Advice for the Young Natural Resource Professional – 5 Things to Consider
Danni Halvorson, Education and Monitoring Director
The following pieces of advice are an attempt to provide some guidance to those seeking employment and/or while working in a natural resources field. All considerations are opinion based on 20+ years of working as a Natural Resource Professional in the Red River Basin.
Consideration #1 – All jobs build experience, avoid waiting for the “perfect” job.
The best time to find a job is when you already have one. Potential employers look for those with job experience whether it relates directly to your chosen education field or not. Don’t be afraid to broaden your initial job search into areas that are not traditional natural resource fields. I have worked with several well respected “Natural Resource Professionals” that did not have natural resource degrees but built experience over the course of their working careers. Likewise, you may find your niche in a field unrelated to your education background.
Consideration #2 – Focus on developing skills that set you apart.
There are many that have the required natural resource education background that you possess. If you don’t already have a unique/relevant skill for the job you seek, develop one. Education and related job experiences are only pieces of the puzzle. Your personal equity is greater to potential employers if you can provide skills outside of the norm. Keep in mind that you will excel at learned skills that most interest you.
Consideration #3 – Seek out a professional that has the job you want.
You most likely have a job in mind that you think would be “the job”. What is it? Who currently has it? Reach out to that individual and ask if you can pick their brain. Many professionals would be glad to discuss their current position and duties with a prospective natural resource professional. If you find someone not willing to take the time for you; most likely you have found a person not satisfied with their employment situation. Those that enjoy their position will be glad to share work experience details with you. Showing interest, making contacts and building relationships will lead to future job offers.
Consideration #4 – Think outside the boundaries and challenge the status quo.
You may hear statements like, “We have done it this way for the past 30 years”. Unfortunately, the decision making process and procedures for many has remained stagnant since inception even when much around them has changed or adapted. Things can always be adjusted for the betterment of an organization or individual. Simple changes can lead to huge successes and financial savings. Because Joe Agency Representative or your boss say this is the way it is and has always been you don’t need to accept it. Look for solutions that are new and outside of the norm. Those that are working with you will appreciate a fresh perspective. Ask the difficult questions. You, your employer and clients will benefit.
Consideration #5 – Stick to your principles but avoid being a Zealot.
Natural resources decisions often are difficult to come to. We hope the best decision is made based on the best science-backed information available. In reality, science competes with other science and ultimately societal preference. Decision makers have the difficult task of balancing the scale. As a natural resource professional you need to understand the decision maker. Bring your concerns and talents to the table, present the facts as you have ascertained but also be ready to compromise. Too many resource professionals toil in obscurity and are not heard by decision makers because compromise avoids them. They feel pushing their personal ideals is the only way forward. Don’t be fanatical. You will have greater impact being reasonable.