see that or, or, or the place where they are working. That’s a really difficult situation but but also this this example you mentioned of identifying, for example, whales by the, by the fins. I think I use that as an example at some point and, and you can train on your own in your computer with specific programs that they use to do this. So even like for people that are applying for one of these jobs, if if you demonstrate with your computer that you have been used in this program, you go over all the people that, for example, live by the shoreline and, and then they have access to, to all the work but but they maybe never heard of these programs, they never trained. But if you, you create that experience for yourself by either no using photographs from the internet, and then learning how to use it, and you can add that line to your CV, then you are lots of steps forward in front of all the other candidates. 

Nick Askew  21:09   

And identification skills are so in demand, I think across the sector, but I think particularly within the kind of marine environment, too. My wife works as a marine conservationist, and has done for like 20 years. And she manages a team of people who collect and interpret kind of marine data that’s collected and loaded different ways. Some of it’s like GIS kind of Spatial Mapping, just looking at different GIS layers and interpreting what might be there. But they also send boats and ships out quite regularly, and they can do videography, filming of the marine seabed, do grab samples, they do all sorts of stuff. And they struggle to hire really good people with good identification skills. If they if the graduates are coming out, you know, with a good kind of degree or even a Master’s within marine conservation, that’s great. And if they got good at this identification skills as well, or data analysis skills, like AR and things like that we talked about before, then they’re really in demand actually. So if you can get those sorts of skills, I mean, she works for j NCC joint nature conservation committee here in the UK, it’s like a government agency, but they sat on a huge mind back catalogue of years and years of pictures and imagery, you know, which party only a portion of which has been properly studied and analyzed. So you know, there might be opportunities for people to kind of get involved in connect with these sorts of agencies to actually jump in, do some analysis, get your skills up to speed, you know, and it makes you more employable, you know, off the back of it, links to something that I would maybe suggest as well around this, which is, if you’re looking for experience in marine or or other actually sort of being clear about what sort of experience you want in the first instance is a really good kind of firm foundation, if you will, to see the rain, maybe you want, I don’t know, experience of handling boats, or doing die surveys or identifying Melissa, I don’t know what it you know, the question is, What experience do you want, I think is quite useful in the first instance. And then once you’ve got that clarity, I need, this is something I need, because it’s more global, I want to know more about it, whatever it is, I need experience, I want to test it. From there, ask yourself, well, who out there does this particularly well, you know, who are the mollusc identification experts that are out there, or, or whatever, you know, identify the organizations, and then the people doing that and see if you can’t connect with them at some level, can you know, get in touch, write them a personal email, find them on LinkedIn, find their email address on Google, write them an email and say, you know, you’re interested in that work for x y&z reasons, you know, would they be able to have a quick chat about their work so you can find out more, it’s an it’s a career path you’re interested in. And I think people might be amazed at the response you might get through that a lot of people are quite open and quite happy to jump on a Skype or zoom or whatever for you know, 20 minutes, half an hour, have a quick chat, share their thoughts and advice help someone along. And that could easily then become a deeper relationship, which you know, leads to you helping them with a project they’re involved with, you could be a volunteer or an intern or something like that you’re working slowly, slowly towards something like that and getting experienced because what that will do is connect you with someone doing exactly what you need, who’s doing it really well, and sort of embeds you within that area of the sector as well. They can sort of network out from there too. So I think that applies to anything but it certainly applies to marine as well. It’s sort of like direct creating your own opportunities by networking, but it takes a bit of guts to kind of put yourself out there you know, and connect with people and you know, and be confident around that as well. 

Nando  24:34   

So difficult one but certainly productive we can work very well. Opening Doors through people I guess. We can we can take advantage of of unique How do you know or remember how your wife started?  

Nick Askew  24:51   

Yeah, yeah, observation before my time. But I was gonna mention that so thank you. Yeah, yeah, so she, she studied zoology at uni. Here in the UK, she went to Cambridge, and, and what and she became quite interested in, in marine conservation specifically because during her summers she do like expeditions which were partially funded by her college. Now, if you’re University, it’s worth just scoping out whether there are funds internally that might help you to go out and sell these projects that are available out there. She did it for Operation Wallacea, which is like a scientific research expedition, where you pay an amount to go off and do some survey field work somewhere, and they have kind of forest expeditions, but they also like marine conservation expeditions. So she went to unsureness. And later, also Malaysia across two different summers, and spent just weeks doing kind of dye surveys, you know, out on the kind of reefs in those places, and through that just fell in love with kind of tropical diving, essentially, and marine conservation off the back of that so. And then then she sort of did research topics around that did a Master’s as well, where we met in New York. And then from there, she connected to JNCC, where she still works. So I think it’s very much the kind of the, the operation wallacea experiences, which were, you know, so funded by the, by her college that really kind of, you know, got her connected her passion and also gave a really good, relevant experience, like weeks and weeks and hundreds of dives, essentially, you know, Donnelly’s master type level stuff that helped to kind of get into the sector. So and those things, and it’s worth saying, now that those things are out there, one way of getting experience is just to pay for it, right, obviously excludes a lot of people that can be very expensive, as well as loads of caveats that come with it. There are good guys, there are bad guys in the market. So he’s gonna be super careful. But it is a way of getting experience when no one else is kind of offering it to you. 

