Hello! My name is Cassidy Miles. I use pronouns she, her, and hers. I identify as queer and I am 30 years old. My hobbies are picking up trash while walking my dog and roller skating! I am currently finishing up graduate school at Western Illinois University for my Master’s in Biology. Important classes I took included: Statistics (programming and analyzing data) and Geographic Information Systems (mapping).
I just accepted a job offer with the Missouri Department of Conservation to be a part of their Stream Team. My job will include conducting water quality sampling, assisting with outreach and education events for schools and the general public, and helping to organize volunteers for river and stream clean ups. This job combines the things I am passionate about: working outside to help with conservation efforts and interacting with people to help get them excited about conservation efforts.
It took me a while to figure out that this is what I wanted to do (which is ok)! I highly recommend taking all kinds of classes and working various jobs during the summers of high school and undergraduate school to get a better sense of what you want to do.
I received my Bachelor’s in Biology from Southern Illinois University of Edwardsville in 2013. Important classes I took included: microbiology, ecology, evolution, ornithology, mammalogy, and botany. I was not ready for more school so I did not go straight into a graduate program.
I worked several different types of jobs between undergraduate and graduate school. This included a lab job at a pharmaceutical company, fisheries field technician jobs at two different river stations, and a corporate biologist position with an environmental consulting firm.
A very valuable resource is the Texas A&M Wildlife and Fisheries Science Job board: https://wfscjobs.tamu.edu/job-board/. This website updates regularly with paid internships, part-time jobs, full-time jobs, and graduate positions. This website is how I found my field technician jobs.
Field technicians assist biologists with their seasonal field work of sampling and data collection. They usually start in the spring and run through the summer. Field technician jobs are a great way to gain experience in the fish and wildlife fields while getting paid! I wish I had spent my summers of high school and undergraduate school working as a field tech! They also help you network with many professionals in the fish and wildlife fields. This can lead to gaining professional mentors and interacting with potential future employers or graduate advisors.
The final puzzle piece that has helped me on this journey is being involved with different kinds of clubs at school and scientific societies. I became extremely involved with the American Fisheries Society as a graduate student. I was a student officer of our University sub-unit and then became an officer for a larger section of the society. I highly recommend joining clubs and scientific societies of your interest and running for an officer position. This looks great on resumes and helps you network with amazing folks!
Networking and trying new things have really helped me figure out what path to take in life. Finding a sense of community with individuals that have similar interests really helped me grow too!
Photo of Cassidy holding a bass sampled by electrofishing on the Mississippi River courtesy of Cassidy.