Career advice from five Conservation Intern alumni
As I near the day when I will finally receive my long-sought-after degree, I constantly wonder, “How can I set myself apart from other young professionals coming up in the environmental sector?” Follow along as I speak with Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) Conservation Intern alumni for their thoughts on this question. No matter what career choice you make, this advice is sure to help you in your own professional journey.
1. Don’t underestimate the value of previous jobs and experiences you’ve had, even if they seem unrelated.
"Consider the specific skills you’ve gained and how they can relate to future positions. Almost all of your previous experiences can, in some way, be applied to your career path."
~ Megan Lafferty, NCC’s acting program director for Newfoundland and Labrador and former Conservation Intern
2. Don’t be afraid to take initiative.
"In my experience, when you show initiative, the people around you and the people you work with tend to see that as a good quality and are not afraid to trust you with new responsibilities. It can truly have a great impact on your career, and you never know the opportunity that will come to you because of your willingness to take on new challenges, no matter how intimidating they may seem. Have confidence!"
~ Eve Desmarais, head of real estate transaction services at Environment and Climate Change Canada and former Science and Stewardship Intern
3. Manage your “agreeableness.”
"Agreeableness is a personality trait related to kindness, sympathy, cooperativeness and consideration for others. I think everyone can agree these are good things, but it’s important to be aware that they can come at a cost.
"Several studies that have shown that highly agreeable people tend to get paid less, work more than their colleagues and struggle to move up in their organization. The truth is, it’s is okay to be disagreeable at work! Being disagreeable doesn’t mean being a jerk, and it doesn’t mean taking advantage of people to get ahead. It means being decisive rather than siding with people to avoid conflict, knowing where your moral 'line in the sand' is on an issue, having the courage to say no and sticking up for yourself.
"It also means that it’s okay to be critical. Being critical is how we improve things over time, and it’s an important part of growth and progress."
~ Josh Noseworthy, NCC’s director of conservation science for the Atlantic Region and former Conservation Intern
4. Expand your experience and think beyond what you think you want to do.
"Even if you are certain of where you want to end up in your career, it really helps to have a wide background of knowledge. And if you can set yourself up to have experiences in as many things as possible, you’ll be able to bring more to the table."
~ Claire Elliott, NCC’s coordinator of GIS for the Ontario Region and former Conservation Intern
5. Chase the positions that are available, no matter where they may take you.
"Don’t be afraid to relocate, despite how intimidating it might sound. If you're willing to follow the jobs, rather than waiting for jobs to come up in your area, it can open up new opportunities, provide exciting and unique experiences and can really kick-start your career."
~ Andrew Ryckman, senior biologist at Natural Resource Solutions Inc. and former Conservation Intern
NCC’s Conservation Internship Program offers a great opportunity to gain experience, connect with other professionals employed in the environmental sector and help steer the direction of your professional life. Be sure check out our website for the types of internships offered by NCC. Stay tuned for current internship opportunities, as many new positions will be offered across the country this fall, with varying start dates throughout September 2018.
The Conservation Internship Program is funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Summer Work Experience program.