As ecologists, we often start graduate school worshiping the ivory tower of academia with its freedom to pursue important ecological questions. However, studies have shown that most of us do not end up in academia. Greater numbers of ecology graduates are leaving the ivory tower for non-academic career paths. But for many graduates, moving from an academic environment to a non-academic job may be difficult. In graduate school we are trained to work in a particular way, often with loose deadlines and unlimited intellectual freedom (within reason of course). The culture and expectations of the non-academic world may be quite different. What are the skills that you need in a government job, or in science journalism? How do you market yourself for a non-academic position? This is a timely topic because funding to academic ecologists is being cut, leaving fewer opportunities in the academic arena. In fact, an ESA Student Section survey found that an ESA 2013 session on non-academic career paths in ecology was the topic of greatest interest.

Sandra Chung and I organized an ESA lunchtime session on Tuesday the 6th with panelists from an array of non-academic careers to offer advice and share their experiences. Each panelist will speak briefly, introducing themselves and a bit about what they do. About half of the time will be reserved for an open discussion in which you all attending the session help decide what to talk about.

You can find the description of the session at the ESA site here.

The details:

  • When: Tuesday, August 6, 2013: 11:30 AM-1:15 PM
  • Where: 101B, Minneapolis Convention Center
  • Who (the panelists):
    • Virginia Gewin: Independent science journalist (w/ work in Science/Nature/etc.)
    • Liz Neeley: Science communication/journalism at COMPASS (a non-profit org.)
    • Joe Simonis: Research scientist at the Lincon Park Zoo (a non-profit org.)
    • Ted Hart: Soon to be statistician at NEON
    • Lael Goodman: Analyst w/ the Union of Concerned Scientists

Get involved

As a placeholder on the web for things related to Beyond Academia, and a place to find out more about the session at ESA, we started a wiki. Check it out here. Please do visit the wiki, and contribute your ideas for topics to discuss. In addition, we have a Resources page on the wiki here to collect resources related to moving beyond academia.