Career Development Resources
Miami University’s Center for Career Exploration and Success
Miami’s Center for Career Exploration and Success offers career advising, career assessment, job search strategy, and resume/CV/cover letter review. While many resources are focused towards the 17,000 undergraduates at Miami, the Center is well aware of Project Dragonfly and all our amazing adult learners who may be early, mid, or later in their careers.
Most of the Career Center’s resources are offered through Handshake, an internship/job search platform similar to LinkedIn. All Miami University students have a Handshake account that is automatically created for them when they enroll. All you have to do is log in to Handshake to activate your account and select a career cluster. Handshake will then recommend certain positions to you based on your profile, allowing for easy searching.
Yes, you should take a few minutes to set up your Handshake account. Here are some of the awesome things you can do with Handshake:
- Register for networking events, workshops, fairs and info sessions
- Schedule an appointment with a Career Advisor
- Research thousands of employers
- Apply for jobs and internships
To join Handshake: https://miamioh.joinhandshake.com/Dragonfly students qualify for Handshake even though the website says "Be a current Miami University student on the Oxford Campus." For more support or discussion please contact Danielle Hart-Westbay, the Associate Director of Graduate Student Career Development, at email@example.com.
Miami University’s Howe Center for Writing Excellence
The Howe Center for Writing Excellence can help review your cover letter, resume, and CV and provide valuable resources as you begin the process. Review resources on their webpage including To setup an appointment, click on the following link-
***A writing consultation is essential once you have developed a strong first draft of your resume/CV and cover letter.***
Getting Started with Your Job Search
First Things First: Do NOT Sell Yourself Short
Envision your perfect job. Then, consider some jobs that intrigue you but seem out of reach. Why don’t you feel that you do this kind of work? What is holding you back?
Some people experience a sense of “Impostor Syndrome,” a term used to describe when people feel they do not belong in some work or career settings despite lots of contrary evidence (e.g., strong course work, experiences, writing skill, etc.). It is important to be open to all possibilities for your life and career.
You might consider reflecting on and discussing these ideas with your friends, family, and advisors/mentors. Overall, it is a good idea to evaluate and re-evaluate your job visioning, including assumptions you hold about who you are and what you are capable of.
A Regional Versus a National Job Search
Are you open to a national (or international) job search, or are you restricted to your current city and region? This is a key question for you to consider. If you have family and friends in an area, you may opt to stay there, but doing so will limit your job options. However, having community, family, and knowledge of an area is a tough thing to give up. All this depends on your personal situation. Take time to consider this carefully before embarking on your job search.
Join and Regularly Check Job Boards
As you consider job options, you want to develop a robust search strategy. We recommend a spreadsheet with different job boards that you will check every week or two. Even better is setting up auto-notifications of jobs that meet your criteria if the site allows.
In addition to the sites below, keep an eye on the job pages of specific organizations you would love to work with. For example, if you know you want to work for Disney, you will want to regularly peruse and check their job site (https://jobs.disneycareers.com/). Do this for any organizations you have a strong affinity for as some jobs may first be posted on an organization’s website before being sent out to various job sites. This also is a great way to view requirements for different positions, so you can develop those skills.
- https://jobs.naaee.org/jobs - Environmental Education jobs across the United States
- https://careers.conbio.org/ - Hundreds of jobs in different areas of conservation biology. Setup your account to get notifications based on your preferences (e.g. your geographic location, area of interest, etc.)
- https://jobs.chronicle.com/jobs/ - Jobs in academia (create an account to set up filters and alerts)
- https://www.esa.org/membership/ecolog/ - Join Ecolog-L listserv, run by the Ecological Society of America. This is a great way to get a sense of different opportunities in ecological research and academia.
- O*Net - an expansive database with details about skills and salary for various occupations nationwide
- Miamioh.edu/Careers - Miami career page with more resources available in Handshake.
Use Your Coursework to Develop Key Skills
“It's important to help students understand how much they can leverage their time in school to make the biggest impact once they graduate. I took every opportunity and one of them really helped me get promoted while in school and again after I graduated.” - Dragonfly Alum
If you know you are looking for a new career, use your coursework in Dragonfly to set you up for that career. Almost every course in this program has an independent self-designed project. Use those projects strategically to network with organizations and get needed experience. Seek out and submit for grants, publications, and awards. Develop skills like survey design, statistics, analysis, program creation, report writing, mapping, and more. Add the details to your resume and CV as you complete these projects.
Review the Course of Study for the AIP or the Course of Study for the GFP. Then, consider the skills you need based on your initial research on job boards (looking at qualifications) and talking to colleagues and friends. Finally, design your projects in this program so that they will develop the skills you feel you will need. More than ticking a box, be creative and bring in your inspiration to your projects. That will stand out a lot to potential employers.
From Dragonfly alumni:
- “My income increased significantly as a result of my graduate studies.”
- “I received a promotion and salary increase one month after graduating from AIP.”
- “The master's program helped move me from a frontline educator into a management/leadership department in my department.”
- “As a teacher, having my master's has increased my salary every year moving forward. It also increases my reputation with parents and students in my subject matter.”
