Researcher, communicator, coordinator, educator, publisher or technician? The list of possible career paths in science, politics and public authorities, associations and the private sector is long and could well be continued. It is not easy to explore relevant possibilities and make the right choice. "With our game, we want to help prospective ecologists find the most suitable career path, and we would like to support academic mentors in providing career advice to their students" explained Yuval Itescu, a postdoc at IGB and FUB. That is why the game is aiming at all those who are still looking for the right field of study or who already hold their degree in ecology or a related discipline. "We do not only want to demonstrate the diversity of career paths, we also want to emphasize that leaving academia is not a failure, but a choice – for many even the better one," added Maud Bernard-Verdier, also a postdoc in Jonathan Jeschke's research group at IGB and FUB.
The game, jointly developed by the team, is a trump card game. Each of the 33 cards corresponds to a career opportunity in one of four sectors and in one of nine positions, and also includes specific examples of potential job types. In addition, each card uses seven skill categories to indicate the skills typically required to succeed in the position. The game is based on a worldwide survey that had been conducted by the research team among 315 ecologists from 35 countries. It is available as an appendix to a peer-reviewed open access publication. It can be downloaded and printed for free.