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Don't let this issue damage YOUR wildlife career

Uncategorized Jun 23, 2021


Are you trying to get your foot in the door to your wildlife career? Over the past year I’ve seen so many painful stories from would-be wildlife professionals who despite their efforts just can’t seem to get a full time paid role.

Does that sound like you?

The struggle is real.

I hear you!

Wildlife work is a highly competitive field. There is a wealth of well qualified candidates for a limited amount of paid roles. Now with the added complications of Covid-19, it is even tougher. Funding is tight for organisations around the world, including key employers for wildlife roles.

Even before the pandemic, the wildlife career path was not an easy one for another reason: exploitation. The army of amazing people out there working for wildlife is incredible. Unfortunately, many of them are exploited in their quest for their dream wildlife job. I’ve witnessed this in the wildlife community, along with the damage it does to individuals and their wildlife careers.

Exploitation can happen to anyone, but students & those early in their careers are often particularly vulnerable. With tough competition to get into a wildlife career, many feel they must work hard & do all they can to get there. Sometimes those eager to gain experience fall into the hands of those who abuse their willing volunteers or employees.

In the EU, employees are protected from exploitation by the Working Time Directive meaning that employees are protected from being made to work excessive hours. In the ecology sector (a major employer of wildlife professionals) it is common for employers to ask their employees to ‘opt out’ of this. For those going into their first role in a competitive field, saying no is not easy. Those that agree to the waiver can find themselves being pushed into long hours & unhealthy working patterns.

Around the world, many organisations offer volunteering roles to those wanting to gain experience of working with wildlife. Some are reputable, some are not. Some charge, some don’t. Some offer valuable experience, some don’t. What is clear is that there is a high demand to sustain them: an army of willing volunteers ready to give up their time (and often money) to work with wildlife. These volunteers can be exploited in different ways: some are misled, some lose vast sums of money, some are overworked, some work for months or years on end with their hopes pinned on the promise of a paid role that never materialises.

There are lots of ways to progress in your wildlife career without being exploited. Yet many feel they must be willing to do anything to get to where they want to be, especially when they have already spent a substantial amount of time and money just to earn their undergraduate degrees. Eager to get that must-have competitive edge to win them their chosen role, too often recent graduates and those struggling to get a paid role allow themselves to be exploited. Going over and above may be laudible, but it can end badly. Many would-be successful wildlife professionals end up burned out, dissillusioned and/or in financial difficulty and as a result abandon their wildlife careers altogether.

Exploitation is damaging to wildlife workers & their careers.

Don’t let it damage yours.

Are you just getting started in your wildlife career? Join us for Wildlifetek’s Summer School Program where we will help you gain the knowledge and skills you need to get ahead in your wildlife career (without being exploited!).

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