Nationality: British (Welsh)
Location: Tioman, Malaysia
Profession: Field biologist
So about me:
It’s hard to become a conservation scientist
I studied Marine Biology and Coastal ecology at the university of Plymouth. And of course, like all undergraduates, I expected to land my perfect marine conservation job with hours of getting my degree. This obviously didn’t happen.
Cue years of volunteering and rubbishy sales and call centre jobs.
So while I was in a particularly terrible “make do” job, I decided I needed to make myself more competitive in the conservation job market. I went back to Uni in Plymouth and studied for a masters degree in zoo conservation biology. I absolutely loved this course despite the extreme poverty I had to endure to be able to study and do other essential things, like eat. I still have some uncomfortable issues re zoos but generally (well the good ones at least) are fantastic ex situ conservation resources.
So it’s 2008, I have loads of letters after my name…conservation jobs should come flooding in, right?
Wrong. Thank you economic downturn.
So it was back to call centres. Soul destroying after all the hard work I had put in to get my qualifications.
Then something amazing happened.
After my bachelors degree I spent some time volunteering for a turtle conservation group on Kefalonia in Greece (The Katelios group for the protection of marine and terrestrial life——I know…snappy title). While there I met some fellow marine biologists. Now 3 years later these connections lead me to discover a company called ecofieldtrips. An outdoor ecology and conservation education company based in Singapore but running trips mostly to Malaysia. Due to the contacts I had made volunteering and my qualifications (and being super awesome) I was offered a job. And that is where I stayed for 2 years.
In and out of the rainforest, reefs, magroves, seashore and being paid for it! Paid ACTUAL money. I spread the word and soon people I had met on my way came to join the company too!
I have now moved on and am about to start a new adventure in the middle east. And things are really starting to look up! At least I don’t think I will be in a call centre any time soon (please don’t make me go back there)!
So how do you make it in conservation?
I don’t know I’m still trying, but you definitely need to deal with the shitty times and not give up. Volunteer, I know it’s crap when you need to pay bills but the people you meet there are invaluable. Be prepared to go to where the work is, chances are it won’t land on your doorstep. Apply for everything! Even if the company isn’t hiring, send your CV anyway.
Oh and read my blog…cos it’s the dogs!