Have you ever imagined what it would be like to work in wildlife conservation and protect the animals that are endangered, that you love and are so passionate about? If you have answered yes, then I want to reassure you that I have been in your shoes. Maybe you have always loved animals and didn’t know how to embark into a career working with them. Perhaps you do not enjoy your job and would rather choose something much more fulfilling where you are able to give back and make a true difference.
I have been approached by many individuals over the past few years where they have stated that I am so lucky to be doing what I am doing and that they want to be doing what I do too. I always ask why they don’t just do what they love instead of focusing on something they do not particularly enjoy. At least 95% of the time the answer to that question is always related to financial security and how the individuals are scared to take the risk, or leap of faith if you want to call it that, to see if a career in wildlife conservation is meant for them, or perhaps what they were always destined to do. I grew up surrounded by animals and I admired them fully by getting influenced by great naturalists and conservationists such as Sir David Attenborough and the late Steve Irwin. However, even though I grew up loving wildlife and obtained inspiration by incredible individuals, life didn’t allow me to start striving for my dream career until 2013 when I was 20 years old, I am now 26 so you can see how long it has taken me. In most cases, some individuals start their careers right and know what they want to do from the moment they leave school. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case for me and I had to experience an entirely different career field (Electrical Engineering) first to then realise that a career in wildlife conservation was what I was meant to spend my life doing.
Getting into a career field in wildlife biology and conservation was a huge struggle at first due to the fact I was still finding my feet and did not know where to begin. However, now that I have been through the roller-coaster ride for myself, I am confident enough to say that I can provide some advice to others looking to follow in my footsteps.
It has been such an adventure since taking a risk in 2013 to change jobs and strive for a career in wildlife conservation. It’s been so rewarding, but it has also been very hard. Here are some tips involving what I have learnt since 2013, while I have been striving for my dream role, and what has worked for me. Please, do acknowledge that what I state are not guidelines for guaranteed success, but more or less the steps which have worked specifically for me on my journey.
- Make sure to keep your passion for wildlife conservation alive.
- Keep your dream job in the back of your mind.
- Understand that you will not get rich working in a job in conservation.
- You are going to have to volunteer and will have to do quite a lot of it too.
- Get qualifications and experiences under your belt.
- Network like crazy! So, you have an idea what career field you want to get into.
- Make sure to stand out from the crowd. Obtain your own niche/uniqueness and brand yourself to that.
Words by Tolga Aktas
Tolga is an aspiring wildlife biologist, explorer and wildlife photojournalist passionate about storytelling for the species with lost voices. He strives for a future where humans can coexist with wildlife/nature.