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Career Speed Dating with the Urban Conservation Corps

Career paths, like relationships, are sometimes intricate and convoluted things. Many young adults join RMYC looking for a stepping stone to a new opportunity, but are unsure what they’re stepping into or where to step next. In an effort to showcase the wide variety of careers in conservation and elsewhere, RMYC’s Urban Conservation Corps took part in a multi-faceted career mentor program.

The program began with a light introduction to the organizations working in the Middle Rio Grande region, and then progressed into “Mentor Mixers” which can best be compared to “career speed dating.” We recruited 24 professionals from 16 local organizations–biologists, game wardens, accountants, sociologists, refuge managers, and many more–willing to be interviewed by Corpsmembers who are interested in taking the first step toward a career. Corpsmembers had ten minutes to interview each mentor before moving on to the next, gleaning all they could about the mentors’ work and the paths they took to get where they are.

A few weeks later, each Corpsmember chose a mentor to shadow for a day. The shadow days gave them a chance to experience a day in the life of their potential career, and opportunity to learn that a mentor’s career path was often not as insurmountable as many had thought. By the time the crews graduated in March, Corpsmembers had identified tangible steps to move forward along a career path that intrigued them. Many landed jobs with agencies and organizations that were part of the mentor program, and many others made professional connections that will help shape their own careers into the future.