Are you searching for a totally new workplace or a promotion within your existing company? A promotion can take time and is not always guaranteed. You will need to be persistent and have clear lines of communication with your supervisor. It is good to be specific, for example, making it clear what you are working for: A pay raise? Increased responsibility? Increased work flexibility (hybrid work)? Each of these is slightly different.
Be very clear on what you want (and don’t want). Take time to reflect on this before beginning the process.
If you feel you need and deserve a pay raise, make it 100 percent clear how much. You might consider asking for 10 percent (or more) above what you feel you need as employers often will come back with a lower amount than what you request. In evaluating salaries, it usually makes sense to compare your salary to similar positions within or outside of your organization. If you feel there is an equity issue, you might contact Human Resources personnel. Many Human Resources Departments can conduct an equity analysis of comparable salaries. If the analysis indicates a discrepancy for your position, you may end up receiving a salary recalibration.
As you work toward a promotion, try to get agreements and timelines in writing (via email). Be persistent in checking in with your supervisor(s). It is difficult but important to keep asking, even when things get busy. You might set a calendar reminder for yourself to send regular emails asking for progress updates.
Work Flexibility and Life Design
From Dragonfly alumni:
- “I spent most of my marketing career in the financial services industry. I now work as senior marketing manager at the Seattle Aquarium. It's exactly the change I was hoping for when I signed up for the program.”
- “(I worked) as an instructor at camps prior to the (Dragonfly) program. Began working as a Yellowstone wildlife guide before graduation. I now work as a wildlife photographer and guide, leading global photo tours. The program helped me gain global experience that aided in my career.”
It is rare or impossible to find a perfect position. However, there are some components that can drastically increase your long-term joy.
One key component is the people you work with. You can find a wonderful organization with a great mission but it can be challenging if you do not get along with your colleagues. This is hard to judge from an interview. Furthermore, some conflict is unavoidable even in the best work situations. Still, the people you work with and the culture of the organization is a key thing to consider. Does the group seem energetic, happy, and creative? Is there a sense of support? Try to assess these factors as you consider a new position.
Another element to consider is the commute time and overall workplace flexibility for hybrid or remote work. A long commute time has been associated with increased stress and blood pressure, and decreased job satisfaction, with this being especially the case when the commute time is unpredictable with frequent congestion. Ask your current or potential employer about the potential for remote work at least some days. For many, this added flexibility can make a job much more enjoyable in the long-term.
Updating Your Resume or CV - Examples and Tips
Most jobs only require a resume, which typically is a 1 to 2 page document that details your educational and professional background. In contrast, a curriculum vitae (CV) is required for some positions, especially in academia or director/executive-level positions, and is meant to encompass your entire “life curriculum.” At a minimum, a CV should be five pages long and will take considerable time to brainstorm, develop, and update.
We regularly see students and alumni in this program who do not fully showcase all their achievements. As a master’s candidate (or graduate) you have a lot of unique experiences, well beyond that of most other people. Celebrate and share the various research and course experiences you have had!
Another important element for your resume is a consistent and professional formatting style. You may consider using an online resume template, such as Hloom, which can help keep things organized and professional.
Example Resumes and CVs
Dragonfly students have graciously shared their resumes as examples below. Each resume is different and you are encouraged to make yours unique to you as a person. In addition to these examples, we encourage you to search for additional templates or examples online, and to ask colleagues to share with you if they are willing. Seeing multiple examples can help you identify elements you appreciate.
- Example resume for non-profit/research position: provided by Emma Katz
- Example cover letter for non-profit/research position: template provided by Emma Katz
- Example CV for PhD position: provided by Nikki Kucherov
- Example CV for a PhD position: Gabrielle Acciari
- Example cover letter for academic PhD program: provided by Nikki Kucherov
***In addition to the above examples, you are encouraged to seek out resumes/CVs for those working in positions that interest you. ***
Items to Include in Your Resume or CV
Here are some items we recommend including in your resume/CV, cover letter, and in interviews (where appropriate):
1) Mention that you have earned, or are earning (note expected graduation date), a Master of Arts in Biology or a Master of Arts in the Biological Sciences from Miami University/Project Dragonfly. Indicate that this is an innovative one-of-a-kind master’s degree designed to connect you with major zoos/botanical gardens across the country (AIP) or global conservation issues through field courses (GFP).
2) Depending on the job, note your research experiences through the inquiries you have conducted in this program. For example, you might have a bullet under your master’s degree as follows: “Developed, administered, and analyzed a research survey on public perception of green spaces in Cleveland, Ohio” (Note: You could add a few more details such as sample size, findings, etc. if appropriate and if space is available).
3) Add any travel experiences, and connect to either research or education or both (adjust depending on the position). For example- “Participated in a 10-day field course in the Peruvian Amazon (BIO 642) including work mist-netting and bird-banding with leading tropical avian ecologist, Dr. Ursula Valdez.”
4) Include any and all presentations you have given related to your Leadership Challenge or other projects - “Public presentation on composting basics (at Monroe Library, Date). Presentation included an activity and take-home kit for participants.”
