Jose Francisco Bergua (pronouns: Mr.), from Spain has a huge passion for wildlife conservation and science communication. After completing his PhD in biotechnology, Jose spent 6 months working on wildlife conservation projects in Indonesia and following this experience, decided to transition his career into biology teaching. We caught up only a week after Jose had made the switch in his career and he speaks bravely about the considerations and rewards of navigating a career change in order to follow your passion and work to promote the environment.
Jose always had a passion for wildlife since he was a kid growing up in a small mountain town in Spain– and spent his time hiking out in nature and inspired by nature documentaries. After school, he studied biotechnology at university and completed his PhD in this subject before beginning work in this field.
“I always kept an eye on wildlife and my dream was to travel to some countries or even in Spain and work with wildlife if possible. I was working outside most of the time, assessing the quality of water and developing biosensors to the depth environmental pollution”
During this time, Jose also followed his passion for science communication and outreach and developed activities with his friends and family about the importance of wildlife conservation. Following his thesis, Jose decided to take a gap year and despite the pandemic, he travelled to Lombok, an island in Indonesia and became directly involved in marine conservation for 6 months.
Here, Jose undertook various diving courses, collected trash from the beaches and water, planted corals onto artificial reef frames and conducted research to evaluate fish populations.
“Overall, it was an amazing experience!”
When he returned to Spain, Jose found a job outside of the wildlife field but knew he wanted to remain involved and began blogging with Conservation Careers. But this experience had sparked something deep inside of him and he started taking steps towards shifting his career from biotechnology into biology teaching!
For Jose, blogging has been a fun and important way to remain involved within the world of environmental conservation. It has allowed him to demonstrate his skills and knowledge and also network with other people and organisations within this space.
“I can recommend starting to blog on environmental topics to everyone – it can help you find your passion and get started on this career path”
After returning from Indonesia, Jose was inspired by his experience and eager to shift his career from biotechnology to biology teaching and share his passion with the next generation. Jose walks us through the vulnerabilities and rewards of the process for shifting careers:
“I was doing a lot of introspection, which is a very good action for everyone to do. And from this, I decided that my motivation was to be in contact with people and teach about biology, because when I was a kid, my biology teacher also was a very important person to me.”
For Jose, being able to communicate why wildlife and environmental protection is important is key, especially for kids and teenagers because they are the next generation of leaders.
“For me, it’s a big motivation to be able to communicate them this,”
Jose shares that for many people, it is very hard to finish school at 18 years old and know exactly what you want to do for the rest of your life.
“When you are 18 in Spain, you have to start college or university, and decide amongst all the different options. And as a kid you may have things very clear, but you may not – and in my case, it was not very clear!”
He knew he liked biology, and while liked studying a PhD in biotechnology, when it came to working in this field, he didn’t enjoy it so much. This, Jose suggests, should be the trigger for introspection, the first step in any career shift!
“The trigger to start thinking about what you really want and if you need a change, is when you start feeling that you don’t enjoy it anymore. This should be a trigger for everyone to think where they want to move their careers or their future professional and personal life.”
After taking the time to introspect and think about what he was passionate about, and where his existing skills and experience already lay, Jose decided on biology teaching:
“For me, becoming a teacher is a compromise between my former career and my passion, I’m not changing completely, which could be a little bit complicated economically talking now, but it’ll also allow me to fulfill more my personal goals”
So, in terms of advice, Jose’s considerations towards shifting your career are:
- Introspection. Think about what you really want to do. This may take some time and can be best achieved whilst writing in a journal.
- Consider your options including your current position, experiences/skills and finances.
- Consider the steps you need to take to take the leap and switch careers.
CONTRIBUTING TO ENVIRONMENTAL WORK
You don’t need to be a scientist to help the environment – and you don’t need a degree to make a difference for a planet! There are so many ways to contribute in a positive way to conservation – in any role, you can bring an ecological perspective to the way things operate, and you can also volunteer or blog or do an environmental project on the side whilst not working within the industry!
“You just have to find the way which is the most appropriate for you, but definitely everyone can work and be related to environmental conservation if you are interested in that.”
Regardless of your age, regardless of your experiences – anyone with a passion for nature conservation should feel inspired to take action and align their lives in whatever way they can with this passion!
KEEP IN TOUCH
Want to hear more from Jose? Tune into the podcast to hear our conversation. You can also connect with him on Linked In, Facebook or via email: email@example.com. To read his interview with Manon on Conservation Careers, all about switching careers with ease at any age, click here.
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