To FE Readers,
I'm not opposed to a good bit of dedication and proof of ability to make a
career in natural resources, but.......
John Siegling made an excellent point that I hope will not be ignored on
this list. I have been there too, John!! This is an issue that needs to be
discussed with the legislative and executive branches of our government, and
should be recognized as a significant problem in our field.
This is the Real World:
After finishing my MS degree (I walked right out into several hiring
freezes), I also bounced between temporary jobs with the federal government
for several years (one of those years I nearly went into financial ruin). I
was lucky, I am out of that system (for now). However, most of these jobs
continue year to year. The hypocricy of the federal government is
appauling. The USFWS is not the only organization partaking in this
activity. Many government agencies are stringing young scientists along on
these permanent-temporary jobs without benefits for years. I know
scientists who have been permanent-temps for 8-10 years, and their biggest
fear is the hospital visit that will cost an annual salary. At low wages, it
is difficult to part with the additional money (thousands) to purchase good
insurance (esp. with rent, loans, moving expenses, car ins., etc).
Unfortunately, a peer from one of the temp jobs I worked 3 years ago (he is
still there) was recently diagnosed with a serious illness.
Let's not ignore these permanent-temporary jobs. They are abundant.
Although the temp job is an excellent way for a recent graduate to make a
name for him/herself, many of these jobs persist for years and are a
detriment to the job market. Even though a scientist works for an agency
for many years, as a temp he/she CANNOT earn status. This means that he/she
cannot apply for permanent openings within that agency until the opening is
listed competitive. In the last 5 years, I have rarely seen competitive
listings. What does this mean (for those of you who do not speak the US
federal goverment language)? This means that the temporary worker cannot
get out and improve their situation.
To all the supervisors of permanent-temp employees - you know who you are-
be fair to the employees in these positions. Could employee health care be
written into your soft-money budget? Is there any way you can get this
person on permanent? Who could you talk to or what can you do to support
I would like to say the solution would be to make any position permanent
after 18 months, but the agencies would find a way around this. Perhaps by
constantly changing an employee's project or title, or occasional breaks in
service. Although the walk-out that John suggested sounds like a good idea,
the job market is so saturated that someone unemployed would gladly take
your place - and some supervisors will let you know this. You are
expendable (especially if you try to stand up for your rights - hang in
My advice to upcoming undergraduates hoping for a permanent job someday:
either go to graduate school (which by the discussion currently on the list
is not a guarantee), or join the Peace Corps. The Peace Corps is the
fastest way to earn government status to be eligable for non-competitive
permanent federal positions (still no guarantee). Also, be ready to shed
any preconceptions about where in the country you want to live (often
difficult if you have a partner with whom you coordinate). And think more
than twice about whether this is the career for you, because finding the
first permanent job (and maybe even jobs thereafter) will be trying.
Getting a permanent job requires a lot of experience. Therefore, many
graduates work the field season as a temp, and get whatever (janitor, cafe
work, substitute teacher, etc.) in the winter. BE PREPARED TO DO THIS. And
do not be disillusioned, sometimes one cannot find a
waitor/waitress/bartender/whatever salary in the winter - how are you going
to make it financially?? Myself and others have been in this position.
Lastly, if you are a woman trying to make it in this temporary job market,
expect to have 1/3 of the opportunities and be evaluated 10 times as hard.
even consider adopting a unisex name - crazy but it has gotten me in the
door more than once! -and makes me think twice about checking the female box
on survey portion of the application. (beware of my sarcasm here, although
true, many agencies do background checks and would appreciate your real name
Please, HELP! How can WE make it better?
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nez perce tribe, fisheries
orofino field office
3404 hwy 12
orofino, ID 83544