Stephanie Schuttler  26:50   

What do you think about like learning things on your own, because before we came up with the marine example, something that I remember a lot from entry level jobs is a lot of plant identification. And, I mean, usually, it’s really specific to a certain area. But if you want to get a job, where you live, and you notice, there’s a lot of jobs requiring that. Like, can you learn how to identify the key plants on your own and would that count as experience like when would an employer see you as competitive, if you are to mask it out by yourself? 

Nando  27:31   

For that, I have a great example, which is a friend of mine who is very keen on on this platform, I naturalist, he, he really enjoys going out with the phone or with the camera, he does it with the proper camera and then geo locates the the images. And then he spent, like other people spend hours on Facebook, he does it in his own natural history, social media platform, which is a naturalist. So over the years, he has collected a lot of identifications He not only he he produces his own his own photographers, his own photos, but also he he looks at the photos of other people and helps them identify the plants or the animals that are there. So then he is he is very high in the ranking world ranking of the best ID people in in this platform. And that’s that’s an excellent way to showcase your ability because you can go to any job and say yes, I have I helped identified 9000 species to all these people over the years. You can see it here you can see my stats, and you can compare with other people. And this and this he used for a job he got in in Canada, where they were looking for people that were very, were very good at identifying identifying things, all kinds of biodiversity with a natural list. And I think I mentioned it in some other podcasts but he It was a job for the whole summer two months traveling around national parks in Canada just using taking photos and uploading them to I naturalist to to show the biodiversity of this national parks. And everything was paid Of course and he got a very very nice salary. And he was four he was just a holiday. They were fantastic and he couldn’t prove all of this just using his phone. So it’s a it’s a great idea if you want to work with plants for example to go and create your own project in a natural is you can create actually projects that you do are certain rules and say I’m gonna sample all the all the Audubon parks in my city and then you go there and then you create a project that you can then use as a link and say look, these are all the common plants of my city. And then you can show that and even create other stuff from this like a book or or create a PDF or, or another resource and having these to showcase I mean, you in that case you create your own experience in your own free time. It’s it’s a great way to do it to live that’s 

Stephanie Schuttler  30:26   

Yeah, that’s a really great example like you said that you can do it whenever you want. I naturalist is not timed at all. I apologize if you can hear some hallelujah. Dark been bad. Um, but I also love the metrics part of it, because that was my big concern like telling people like, okay, you can learn plants or species locally. But how do you convey that to an employer without being like, Oh, just trust me. I know. Having that external validation and metrics, that’s a really great way for, for people to do that. 

Nick Askew  31:03   

Yeah. And there are quite a few interviews I had at the beginning of my career both during the interviews, and the people interviewing me actually got specimens and said, Can you identify that please? I almost phone RSPB like science research project officer role for cell buntings is not bird. And they just got like a bunch of plants out the gardens around RSPB headquarters and put them in front of me said, you know, identify as many as you can in the next two minutes. And I had to go, Oh, this is this, this is maybe that this isn’t maybe another and I didn’t know by any means all of them. But that even if you don’t know, just keep talking, I want to hear what’s in your head is what he said to me, I want to hear what species are kind of going through your head and get a grasp of you know, how well you know, these grasses or whatever. And the same when I went for a consultancy role to they sat down and played me a PowerPoint, which is the images of birds, and also just calls of birds as well, like no image, just listen to this and tell me what it is. And both times you kind of go away thinking well, that’s the way to do it isn’t if you’re an employer, and you need to and you can do these, identify these species or have these particular skills, you sit them down and interviewing you test them, you know, and, and I think however, you’ve learned that whether that’s on I naturalist, maybe that’s just on your own in your back garden now with a field identification book, or whatever it might be. If you come to a test, then that will stand you in good stead, I think Yeah, and you don’t need to be perfect, but you know, it doesn’t take much to be a lot better than most people, I would say if you can specialize in a certain area that interests you, and also connects to a job that you want, you know, so for me like grasses were really important. So, you know, I kind of got half decent grasses, and that that’s only helped a couple of times. And I think that yeah, that is a good way of doing  

Nando  32:44   

this, I will start also specializing in a certain group, it’s easy, easy for you, because you get the interest on the focus on on one group. And then you can learn for example, I don’t know how many legs really a little bit, they have the same sector, well, this group of insects have. And then, and then you can really get better at it if you if you focus on it. And also through that specialize in a lot, you get to know the other experts. For example, one good thing about dynatrace, and I guess, all the other platforms is that you can interact with other people. And for example, I have had it in my own account very often that someone gets very excited about one of my observations, and then you start a conversation about the animal or the plant. And then and then you’ll get to know these people and they serve as your context for any other things you want to do. One day I was working here, and I mean a little village in the Czech Republic and I was walking outside and I found a very interesting plant that I didn’t know. And I added it to a natural list to see if someone will help me identify. And then someone from university in the US contacted me asking if I could please send a sample of that plant to another university in the Czech Republic, because they were studying this this group of plants. And then I mean, just like that by random luck. And just by noticing this special plan, you get a contract in a project like like it’s definitely worth mentioning before. So it’s, it’s it’s another way, a very subtle way of putting yourself out there and creating this disconnections. 

