A game to explore career paths in ecology
It is not easy to find a career path that matches one's own interests, desires and skills. Sometimes, you don't even know which career options are available in academia and, even more so, in non-academic sectors. Researchers from the Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB), the Freie Universität Berlin and the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin know this feeling well and set out to find solutions. The result is a pack of cards for ecology and related disciplines. The "Ecologist's Career Compass" helps students and professionals to discover the diversity of career paths in the ecological job market.
Researcher, communicator, coordinator, educator, publisher or technician? The list of possible career paths in science, politics and public authorities, associations and the private sector is long and could well be continued. It is not easy to explore relevant possibilities and make the right choice. "With our game, we want to help prospective ecologists find the most suitable career path, and we would like to support academic mentors in providing career advice to their students" explained Yuval Itescu, a postdoc at IGB and Freie Universität Berlin. That is why the game is aiming at all those who are still looking for the right field of study or who already hold their degree in ecology or a related discipline. "We do not only want to demonstrate the diversity of career paths, we also want to emphasize that leaving academia is not a failure, but a choice – for many even the better one," added Maud Bernard-Verdier, also a postdoc in Jonathan Jeschke's research group at IGB and Freie Universität.
The game, jointly developed by the team, is a trump card game. Each of the 33 cards corresponds to a career opportunity in one of four sectors and in one of nine positions, and also includes specific examples of potential job types. In addition, each card uses seven skill categories to indicate the skills typically required to succeed in the position. The game is based on a worldwide survey that had been conducted by the research team among 315 ecologists from 35 countries. It is available as an appendix to a peer-reviewed open access publication. It can be downloaded and printed for free.
Prof. Dr. Jonathan Jeschke
Head of Department Evolutionary and Integrative Ecology
Department of Evolutionary and Integrative Ecology