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Karen Owens Alumnus Profile: Navigating Career Transitions into Wildlife Biology

A big part of my mission as a wildlife biologist is to empower and prepare aspiring and entry-level wildlife professionals so that they can secure good jobs in this competitive career and carry out their life’s purpose. As a  result, I offer a variety of programs for those who want to work with me and take charge of their career. Here, you’ll learn about the successes of my students so that you can be inspired and see what is truly possible for you when you have clarity, strategy, and a competitive job application. 

People often reach out to me because they realize they want to go into a career in wildlife later in life, but they don’t quite know how to make the transition. Either they discover this career for the first time or they recognize that this is truly what they always wanted to do, have one life to live, and finally decide to live full out and go for it. 

Karen Owens was starting her third career in wildlife, after working as a dog behaviorist and director in animal shelters and as a teacher. She didn’t 100% feel confident in applying for jobs – she got a Master’s degree, but she was worried about not having much field experience and didn’t feel qualified for the permanent jobs  in Colorado where she lives – an especially competitive location for wildlife careers. 

Karen Owens Alumnus Profile

Through the Wildlife Job Application Academy, we improved her resume and made her past experiences outside of wildlife jobs align with the requirements and qualifications of wildlife jobs. I pointed out many areas where she had more experience than she realized and explained how jobs in wildlife jobs would find those experiences and skills demonstrated desirable. We translated what she did in the nonprofit sector to fit the job requirements of wildlife jobs and since we’ve worked together, she’s been successful in having several interviews for permanent jobs, has been networking with prominent scientists, and is even co-authoring a paper with one! (See the screenshot further down for details). 

Karen also joined the Wildlife Career Compass program to get crystal clear on where she wanted to go in this new season of her life and signed up for Networking for Introverts to start making connections happen.

Meet Karen:

I have had two careers before coming into wildlife. My first career was in education, teaching elementary school kids, and my second career was in dog behavior, running my own business as well as animal shelter behavior programs. I live in Estes Park, CO, with my family.

Where are you currently in your wildlife career?

I am at the beginning of my wildlife career and am looking for a full-time wildlife-related job in Colorado.

UPDATE: Karen was recently as the Assistant Project Coordinator for the Estes Valley Watershed Coalition!

Karen Owens Alumnus Profile

What's your dream job?

Researching individual wildlife personalities and how they influence ecological communities and human-wildlife conflict.

Karen Owens

What is a hardship you have overcome in your career?

Finding a job in wildlife so far has been the greatest hardship. Not only am I new to the wildlife profession, but I am also a mid-level career person – it is difficult to find the right fit with adequate pay.

"Prior to joining Stephanie's programs, I was incredibly frustrated and upset about the lack of response from employers - I didn't understand why I wasn't getting any traction."

What kind of impact do you want to have in your career?

I want to explore conservation ideas from the ‘outside’ perspective of my previous career in dog behavior modification.

Karen Owens Alumnus Profile

What's a moment of success you've had in this career?

I just submitted my first paper to a professional peer-reviewed journal. This is a huge moment of success, especially since I am not currently associated with a university and am not working full-time in wildlife!

"I just submitted my first paper to a professional peer-reviewed journal. This is a huge moment of success...I am not currently associated with a university...!"

Karen Owens
Karen took action when it came to networking and made things happen for her. Read about her successes from Networking for Introverts above.

How did you know you wanted to go into this field?

My career in dog behavior had ended, and I immediately thought of wildlife biology as my next step – I have loved it since high school.

Why did you join the Wildlife Job Application Academy and Wildlife Career Compass Programs?

I wanted to better understand the field of wildlife and how to market myself and highlight my strengths effectively. Having no experience in the field, I needed to turn to an expert that could guide me.

What is the biggest takeaway or most important lesson you have learned from those programs?

My biggest takeaways have been to communicate your strengths strategically and to network, network, network.

"I wanted to better understand the field of wildlife and how to market myself and highlight my strengths effectively. Having no experience in the field, I needed to turn to an expert that could guide me. "

What was your life/career like before the Wildlife Job Application Academy and Wildlife Career Compass? What was it like after?

Prior to joining Stephanie’s programs, I was incredibly frustrated and upset about the lack of response from employers – I didn’t understand why I wasn’t getting any traction.

Joining Stephanie’s programs gave me more perspective and solid guidance on how to craft my resume and cover letters effectively. I relearned the importance of networking – especially being new to this career. These skills have been empowering and have given me the courage to reach out to other professionals and build relationships when I may not have done so prior to the program.

Karen Owens Alumnus Profile

What would you say to someone who is thinking about joining one of those programs, but is on the fence?

I would say go for it! It’s never a bad thing to learn how to market and invest in yourself. This field is a true challenge – having someone give guidance and perspective is incredibly valuable.  

"This field is a true challenge - having someone give guidance and perspective is incredibly valuable."

Continue to follow Karen’s success and adventures by following and connecting with her on LinkedIn. Karen is also available to chat with you about what it’s like to be a member in the Successful Wildlife Professional Program. 

If you’re ready to get results like these and go after your dream career in wildlife, then I’d love to meet you! Check out my programs page to see how can work together. 

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Stephanie Manka

Stephanie Manka, Ph.D. is a wildlife biologist with 20 years of experience in mammal ecology and conservation, education, and outreach. Read her story to find out how she went from the daughter of a jeweler to a Ph.D. in wildlife biology.

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