Career Tools

Go to Envirovet Summer Institute 2002

Go to The Career Changing Tool Kit by Leslie Dierauf, from Connections, the AVE Newsletter 1:1 (1996)

Go to Conservation and Environmental Career Opportunities by Ted Mashima, from Connections, the AVE Newsletter 2:1 (1997)

The Career Changing Tool Kit

by Leslie Dierauf, VMD
Conservation Biologist, USFWS

Leslie Dierauf, V.M.D. is also the editor of The Marine Mammal Medicine textbook. Click below for CRC Press ordering information.
Each AVE weblink order provides a small donation to support the work of AVE.

The AVE Newsletter
Vol. 1, No. 1 Summer, 1996

One of the most frequent requests received from new AVE members is for information on how to redirect careers toward pursuit of environmental work. This deceptively simple inquiry actually entails a long and complicated answer, with each individual career path representing a unique blend of what the person wants to do, what experience and training they bring to the pursuit, and what personal lifestyle choices they must also honor. AVE wants to address this important issue for its members and be of assistance in finding new ways to direct our life's work toward conservation and environmental protection. We will start with a series of articles addressing this subject. This first installment begins by talking about the "tools" needed for that first, all important step of assessing where we are and where we really want to go with our careers.

Personality Pluses: The first category of tools to gather together are those personality characteristics that lend themselves to exploration, risk taking and creativity in finding new directions. These tools which come in handy include being imaginative, creative, ever aware of potential opportunities, practical, persistent, patient, enthusiastic, and possessing a willingness to dare to dream. These are traits that lead to "making your own luck". In actuality, luck is really the meeting of opportunity and preparation. These creativity tools need constant replenishment and encouragement, so seek out those who would mentor and encourage your ambitions.

Bonus Skills: Another vital category of tools are those skills which are not directly related to veterinary medicine but extremely important to moving outside of the traditional practice setting. I have been filling my toolbox with special tools since before I became a veterinarian... skills such as creative writing; scientific writing and editing; networking; big picture views of the world, its people and cultures; and awareness of the effects animals have on our world, and the effects our world has on animals. Other valuable skills to pursue include computer literacy, a grounding in ecology or environmental sciences, foreign languages, journalism, or law. There are many ways to enter the environmental arena as their are careers and imaginations to create them.

In 1990, after 17 years of practice, including small and large animal medicine, emergency small animal medicine, marine mammal medicine and wildlife rehabilitation, I was lucky enough to compete for and be awarded an AVMA Congressional Science Fellowship to work on Capitol Hill for the U.S. House of Representatives. In four short, fast-moving years, I went from being a focused marine mammal specialist to being a total generalist! My knowledge was a mile wide, but an inch deep! I had gained, however, through my contacts in Washington, DC, a new view of the profession. I was exposed to scores of veterinarians in a wide variety of unconventional careers, from those in the Peace Corps, to those in the Public Health Service, environmental organizations, philanthropic foundations, international development, environmental education, complex problem solving situations, ecotoxicology, ecosystem management, and risk assessment.... each veterinarian attempting to bridge the gap between veterinary medicine, science and national/international policy. Being open to unconventional work opportunities is a necessary "bonus skill" to create your own new career.

Getting Started: After evaluating your goals and the skills your possess, the next step is to become active in preparing yourself for the transition. An excellent way to begin is through involvement in your local community. Volunteering with the local nature conservancy group, zoo, or department of natural resources can be an excellent way to develop your contacts and experience in a new line of work. Do community work, travel, read and network with everyone you meet. Ideas to help you get started as a veterinarian outside traditional practice or in addition to daily clinical activities include:

