It is well known and accepted that volunteering is a large part of getting essential experience. Volunteering is a vital element for new starters to help them to get on the ecology work ladder.
Example skills include wildflower identification and understanding how to differentiate between habitats.
Finding the best opportunities
If you are keen to enter the ecology profession it is important to spend time finding the right company or organisation to volunteer with, so that you can utilise the experience to hone your skills, develop your knowledge and understanding, and help you to stand out from the crowd.
We often get approached by students and graduates who are looking for a work placement or an opening to gain this relevant experience. Fortunately, we have a range of established study sites, as well as new and ongoing projects, that provide good opportunities for committed trainees to achieve their career aspirations. Some of our work areas provide excellent opportunities to see arrange of habitats and species, including ancient woodlands and reptiles.
Last year, MSc student Sophie joined us for her work placement. This is what Sophie said about her experience.
“I completed a work placement as part of a university qualification, primarily working with bats. I gained experience in a variety of surveying and monitoring methods, learned how to use equipment such as bat detectors, and started to develop fundamental species identification skills. I couldn’t have asked for more supportive and encouraging mentors and hope to continue working with them in the future.”
The many benefits of volunteering
If you are considering volunteering here are five good reasons why volunteering can help you:
- It is an excellent chance to learn and develop skills through mentoring and supervision.
- Volunteering brings you into contact with experienced people in the profession – you can use this opportunity to observe, ask questions and develop your own contacts
- Volunteering greatly improves your employment prospects, and can provide you with referees who can comment on your relevant work abilities and attitude.
- It will provide you with more confidence to apply for jobs and respond positively at interview.
- You will develop a great sense of achievement! You should feel good about what you are doing and your enthusiasm will show and grow.
Lots of opportunities
Don’t think volunteering should stop when you get the job. There are so many opportunities in our sector that require volunteers to help conserve and protect our habitats and species, so why not find something you can still take part in or revisit when the time is right?
We continue to volunteer our time and expertise to national surveys, monitoring schemes and local conservation projects in England and Wales. Our latest voluntary work involved a bat rescue for a very enthusiastic group of local residents in the Forest of Bowland AONB. Working with East Lancashire Bat Group, baby bats which had fallen from their roost were reunited with their mums over the next couple of nights.
If you would like to find out more about volunteer projects that we are involved in, visit our volunteer page at http://ecologyservice.co.uk/voluntary-work/
As always, if you are interested in ecological consultancy work, including volunteering to get more experience and skills, please get in touch.
If you are a new career ecologist, we offer 1-1 and small group mentoring, as well as formal training, both face to face and via webinars.