like many I went back to university as a mature student with the view to changing careers. I secured an internship with a well known charity after graduation, I have years of volunteering experience and professional experience however I’m struggling to find any work. The biggest problem I’m encountering is my age, all of the support schemes, grants, internships etc. available are for ‘young’ people (their words), there is no interest from any of the charities or NGOs I have contacted to hire someone over the age of 30. I have looked into support mentoring schemes and they cannot help- but equally couldn’t explain why my age was the deciding factor. This makes it incredibly difficult to even get an unpaid foot in the door. Like most I’m happy to work unpaid short term or on minimum wage but there seems to be very little opportunity.
Has anyone else experienced this and do you have any advice? Do you think more could be done to utilise the skills that career switchers already posses
Thanks for your question and yes we’ve heard this before.
Age really shouldn’t be a barrier in an ideal world – quite the opposite.
As a career switcher, you have a distinct advantage over graduates and early-career job seekers. Your career to date.
Through your career, you’ll have accumulated lots of skills and knowledge which may be transferred into conservation, and are sought-after by conservation employers.
For example, here is list of transferrable skills valued by employers:
- Verbal communication – Able to express your ideas clearly and confidently in speech.
- Teamwork – Work confidently within a group.
- Commercial awareness – Understand the commercial realities affecting an organisation.
- Analysing & investigating – Gather information systematically to establish facts & principles. Problem solving.
- Initiative/self-motivation – Able to act on initiative, identify opportunities & proactive in putting forward ideas and solutions.
- Drive – Determination to get things done. Make things happen & constantly looking for better ways of doing things.
- Written communication – Able to express yourself clearly in writing.
- Planning & organising – Able to plan activities & carry them through effectively. Be able to manage projects effectively.
- Flexibility – Adapt successfully to changing situations & environments.
- Time management – Manage time effectively, prioritising tasks and able to work to deadlines.
Chances are your work and experiences to date provide lots of evidence to potential employers that you have what they are looking for in terms of transferrable skills.
In addition to these softer skills, conservation employers will often be seeking knowledges, skills and experiences related to each specific role.
For instance, if you’d like to work in Countryside Management and work as a Wardens or Ranger then you’d need to demonstrate a knowledge of relevant species identification and often hold specific licences (e.g. chainsaw, nap-sack spraying, etc).
Understanding which role is right for you to target, and will provide a rewarding, challenging and fulfilling career is a vital step in order to understand what training or additional knowledge you may need to acquire in order to become employable.
Are you super clear on the job you’re looking to target? This will help you to identify any gaps, how best to fill them and to become more employable.
We have a guide coming out very soon to help career switchers like yourself. Keep an eye on our website.