Participate in your Community ...through volunteerism and community service in areas such as:
  • wildlife rehabilitation
  • animal welfare
  • zoological medicine
  • aquatic animal medicine
  • non-governmental organizations
  • conservation organizations
  • environmental education
  • media relations/public relations
  • State or local environmental affairs
  • State wildlife and natural resource divisions
Consider an advanced degree ...or research position at an university, veterinary college or national research institution in any of the following fields:
  • zoological or wildlife medicine
  • environmental education
  • risk assessment or management
  • natural resource science
  • animals and public policy
  • conservation biology
  • ecology
  • evolutionary biology
  • public health
  • epidemiology
  • population
  • environmental science
  • toxicology
  • pathology
Environmental problem-solving can be a part of any of these fields. If you are so inclined, a second degree in other fields, such as law, journalism or the arts may be your key to finding the perfect career choice.
Take concentrated courses ...in continuing education such as:
  • Envirovet - Terrestrial (UCDavis)
  • Envirovet - Aquatic (U of Illinois)
  • Aquavet (U of Pennsylvania)
  • Practical Fish Health (U of Florida)
  • Aquamed (Texas A&M)
  • Sea Grant (most land grant colleges)
  • AAAS Fellowship Program
  • AVMA Government Relations Division
Consult the following resources ...to expand your imagination on the possibilities that are available to you:
  • AVMA (Schaumburg, IL and Washington, D.C.)
  • The Conservation Directory (National Wildlife Federation)
  • The Foundation Directory (available at most libraries)
  • Membership Organizations (get active in the ones you belong to)
  • Guide to Curriculum Planning in Environmental Education
Consider what your dreams are ...answering questions about the type of commitment you wish to make (part-time, full-time), whether the geographic location makes a difference to you, and what your transferable skills are (are you a people person, a negotiator type, a technical wonk, a creative sort) so that the direction(s) you choose could lead you down the road(s) you wish to take.

I suggest that anyone contemplating a career change or seeking an unconventional career after graduation, begin with a thorough self assessment using the excellent book by Richard Nelson Bolles called What Color is Your Parachute: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career Changes. This book takes you through a thorough self evaluation which helps immensely in determining what kind of work would best suit your life's goals - field work, research, public service, politics etc. It then helps you understand the best ways to seek out (or create) those perfect jobs that you will never see in any job listing or want ad.

The Alliance of Veterinarians for the Environment has set one of its objectives as highlighting and detailing ways to move veterinarians into non-traditional roles. We hope this newsletter article helps you begin your quest, if that is your desire. Future articles will present additional information on ways to pursue your environmental career goals. Good luck!

AVE is working on a three-phase career changing kit for the veterinarian interested in environmentally-related fields of work.

Conservation and Environmental Career Opportunities

by Ted Y. Mashima, DVM
Projects Director, National Association of Physicians for the Environment

The AVE Newsletter
Vol. 2, No. 1 Summer, 1997

Editor's Note: Part of the AVE mission is to facilitate participation by animal health professionals in diverse careers where their expertise can benefit environmental health and conservation worldwide. We are very grateful to Dr. Mashima for putting together this comprehensive list of career information sources for use by our members.

A great many veterinarians, both new graduates and seasoned practitioners, have an interest in directing their careers into environment related work. This is appropriate, since the broad medical and scientific background of veterinarians can be valuable to conservation and environmental organizations. The challenge is to match an individual's interests and experiences with the needs of an organization, and then to find or create a position to fill those needs. The following list of resources are offered as potential resources that may be useful in finding conservation and environmental career opportunities. Look for these resources at local and university libraries, professional outplacement assistance centers, and university career guidance centers (especially in science and agriculture departments), which often have job listing services and other resources. The Internet is an extremely valuable way of accessing information on career opportunities. Almost all local libraries now provide Internet access to everyone, so find a computer terminal and check these information sources out.

When using the Internet, remember that organizations frequently change Internet addresses; if the listed full address does not work, try using the root address. Particularly useful resources are marked with an *.


