Having goals and being determined to reach them pays off. Anna early had a vision about working with wildlife management and conflicts between humans and wildlife. Today, she is doing a PhD at the Department of Wildlife, Fish and Environmental Studies. Her best advice is to start networking with people in the field you are interested in as early as possible.
What are you working with?
I am doing a PhD within wildlife ecology, investigating what factors affect how ungulates use agricultural and forest landscapes. I mainly focus on what factors affect grazing damage and why some areas are more exposed to this than others.
Private farmers and forest owners, as well as County Administrative Board or the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, can use the results, but I also hope it may lead to more research in this topic in the future.
How did you get this job?
I studied the Master’s programme Conservation and Management of Fish and Wildlife here at SLU in Umeå, and I chose to write my master thesis for one year. My current job was listed on SLU:s webpage a few months before I was done with the thesis and it suited well with my interests. I applied for the job, and after an interview, they contacted me and said that the job was mine but that I needed to finish the thesis a bit earlier. It was tough, but I was motivated since I had something to look forward to!
What is your best advice to other students?
Find someone who works with what you are interested in and who inspires you! Contacts are essential, regardless of what area you want to work within.
Try to build your CV from a long-term perspective – it is not too early to start thinking about it during your bachelor's. I spent my summers and spare time on different internships and voluntary work within my field of interest. It helped me build up important contacts and gave me experience in the field.
How does a regular work week look like?
My tasks vary depending on the season. During spring and summer, I spend much time on fieldwork or preparing for fieldwork. For this project, I am doing the fieldwork in Sörmland. We collect data during long days for a few weeks.
During autumn and winter, I spend much time in the office analyzing data or writing articles, depending on where I am in the research process. We also have regular meetings with different research groups to discuss articles we find interesting or help each other solve problems we face.
Since PhD studies is a researcher education, I also study courses on a doctoral level. SLU offers plenty of different classes – everything from courses in statistics to courses more specific for your area.
It is common for PhD students to teach both on bachelor's and master's levels, so from time to time, I spend much time correcting tasks, preparing and holding lectures, and supervising bachelor's or master's students.
What do you wish you knew before you started this job?
I wish I knew that every PhD education is different. There is no prepared structure on how a PhD should look like. Everyone has different prerequisites, and every research group or project group works differently. That is why one should not compare oneself with others' development or work methods since we all have different conditions and work in different ways. We all reach the same goal in different ways.
Many thanks to Anna Widén!
And thanks to Elin Wärm, master's student in the Environmental Communication and Management program, who did this interview during her internship with us.