The Importance of Networking
I recently had the opportunity to attend the annual joint symposium of the Louisiana Association of Professional Biologists and the Louisiana Chapter of The Wildlife Society in Lafayette. It was interesting to hear some of the older professionals in attendance talk about the people they had met at the symposium over the years, especially ones they first met as undergraduate presenters that are now LDWF or USFWS biologists, university faculty, or other big-time wildlife professionals. I then traveled to LUMCON to initiate some coastal marsh research. Faculty there talked about how a lot of their summer research help and eventual employees or graduate students got their start because LUMCON faculty got excellent recommendations from Louisiana Tech faculty.
Are you catching onto my theme?
I cannot stress enough the importance of networking while you work on your undergraduate degree. In the field of Natural Resource Management, it is simply not enough to go to class and get good grades. You have got to build a reputation for yourself. As the start of the new academic year is right around the corner, here are some tips to help you do just that:
1. Get involved in student organizations.
2. Attend at least one conclave while in college.
3. Attend professional meetings.
4. Get a job in your field, volunteer, work as a research technician for one of our many faculty.
5. Visit with your academic advisor more than just once a quarter.
Growing up, my dad always told me that "the world does not take care of the shy." I am passing that tidbit onto you. Don't let anything--include yourself--hold you back from you getting your dream job. Get out there, get involved, and make it happen!