* Conservation Directory Published annually by the National Wildlife Federation: Lists organizations, agencies, and officials concerned with natural resource use and management. This directory is often in the office of local conservation organizations. 1996 copy costs $25. 800-432-6564.
Directory of Land Trusts Published by the Land Trust Alliance in Washington, DC. 202-638-4725
Directory of Zoological Parks and Aquariums in the Americas Published annually by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA). This directory can be found at most local zoos and aquariums. 304-242-2160, fax 304-242-2283
* Environmental Grantmaking Foundations Published annually by the Environmental Data Research Institute. Provides profiles, including examples of recent grants distributed by the foundations. This directory may be in the office of some local conservation organizations, but is relatively more difficult to find than some of the other directories. 800-724-1857.
The Foundation Directory published annually by The Foundation Center. Source for information about grantmaking foundations in the US. Available at many libraries


Federal Jobs Digest Lists vacancies in federal government 1-800-824-5000
Federal Research Service, Inc. Publications and services for obtaining federal jobs. http://www.fedjobs.com/
Federal Career Opportunities published every 2 weeks, lists federal jobs nationwide and overseas.
ACCESS: FCO On-Line electronic version of Federal Career Opportunities, hourly fee. 703-281-0200, fax 703-281-7639
FedWorld Database of abstracts of open US federal government jobs. http://www.fedworld.gov/jobs/jobsearch.html
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
919-541-4331 job line
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Announcements for jobs, including the National Marine Fisheries Service. http://www.rdc.noaa.gov
301-713-0677 job line
Smithsonian Institute
202-287-3102 job line
United States Fish and Wildlife Service Information on careers with the F&WS. See US Office of Personnel Management for job listings. http://www.fws.gov/
United States Office of Personnel Management US official site for government jobs and employment information. http://www.usajobs.opm.gov/


* American Society of Association Executives Publishes nationwide lists of jobs in nonprofit organizations, associations, foundations, and societies. ASAE Career Starters lists jobs compensating up to $30k; available on-line. ASAE Career Opps lists jobs in the $30k-$50k compensation range. CEO Job Opportunities Update lists senior staff and CEO jobs compensating above $50k. http://www.entremkt.com/ceo
For subscription information or a free sample of publications: 202-408-7900, fax 202-408-7907.
* American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA) Positions that are listed in the AZA's monthly publication for members (Communique). Most local zoos will have individuals that receive this publication. http://www.aza.org/aza/communique/position.htm
304-242-2160, fax 304-242-2283.
The Chronicle of Higher Education Weekly newspaper of higher education lists academic and research positions with colleges, universities, and research companies. http://chronicle.merit.edu/.ads/.links.html
Conservation International
CSIRO Australia, Division of Wildlife and Ecology CSIRO is the largest government scientific research agency in Australia. Listing of wildlife and ecology jobs. http://www.dwe.csiro.au/local/ads/ghindex.html
Defenders of Wildlife
* Environmental Career Opportunities Position listings published bi-weekly. 301-320-2002, fax 301-320-2006.
* Environmental Careers World Position listings, calendar of events, and descriptions of career resources. Publishes monthly magazine, Environmental Career World. http://www.environmental-jobs.com
Environmental Defense Fund
Greenpeace USA
International Career Employment Opportunities Position listings published bi-weekly. 804-985-6444, fax 804-985-6828.
National Business Employment Weekly Published by The Wall Street Journal. Calendar of Events lists events and services for job seekers that are either free or nominal cost. Listed by state. 1-800-562-4868
National Wildlife Federation
703-790-4522 job line
The Nature Conservancy updated weekly http://www.tnc.org
703-247-3721 job line
Sierra Club
415-977-5744 job line
* Texas A&M University Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences Job Board Lists nationwide jobs in wildlife, fisheries, and the biological sciences. http://wfscnet.tamu.edu/jobs.html
World Wildlife Fund
Job Line - 202-861-8350


* Employment for the Biomedical Scientist Set of links compiled by scientists to assist colleagues with on-line employment information; e.g., recruitment advertisements from Science, Nature, National Institutes of Health, Center for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.his.com/~graeme/employ.html
* The Riley Guide (Employment Opportunities and Job Resources on the Internet) Links to job listings and guides to finding jobs on the Internet. http://www.jobtrack.com/jobguide/
* US Environmental Resources Links to environmental organizations and resources. http://www.contact.org/usenviro.htm
* Yahoo's Environmental Web Site Links to environmental organizations and resources. http://www.yahoo.com/Environment_and_Nature/
America's Job Bank Includes links to state employment service offices. http://www.ajb.dni.us/search.html
Career Mosaic JOBS
Internet Job Surfer
The Monster Board
On-line Career Center


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