A Rookie in Forestry
Rookie, greener, newbie. Maybe these words apply to you, or they are a throwback to your first job. Either way, being a beginner is a hurdle everyone must overcome at some point in their career. Starting a career is intimidating, like any major change it brings uncertainties and challenges you haven’t faced before. Personally, I experienced many different emotions transitioning from school to the workplace this past year and reflecting on it has made me realize how much I have learned about myself and the importance of being keen right from the start of your career journey.
My name is Katie Jones, and I am as green as they get. 2021 was a flash for me, all in one year I graduated my Forestry Technician diploma program at Fleming College and landed a full-time job as a forest tech with a forestry company in my hometown. I had just turned 20 and it was overwhelming yet very exciting how fast things were coming together so early in my life. I was very fortunate to have been offered a chance to utilize the things I had learned in school for the first time in the forestry world. The most exciting part about joining a new workplace was knowing that there was and still is so much to learn about forestry from the knowledgeable people that I have the chance to work with every day.
In my role as a forest tech, I am fortunate to be given many opportunities to learn. In the short span of 9 months, I have been able to apply the skills I have learned in school to a variety of tasks while learning so much along the way. Tree planting, creating forest management plans, conducting field surveys, and learning different invasive species management practices are only a handful of things I get to do as a tech. I am always excited to learn new skills and take any opportunity I can to gain more experience. Something that has helped me a lot while starting my career is pushing the importance of creating opportunities for myself. I realized very quickly that creating long term connections with other forestry professionals is extremely valuable. I believe that young people catch the attention of employers and professionals, especially in the forest sector that has, for the most part, been run by an older male demographic. I think its promising to see more young people getting into forestry and contributing their innovative ideas to move forestry forward.
As a young person who has a lot to learn still, some days I find myself feeling discouraged while working independently. One obstacle I face as someone starting their career that I’m sure many others can relate to, is finding your confidence in unfamiliar situations. Sometimes it can be intimidating to be working with people who are more experienced than you are. The type of work environment you are in is what makes or breaks your workplace experience. I’ve learned that if you’re in a supportive work environment coworkers will act as mentors and will be more than willing to help you succeed. Being out of your comfort zone and making mistakes is a part of the learning experience. One thing I often remind myself is that everyone started from the same spot that I’m in. And don’t be too hard on yourself, you are your biggest critic!
Overall, there has never been a better time than now to start a career in forestry. I really love what I get to do every day and I hope that other young people starting their forestry career can have a positive experience as well. It feels bad ass to be a young woman in forestry and to be a part of an empowering community such as Women in Wood. I continue to grow by being keen, searching for opportunities and reaching out to amazing forestry professionals. These are the things helping me find my place in forestry. One day I won’t be the rookie anymore, but like everyone else, I will never stop learning.