Employers recognize that you are focused on your class work and getting good grades during your college years. However, after graduating you need to stand out from the crowd. Here are five tips to bulk up on your job skills and other knowledge that will grab the attention of a prospective conservation employer.

Do an extracurricular activity.

1. One way to stand out is to do an extracurricular activity or two that highlights your interest in the sciences. According to David Buggs, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, “prospective employers are impressed when an applicant has accomplished something that is in addition to their class work.” While doing something extra requires time and energy on your part, there are opportunities to do field work or research; to participate in science events held at your university; to make a presentation on a topic that is conservation-related; or to join an environmental club. By doing these types of activities you show interest and dedication to the sciences, and set yourself apart from your peers when applying for jobs or internships.

2. Learn how to apply your skills.
You are more marketable if you have practice putting what you have learned in college in a work environment. Employers want to hire college graduates that know how to put what they have learned into action. Internships and practicums are excellent ways to acquire the hands on experience that bolsters your resume. Volunteering during the year or summer to do field work or research can also provide meaningful experience. In addition, many schools offer chances to develop relevant abilities through on-campus activities. Often overlooked by science majors is practicing their communication skills. Every employer, regardless of what the job they want to fill, wants to hire someone who has excellent written and verbal communication skills. So join a public speaking club or work for the college newspaper. Strong communication skills are on the top of the skills list when employers are looking at your resume. Whatever you want to do, there are always opportunities on campus and with outside organizations to apply your skills.

3. Get an internship.
As a college student do you ever wonder if you really know whether a conservation career is what you want to pursue, whether you have the right courses for the job market, or whether you can cut it in the working world. What better way to find out then to do an internship. Dr. Eleanor M. King, Department of Sociology and Criminology at Howard University, suggests that “getting hands on experience in a conservation organization is invaluable”. Many conservation organizations, including federal and state agencies and environmental organizations, offer internships during the school year and the summer. Not all internships are paid, but the important thing about an internship is to gain experience in your field. In addition to that experience, you will gain confidence, practice your job skills, and start networking. Even if you have an incredible GPA, or not, employers want to hire college students with work experience. They will be impressed with your resume that includes a description of what you did during your internship. So look for opportunities for an internship and make sure you are among the first to apply for the next cycle of internship applications. Also remember that you will want to update your resume to make sure that it is relevant to the internship to which you apply.

4. Market yourself.
Marketing yourself means letting prospective employers know that you exist. You can begin to make connections to the conservation field while you are still in college. Make an effort to build connections to the conservation community. Going to annual conferences held by different conservation organizations, like The Wildlife Society or Minorities in Natural Resource Conservation, or becoming involved with your local environmental clubs can help build your network in order to demonstrate your conservation expertise. Another way to market yourself is to work with a professor or environmental organization to do field work or a research project. Building relationships with professors and biologists can develop into future job opportunities and career connections.

5. Use your career center.
Like the name implies, college career centers are there to help you get ready for your career. Need to get a resume prepared, write a cover letter, or practice your interview skills, career centers have your back. Career centers also provide job-search services and host on-campus career fairs. They also know about internship opportunities and other campus related work. Taking advantage of assistance with your career can take a lot of the pressure off of you when you are starting to build a conservation career.

By following one or more of these five tips can help you land a job in the field of conservation.

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