Career Coach: Ecologist
I caught up with ecologist Joe Nunez from the Bat Conservation Trust for a bit of career advice.
What led you to start exploring a career in ecology?
Quite a number of things, but one of the main driving forces was a love of the natural world and the outdoors. This is quite surprising really, because I was born and raised in London although my parents came from a rural part of Spain which we visited most years. My mum in particular also made a point of taking us out to local parks as regularly as possible. I have very fond memories of spending hours climbing trees, running around muddy fields and generally being fascinated by plants and animals. I also remember being captivated by Gerald Durrell’s books, which transported me to tropical locations across the globe – his adventures and descriptions of exotic animals also played a huge role.
What sort of training or qualifications do you need for a career in this sector?
It really depends on what you want to do. If you want to do research, then the classic route is through academia – although some of the best researchers I’ve worked with don’t have qualifications and would be considered ‘amateur’ naturalists. For conservation, I’d say that being a people-person with a well-grounded base of knowledge is the key qualification. Either way, what you really need is a passion to observe, learn and understand the natural world.
Was working in the ecology sector like what you had expected it to be?
The ecology sector is incredibly diverse – including everything from academics, policy specialists, communicators and educators, through to people working on the ground applying ecological thinking to further wildlife conservation and improving our environment. My preconceptions were relatively narrow, and were probably based on a handful of TV personalities. The reality is that the sector is a lot richer, with all sorts of people and roles. One thing that did meet my expectations was how much I enjoy doing what I do. I could never have imagined the challenges that come with the job, but you can’t have the satisfaction of doing this sort of work without them.
What are some of the skills or attributes that you need in order to build a successful career in science and ecology?
It really depends on which branch of ecology you go into, but regardless of that, you need to be good with people. Without effective collaboration, the work we do as ecologists would simply not be possible.
If someone was interested in exploring a career in science and ecology, what advice or guidance would you give them?
- Keep an open mind and try different options before deciding the career path ahead.
- Try not to be afraid of change because it is inevitable.
- Never ever give up, stay determined and focused.
- Think outside the box and share your thoughts and ideas even if they challenge the status quo.
What are some of your goals and aspirations for the months ahead?
We’re in some some very challenging times, so making sure we gain the necessary support to further wildlife conservation