Stephanie Schuttler  34:38   

Something similar happened to me to where I do I naturalist just for fun and just like, you know what, I see something. I put it up there and I found a pygmy rattlesnake in eastern North Carolina. And I think through Twitter, I think I tweeted about it. So it was exciting and somebody from the From the Wildlife Resources Commission contacted me about the photo and asking if they could use it and just some more information about it. So if I wanted to become a herpetologist, that would have been, you know, a great way to start a conversation. 

Nick Askew  35:13   

That’s really great. And somebody mentioned it as well, Nacho Nando. So I want to kind of circle back on was about projects as well, like if someone’s like, trying to get experiences and you can kind of connect to projects that are already out there. Or like you said, in AI, naturally, you can start your own project, but even beyond dynatrace, you can just start a conservation project on something you’re really interested in. So if you wanted to kind of work in the marine environment, you know, what could you do, you could start your own beach cleanups, you could start your own coastal surveys for dolphins and whales, or seabirds or something else you could start campaign I guess, to kind of clean up plastics from this, I don’t know this, there’s so many things that you could actually start yourself and almost document what you’re doing around free starting a project or maybe do as part of like a blog or something but like document was doing and maybe try and get other people involved in it too. Maybe it could be a Kickstarter, maybe someone raised some money around something particularly as well. You know, that I think there’s something around it shows initiative, it shows passion and commitment, it shows drive, you know, I think employees would really like it, you know, that I think it helps you to kind of also just to kind of to do some of this really, of particular interest to you like uniquely and you should be excited and passionate about that that thing, whatever that might be. A project I started in the past was just a barn out box project, you know, which which snowballed into more work for me, you know, later in my life and, and that was just fun at the start, you know, building boxes and putting them in trees and then seeing what was in the boxes and before you know, there are elves there and then Off you go, you know, I think there are small things we can all do even locally that you know can really get you experiencing kind of get you get you going to sort of bear that in mind. 

Stephanie Schuttler  36:53   

Did you do that before you were a scientist like before you went through official training and stuff. I 

Nick Askew  36:58   

did it whilst at uni? Yes, I sort of thought so whilst at uni is I guess another thing as well, I helped to run the conservation volunteer group, your university conservation volunteers why you see the we were called and there was like maybe 20 of us went out every Sunday, weekends and we’d go out to local nature reserves, and we’d dig ditches and copy’s hedges and do whatever needed to be doing basically, it’s just good fun. But we knew, you know, doing some good at the same time. Through that I got to know the managers of these reserves. And when birding with them, they became friends. And then through that, I started to put nest boxes up for birds and barn owls were particularly prevalent in the area. So it kind of one thing kind of led to another led to another. It’s nice when you link the dots. Yeah, I link it looks to me like being outside doing practical stuff. And wood work. I love wood works like my other passion. So to me, like a bird box is like the perfect project, you know, so I really enjoyed it, you know, and I think anyone listening, maybe there’s things you could do as well, which is really either practical, or it could be online, it could be all sorts of things. But it might be something that you could like start yourself.  

Nando  38:05   

The great thing about personality jobs, personal projects, they want to start out on your own and you think on your own and is that they make you stand up so much more. In front of all the other candidates, like most of the people are trying to find their experience through things that are already organized through volunteering, through internships, all of all of them. Very, very establish and clear and very often you get, you get a job advert and then this recruiter will get a lot of people and many of them will have done the same, the same internship for example, but then the eyes will will go directly to the person that started he his or her own project, thinking by him or herself. And that that makes much more it’s much more visible. I have been I have been listening to a lot of data science podcast lately. And very often they interview recruiters to see what what are the recruiters looking for. And they say that beyond training beyond anything like all this, by the No, I’ve been working at Google and Facebook and whatnot. Now they look at people that in their free time are excited enough to start their own data science projects. And this is this of course doesn’t apply only to data science but any other conservation role everybody. Any any recruiter will look at your CV and and the eyes will light up if they see that in your free time and you are a geek enough. Good enough to start your own thing with a naturalist or going to the park or trying to to clean your local beach. This is this is Much more efficient. I will say that even paying for your for your experience. 


Main image credit: Alliance for a Sustainable Amazon.


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