Do you feel like you should have been born a mermaid/man? Are you one of those who cries (visible or not, we won’t judge) whenever you see wildlife suffering from human impact? Then we bet your dream job is marine conservation. Are we right? If so, you’ve probably already realized that to get a career with marine conservation isn’t all that easy…
We know it can be a struggle to find the right door leading to a job within marine conservation. That’s why we’ve asked previous volunteers with Gili Shark Conservation for advice. They have all experienced how hard it can be to get your dream job in marine conservation, but they all made it. So, let’s open up for some of their secrets on how to pursue a career in marine conservation.
1. Be Passionate
First thing you need to do, is to ask yourself – do I really want to work with marine conservation? As a marine conservationist, the prospects of getting wealthy are basically non-existent. That’s why a genuine passion for what you do is the most important thing!
If you are not doubting for one second that marine conservation will be the right path for you, but you are unsure of how to achieve it, then keep reading.
2. Keep Your Eyes Open For Opportunities
If you want to pursue a career in marine conservation, you will have to actively seek it.
Try to find as many forums, email lists and Facebook groups you can and keep your eyes on them daily for any job opportunities, interesting projects, internships or volunteer work. Don’t be afraid to apply for anything. – Addie – Research Technician at Western Australia scientific non-lethal SMART drumline trial
When finding groups or forums, you’ll want them to fall within your passion. The group doesn’t have to post exclusively for job, internship or volunteer opportunities. If you see a post from an organization that interests you, then contact them regardless of what they are posting.
Try to think about making connections rather than finding a job, internship or volunteer opportunity. New opportunities will naturally present themselves when you expand your network.
Also, remember that looking for a job can be a full-time job in itself. If you really want to find your dream job within marine conservation, then there’s no time for being lazy.
3. Decide Your Expertise, But Don’t Be Picky
If you are a marine scientist, it might be helpful at the beginning of pursuing your dream not to limit yourself too much.
My professor once told me that science comes before the species. If you want to research sharks for example, then getting a job with freshwater fish is as good. Employers want to know that you can work in the field. – Griffin – Intern at Bimini Shark Lab
Try to keep a holistic approach and remember that even if you are working with, for example, coral reefs, it will still benefit the conservation of sharks. They are part of the same ecosystem after all.
Still, it’s a good idea to position yourself and make your expertise clear. This might be more relevant later in your journey, but it’s good to have an idea about where you want to be heading. Once you’ve built both experience and expertise, you will have a strong profile to present to potential employers.
4. Go Diving!
If you want to understand the world of marine conservation, the best way is to indulge yourself in the saltiness of the sea.
I would say diving is not imperative, but being a dive professional has definitely helped me get where I am today. As a diver, you can see first-hand how marine life is affected by human activity and that way your passion grows and is more contagious to others. – Peta – Community Coordinator at Project Aware
Try to consider taking diving to the next level and become a dive professional. You will gain invaluable experience if you devote two months of your time to be a divemaster.
5. Create An Opportunity For Yourself
Are you worried about how to get your dream job in marine conservation because you don’t have a background in marine science? No problem, you can still make it! You can always start your own project that falls within marine conservation.
Where there is a need (which there definitely is), there is an opening”. – Tess –founder Species Speak
Several people advise not to wait for the opportunity to present itself; instead make it happen. Suggest yourself on projects, come up with your own project and make sure to keep expanding your network.
6. Find Opportunities To Volunteer And Intern
The most repeated advice is undoubtedly to get experience from volunteering or interning. Find an established marine conservation organization to gain experience with from the field. Make sure to seize every opportunity you have while studying to go out and get experience.
A degree won’t get you a job, that’s only half the part! – Stephanie – field assistant at CSIRO
Even when the ocean is where your passion lies, different kinds of experience will be equally helpful. Marine conservation is not only about what’s below the surface. Marine conservation is about working with communities and people from all different walks of life. If it wasn’t so, the purpose of marine conservation would be defeated.
7. Don’t Give Up!
To round things up we’d like to encourage you not to give up. The chance that you will get your dream job in marine conservation, with your first job application, is small. The ride might be bumpy, but we promise that your efforts will get rewarded if you keep trying. Try to look at the journey as the goal in itself. Every step on the road will be an opportunity to gain experience and learn something new. Eventually, everything will mount into a career in marine conservation.
Thanks For Your Passion
Before you start putting all these advice into action, we’d like to say thank you! Thanks for your passion. The world needs people like you, who are ready to make a change for the better. Every droplet of sweat shed from trying to pursue your passion is worthy of respect!
Are you looking for experience in the field of marine conservation? Join our family of Shark Warriors. All our participants get trained as scientific divers and become part of our research team.
Become our next Research Assistant or check if you are eligible to be the next Academic Intern.