For the Conservation Curious

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Job Searching in the Conservation World July 2, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — newdomino @ 12:40 PM

I’ve been looking for a new job for the last two years, although I’d say my efforts really didn’t ramp up until the last four to six months, for a couple reasons I won’t get into here. I’ve used a variety of job search sites to find that “perfect” job, including Idealist, StopDodo and GreenBiz. I’d say I apply to anywhere from one to five jobs a month and until recently had two to three interviews a year. Doesn’t sound like great odds but I just saw a tweet from someone who’s applied to thousands of jobs over the last two years and only had four interviews. The odds are more in my favor I guess. I can’t imagine applying to 1,000 jobs – actually I can’t imagine finding that many job openings that would appeal to me, but I digress.

That was in the past. In the last three months I had five phone interviews and two in-person interviews. Some of those interviews were for the same position, advancing ahead in the laborious process of getting hired. The two non-profit jobs that I interviewed for looked great on paper, but once I found out about the salary I had to decline. I realize that working for an environmental or animal rights-based nonprofit will never make me rich, but this seemed extreme even for the nonprofit world (especially for the job in Bethesda, where the cost of living is so high). I’m willing to take a small pay cut if it means doing something I’ll love and really believe in, but I do have a mortgage to pay.

One of the in-person interviews was for a large, national corporation, while the other was for a relatively large city. The interviews couldn’t have been more dissimilar. One was nearly five hours and involved six people. The other involved a mayor sitting comfortably in a rocking chair. One involved sustainability, the other night-time economy management. Yeah, I couldn’t believe they interviewed me for that given how strongly focused on the environment my background has always been. But they did, twice, which boosted my confidence for sure. Unfortunately I found out today that I was not their chosen one. Oh well… it’s probably a good thing… did I really want to stay up until 2 a.m. to inspect bars? Hmm… actually, maybe!

Anyway, I am rambling again. The whole point of this blog, now that I’m getting to the point, is that finding a job in the conservation/environmental/sustainability world can take you in interesting directions. I’ve worked for my state for 10 years now (officially yesterday… happy anniversary to me) and sometimes I fret that I won’t be able to escape. If I continue to advance my career here then I guess it wouldn’t be such a bad thing, especially now that I know my salary isn’t that bad compared to what I might otherwise make. I thought I would enjoy working for the private sector, and maybe I would, but after my interview with the corporation I start to wonder. The culture and focus on making money is so different than everything I’ve ever known; could I make that transition? And would I really want to?

There are so many questions when you are looking for a job and so much uncertainty. The stress can be palpable. I just am very thankful that I have a job right now so that there’s less pressure. I really feel for anyone who is employed right now, trying to find a fulfilling position. We all want to find meaning in life, and since we spend so much of our life working, what better way to be meaningful? But I know that many, perhaps a majority, of people out there aren’t fortunate enough to find meaningful employment. My current job may not be what I really want to do in life but it does have its value. I’ll try to remember that the next time I start to grumble about it.

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