5) Include any and all grants or publications you have submitted even if not accepted. “Submitted grant to National Wildlife Federation Backyard Wildlife program, “Increasing native pollinator through native plants”. $500. Not funded (currently resubmitting for other opportunities).”
6) Do NOT include a citation for your self-published works. You can note them as projects (see example above). For successful external publications, use APA or some other reputable citation format, and note your name (and any other co-authors), year submitted, the article title, journal/venue, and any other details such as volume number or page numbers. For papers that are in prep, submitted, or in review, note that in the year location as follows: “(In Prep),” “(Submitted),” or “(In Review).”
7) Brainstorm with your friends and family as to unique things to add to your resume/CV to highlight who you are as a person. Friends/family can often highlight things we might miss. Fun personal facts might include details of any athletic achievements “Participated in five major city marathons over the last eight years,” martial arts, extensive biological reading habits, and more.
8) Show, don’t tell. Instead of saying you are “Passionate about nature”, endeavor to show that by stating how you have actually expressed that passion. For example, “Volunteer leader for community hikes through the Greenburgh Nature Center in Ardsley, New York” is more compelling than “Avid nature fan.”
Additional Resume/CV Tips
1) Minimize white space and try to fit in as much as possible without making it too busy. You can edit line spaces between sections to make them smaller. You can adjust margins. You want to make it clear that you have a lot of experiences while also not overwhelming your reader.
2) Have different sections that you can swap out depending on the position. Section areas might include “Education Experience”, “Research Experience”, “Teaching Experience” “Community Engagement Experience” and more. Then, adjust based on the position you are applying for, removing or reducing certain sections.
3) Have multiple people review your resume/CV and give you feedback. Allow time for them to review and do this early. You never know when the perfect position will come along.
The cover letter is an important component of any application. It is an opportunity for you to showcase some of your accomplishments but, most importantly, to demonstrate you understand the job responsibilities and organization. It also is a writing sample so make sure to take your time editing and refining.
- Example Cover Letter (PhD position)
- Example Cover Letter (Non-profit or government)
It is critical that you personalize your cover letter. Many positions will not even review applicants who have not taken the time to personalize the cover letter with the names of the review committee members and an understanding of the details of the position and organization mission.
Professional Affiliations and Networking
“I am a high school teacher, so having a master’s degree in biology gives me an automatic pay increase and allows me to teach dual credit biology courses in conjunction with my local community college.” - Dragonfly Alum
“I went from a middle school science teacher to starting my own STEAM lab for K-12 within an elementary school. Now I've gotten a promotion to the 2nd grade science specialist for Chicago Public Schools.” - Dragonfly Alum
It is estimated that 70% of jobs are in the “hidden job market” where you need to know someone to be aware of the opportunity. Most of these jobs are not “hidden” in a devious way. They may simply be poorly advertised or the details of the job may still be being worked out. Knowing about upcoming job possibilities is a huge advantage. Beyond awareness of jobs, talking to people and networking generally increases your skills and understanding of your field.
How to Get Started with Networking?
Join professional organizations, read their newsletters, attend conferences. Write to authors, researchers, and leaders that you admire. Go to meetings and events in your community. Start putting yourself out there.
Introverted? If so, we understand this can be challenging. Showing up does not mean you need to speak the whole time or present your original work. You can start by simply participating, observing, and asking questions.
Some organizations that Dragonfly students have found great for networking with:
- North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE)
- Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA)
- National Association for Interpretation (NAI)
- Ecological Society of America (ESA) - also see local/regional Chapters
- American Association of Zoo Keepers (AAZK)
- Association of Minority Zoo and Aquarium Professionals
- Miami University Alumni Connect
- National Marine Educators Association (NMEA)
- National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT)
- Association for Environmental Studies and Sciences (AESS)
*Many of these have a membership fee. Your workplace might cover it if connected to your work responsibilities. You also should qualify for a student rate as a graduate student.
**Note that the above list is partial. No matter how unique your career aspirations, there is an organization or group for you. You are encouraged to search out and find that group and to connect with them.
Example New Careers and Promotions by Actual Dragonfly/Miami Alumni
Dragonfly students have landed MANY new positions. Here are just a few that we wanted to highlight to hopefully inspire you:
- Instructor, Curriculum-Designer, and Learning Specialist at a Major University
- Ethology Research Assistant
- Education Division Chief with State Game and Fish Commission
- Events Specialist for Ocean Conservancy
- Senior Position with a Private Firm
- Sustainability Planner for a Major City
- Education Director for a Marine Research Institute in New Zealand
- Fund-raising Coordinator for Sierra Club
- Giraffe Research Project Manager in Kenya
- Education Lead at Major Zoo/Botanical Garden
- Animal Curator at Major Zoo/Botanical Garden
- Keepers at Major Zoo/Botanical Garden
- Facility Manager of Nature Center
- Director of Nature Center
- Teaching Fellows with National Geographic
- Grant awardees with NOAA and other organizations
- Ph.D. Candidates at Major Universities
- Numerous New Non-profit or Business Creators
- Numerous Informal Education Positions
- And more… You can do it!