Individuals who are interested in wildlife-related careers take unpaid positions to gain experience and remain competitive in the job market. However, unpaid positions may not provide the same training, skills acquisition, or long-term success as paid positions. We surveyed 796 graduates of wildlife-related bachelor's degree programs from accredited U.S. universities to assess how experiences and skills gained in paid and unpaid positions affected long-term employment or educational success. We found that respondents with more paid employment experience were more likely to obtain full-time employment in a wildlife-related field than those who had worked more unpaid positions. Further, respondents reported gaining more skills associated with long-term success from paid positions than unpaid positions. Our results highlight the importance of both paid work and experiences that provide valuable skills training for success in wildlife-related fields. We urge wildlife-related employers to offer more paid positions in lieu of unpaid opportunities. We further suggest that job-seeking, early-career scientists carefully consider the skills they will gain from particular jobs, and critically scrutinize the potential for long-term benefits before accepting an unpaid position.
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
The authors have no conflict of interest to declare.
DATA AVAILABILITY STATEMENT
The data that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.
This article includes online-only Supplemental Data.
|wsb1252-sup-0001-WSB-20-003_Supporting_Info_TableS1-S3_JMLEdited.docx28.6 KB||Additional supporting material may be found in the online version of this article at the publisher's web-site. This includes a list of colleges and universities represented in the survey, demographic details of the survey respondents (age, sex, race/ethnicity, marital status, income, and parent's education), and reported paid and unpaid positions of survey respondents across demographic groups.|
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