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Job Hunting Advice Requested

Started 14 days ago

I am currently looking for a field assistant type job, preferably doing research on land mammals anywhere in the world other than the USA. Unfortunately, because of COVID, these jobs have been extremely hard to come by and I doubt any will be available any time soon. Does anyone have any advice on what jobs/roles I can be looking for in the mean time please?

Here's my LinkedIn so you can see what experience I already have:

Hi Eden, I hope you are well! Thirza told me about your question here. I have never really been involved in research specific roles as such, so I am offering more generic advice. Apologies if these are elements that you already have considered. 

Firstly I would look at the role that you really want to, compare yourself to the person specification and consider where you currently could increase your experience - and then find a role, or project to help with this.

Secondly, consider a mentoring programme, A Focus On Nature are currently running a scheme along these lines and I am sure they are still open to this.

Thirdly would be to contact someone specifically who does the role you've always dreamed of having - and just flat out ask them. Most people in this sector are pleasant enough to give you time - and stalking profiles on LinkedIn is completely acceptable (I hope!). If you find someone who doesn't answer you within a week, try someone else.

There's a couple of links that I hope that will help, firstly my friend and I have a conservation podcast, the first episode has just been released and there is some career advice within this, even for those who have graduated;

Also - we recently hosted a virtual placement, and we had a great speaker - David D'Souza - who is not an expert in this sector, but an expert in career development. I think he gave some great advice within this, feel free to take a watch;

In terms of people - the only one I know who I'd suggest might help with some advice, is Richard Stafford (Prof at Bournemouth University) he is great at helping students with advice, his background is Marine but I'd think some of the principles would apply, and he is part of the BES committee, so may be worth giving him a try!

Anyway - I hope some of this helps!

Best of luck in your career and please don't hesitate to ask any more questions

Best wishes


Hi Eden, I just saw your post and Brian's response in the email digest. I've been working as a field / research assistant for the past 5-8 years, but with birds, not mammals. 

To add to Brian's great advice I'd say that even though your focus is land mammals, anything you can do to build or grow another field skill along side that will make you a stronger candidate, whatever the job. In my experience at least, being able to point to some familiarity with e.g. practical outdoors skills like navigation by GPS / map and compass, are often listed in job descriptions, are things that you can work on independently over time (i.e. no need to volunteer somewhere), and don't need a qualification in.

Some possibilities: birding / ringing, plant ID, map reading / navigation, a language, basic carpentry, R, using camera traps, cooking for others with limited ingredients (very key skill!).

I know you aren't interested in working in the US, but looking at their job sites now and then can still be worthwhile as there are often postings about positions in other places, such as South America and the Caribbean. There also seem to be more remote / online training and internships being posted now, so even though it's a US site, there are international and online opportunities that might be of interest. As Brian suggests as well, it's always useful to keep an eye on what kind of jobs are out there, what you're interested in, and highlight any knowledge gaps to work on - the US sites are a good resource for that as they seem to have a lot of land mammal work. 

US Wildlife / Fisheries jobs board:

US bird jobs: (included because I've seen a few online / remote data entry jobs pop up from PhD students in the EU and UK, especially over the winter. It's a bit flush with postings for spring at the moment, but worth keeping an eye on)

UK walking as part project with a larger goal:

UK bird ringing (hopefully they will reopen the 'find a trainer' section in spring):

Twitter can turn up some interesting things depending on who you follow, e.g. I don't know if you've seen this: but this is exactly the reason I joined twitter - someone running a cool bird project told me they'd had more than enough applicants after one post on twitter, that they didn't advertise it anywhere else.... Pretty frustrating, but worth bearing in mind!

One final thing that's maybe a bit left field: the New Zealand work / travel visa that's available to British citizens under 30: I know they only have one species of native mammal, and you're perhaps not interested in biosecurity work (, but! there are a lot of general ranger / field work type jobs over there as far as I can see, and Kiwis have a great reputation in the field work world for their skills, can-do / straightforward attitude, and the vision / success of their projects. I know it's not an option to go there this year, but I just mention it incase it's something to think about on a rainy day, especially as I imagine it would take some time and planning to sort out. I wish I'd known about it before I turned 30 (but I found out at 29)!

I would of course be happy to chat more, if helpful ( / 

Best of luck,