The Back-Up Plan

Probably one of the most important things you can do as a field biologist is have a back up plan. Research is incredibly expensive. The kind of expensive that it could cost you $10,000 per day just to rent a boat expensive. Continue reading


Show your Face

I love this picture of Duke… I needed an excuse to post it in my blog :).  On to business… We are talking about interviews.

If you have an interview, do your absolute best to be there in person!  I feel very strongly about this.  Many people get hired through phone interviews, but there is something about human connection that gives the in-person interview an advantage. One of the most important things is that you could be equally qualified with someone else but if it is between you and the other person who does a phone interview, you will most likely get the offer. Especially if you smile a lot!  It also shows that the interview is important to you.  Continue reading

Team Players

As a biologist, we often wear many hats. One may specialize in something such as the reproductive biology of Red Drum, for example, but that doesn’t mean you are only going to do that for the rest of your life. Maybe if you are a professor and that is your primary research, but if not, you may find yourself doing a little of that and a lot of other things. It’s important that as you go through school and are interviewing for jobs to keep your mindset open to new things and be willing to work on other projects. Continue reading

Things I’ve Learned from being the Interviewer

Being a supervisor means that I get thrown into lots of familiar situations but with a different viewpoint, and one of them is the hiring of employees!  We do not hire often, but it just so happened that we had a position open recently.  I have now moved from being the one interviewed to the interviewer.  I think common sense would tell you what kinds of things employers see favorable in future employees, but now I’m hearing things from the horse’s mouth.  I have also surprised myself in little things I pick up from the candidates and how they affect my judgment of them.  I hate to put it that way, but it’s true.  So here are a few things I picked up over the course of the interviews… some expected and some unexpected.  I hope they are helpful!

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Get Ahead Mini-Series, Part 2 “Volunteer”

Part 2 “Volunteer”

I wanted to get into this topic on a deeper level.  I mentioned the importance of this in Part 1, but it’s worth a second time around.  There are so many beneficial aspects of volunteering.
For one, it’s our social duty.  We should always be giving back – but we all know this and I don’t need to go there.
It broadens your skill set.  Didn’t know how to plant marsh grass before?  Now you do!  Time is precious and limited, so if you can volunteer in the field you are trying to get in to, do that!  For example, there are so many beach clean ups, marsh/wetland plantings, and labs that need volunteers around here.  If they don’t advertise it, ask them if they need any help.  Ideal situation – if you can volunteer, or better yet, be a student worker (get paid!) at a place you would like to work or someplace similar, it’s like Mario getting the mushroom (too old school?).

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Get Ahead Mini-Series

Get Ahead Mini-Series

Some people get hired for a specific role, but it seems a lot of people (including myself) enter this field to do the lagniappe – Cajun for “leftovers”, or the miscellaneous jobs.  Most biologists have a specialty due to their grad school thesis and field/lab experience, which is great when the agency is looking for exactly that person, but sometimes you have to look beyond your specialty and be willing to work your way there.  I think this is one reason it may seem intimidating when looking for a biologist job.  This is how my story began.  I’m going to write a mini-series on how to take advantage of this situation and get where you want to be!  I don’t claim to know all, but I will share my observations and real-life experiences with you and I hope it will help you in your journey.

Part 1.  “Networking”.  Get to know people.


So many jobs are landed through word of mouth.  I know social media is key these days… but don’t ignore actual, real, face-to-face relationships!  Other than being plain old good for the soul, developing relationships broaden your world.  You meet people who know other people, who know other people, see where I’m going?  For me, my husband’s boss knew someone who worked at a research lab and put me in touch with that person.  I just went for a tour but ended up finding out they were hiring, and Bam.  I wasn’t just words on a page, I was a person with a face to my name, and a personality with recommendations from those close to them.  One thing is key- you can’t just stop at saying hello.  Get to know people and take it a step further… attend events, volunteer, get out of your comfort zone.  If I had never taken a tour of the lab, I probably would have never gotten hired.  I had little experience at the time, fresh out of college.  Why would they hire me?

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