The Ecologist's Career Compass: A game to explore career paths

Yuval Itescu, Maud Bernard-Verdier, Simon S. Moesch, Agata Mrugała, Kinga Mrugała, Camille L. Musseau, Jonathan M. Jeschke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


One of the most challenging endeavors for students is choosing a career path that best fits their interests, wills and skills, and setting their professional goals accordingly. Such decisions are often made from within the culture of academia, in which mentors and peers are mainly familiar with the academic job market and lack the knowledge necessary to consult about other types of careers. We aimed to address this gap for ecology and related fields by creating an engaging and effective tool to help students and professionals to familiarize themselves with the diversity of potential career paths available to ecologists. The tool is an applied card game – the Ecologist's Career Compass – which is provided here freely. The game is played as a trump card game and includes 33 cards, each representing a combination of one of four job-market sectors and one of nine types of positions. Each card indicates the level of seven skill categories required to likely be hired and succeed in the focal position at the focal sector, as well as more specific examples for typical jobs in the focal combination. The information in the game largely relies on input from a global survey we conducted among 315 ecologists from 35 countries. While the challenges faced by early-career ecologists in developing their professional path are substantial and diverse, this game can assist in gaining a broad comparative overview of the whole ecology job market and the skills required to likely excel in different paths. We hope this applied game will act as a conversation starter about the diversity of aspirations and opportunities in ecology classrooms and labs.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numbere9259
JournalEcology and Evolution
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • applied games
  • card games
  • career development
  • ecology job market
  • individual career paths
  • mentorship

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Ecology


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