suggestion is to come up with reasonably clear ideas about what you want
to do, where and how. Ideally, you should aim to something that feels important,
but also feasible based on your skills.
miss opportunities to gain experience. Try to participate in some
field or lab activities, doing work as close to your passions as possible
to get practical experience on that particular subject (this may include lab work,
field work, writing, photography, statistics, or even management, environmental policy and public
awareness). If you 'feel good' doing something, then you may
have found your own specialty. Go for it, and try to develop a specific
not rely exclusively on emails and CVs. Sending an email may be an appropriate first step, but then try to meet the relevant people
in person: visit them at their offices, attend marine mammal
and marine conservation conferences, visit institutes and NGOs.
courses and expeditions proposed by various research organisations can be a way of developing basic skills and finding how
you feel working on cetaceans on a boat or at a field station. These courses may offer a chance to talk with researchers and students, and get valuable advice. If possible, try different experiences
and research groups before deciding what works best for you. In any case,
do not put everything in somebody else's hands: the choice should
a general rule, you have better chances of success if you do something
based on enthusiasm and passion, and you do not lose sight of your goals
along the way.
READ as much scientific literature as possible, to know everything about your specialty (and beyond)
GET TO KNOW the key players in person and pay attention to their views
ATTEND marine science and conservation conferences and workshops
VISIT cetacean laboratories, universities, NGO headquarters, museums, libraries, research centres, field stations etc.
PARTICIPATE in field courses and expeditions
SUBSCRIBE to e-mail lists such as marmam and ecs-talk
LEARN from your peers (pay attention to what they do, and ask questions)
BE CREATIVE and develop uncommon skills that can benefit your work and career (and bring extra rewards)
Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson
WRITE as much as you can, and develop an appreciation for style, synthesis and lack of typos
COMMIT to what you do, and spend time and effort actually doing it
FOCUS on something meaningful
Any scientist who wants to make important discoveries must study an important problem.
-- Peter Medawar
DO YOUR BEST and don't fall in love with your own work too soon: there may be still something you can do to make it better
"I have done my best." — That is about all the philosophy of living that one needs.
You submit an application to be accepted as a student, be recruited as a field assistant, be hired for a job, etc. You add an elegantly-written, error-free cover letter. You attach a stylish and informative CV, carefully prepared to let your skills come through. You list your conference presentations and publications, formatted according to a consistent and standard citation style. Will that be enough?
Perhaps not. Those who receive your application may want to know more about you, and they are likely to google your name to look for additional information that may help them understand who you are. They may search for your Facebook profile and look at your timeline, check who your friends are, browse your posted photos, the groups you joined, or even your music preferences, the books and movies you like. That is when they find that image of you looking slightly drunk, that politically-incorrect statement, that link to a gross or stupid video.
You say: 'but that's my private life! I can do whatever I want!' Yes you can, but by the time that part of you is posted online it also becomes a part of your professional profile—as soon as it is spotted by someone who aims to evaluate you professionally. Anything that you would not want to have included in your CV should probably not be posted online. Unfortunate as it may seem, those things become 'part' of your CV, or at least it's how they may be perceived by those expected to evaluate you as a potential candidate.
Needless to say, individuals will never be defined by the way they appear on the internet, let alone by the way they look (beautiful, ugly, the colour of their skin, the way they dress). The culture you belong to, your religion, spiritual inclinations, sexual preferences and so on, should not matter to your employer (and if they do matter, then it may be a good idea to look for another employer). However, your personality, attitudes and skills are relevant. Be aware that those expected to evaluate you can only come to a decision based on what they see and find, including online. So make sure they find something interesting, which helps you make a good impression.
The way you look online has become increasingly important. Marine biology is a competitive field and to make sure you stand above the crowd you may want to improve your online profile, too. It isn't just about you: in a selection process your data will be compared with whatever is available about others, your competitors. If your competitors look better, one of them will be chosen. A professor or an evaluator cannot be blamed for wanting to know as much as possible about the individuals who asked to join their team.
How can you improve the way you look online? Consider starting a Blog if you don't have one yet, or post your best photos on Flickr. Show yourself 'in action', doing something interesting. Let your skills, your style, your creativity and your passions become apparent. Show your desire to engage and commit to what matters to you. Balance and fine-tune all that as carefully as you can: you don't want to be viewed as someone who just wants to show off. In some cases, you may consider posting a selection of your essays, your music and artwork, anything. Even your CV, no matter how short, may be posted online with the addition of photos and links complementing the text.
You are really marketing yourself here: focus on the bright side. Smile. Try to imagine being one of those who receive your application amidst a bunch of other applications, and make clear why you should be someone's first choice. Should anyone write your name on Google, something really appealing and unique should come to surface. You want them to say 'Wow! This is the person I would love to have as a student or collaborator!' Try that, try anything creative, and see if it works.
Advice by George Monbiot. It relates to environmental journalism, but is more generally valid.
Clapham P. 2005. Publish or perish. BioScience 55(5):390-391.
Saving the earth as a career: advice on becoming a conservation professional
by Malcolm L. Hunter, Jr., David Lindenmayer and Aram Calhoun.
Advice for people interested in a career studying marine mammals
by Robin W. Baird
Surviving professional puberty in marine mammalogy: things mom and dad didn’t tell you
by John E. Reynolds, III
Advice to students
by John E. Reynolds, III
Advice for students
by Bernd Würsig
Stanford commencement address
by Steve Jobs
The Student Affairs Committee of the Society for Conservation Biology has assembled resources to assist students in their educational journeys. The web site includes tips on how to make good poster and oral presentations at professional conferences, and on how to write abstracts.
Twelve Tips for Reviewers
by Henry L. Roediger, III
This article is more like advice to senior scientists, but still potentially useful as it basically discusses work ethics. The article also points out that young and inexperienced reviewers may at times do a better job than busy seniors.