Krkonoše is a wonderfully unique mountain range located in the north-eastern region of Bohemia – the border between the Czech Republic and Poland runs through the summit ridge. They are protected by UNESCO’s “Man and Biosphere” programme but they have also been designated as National Parks – on both the Czech and Polish sides.
Czech KRNAP employs around 260 people. After the Šumava National Park, it is the second biggest national park, if you go by the number of employees in the Czech Republic. The majority of employees are foresters and so-called “referents” – qualified natural and human science specialists (biologists, historians, etc.). Both types of job can guarantee something that the majority of green-minded people “dream of” – loads of time outside in the great outdoors.
“Then, we have educational centre employees and the staff – administration, the offices of the director, lawyers and finance specialists, but also a spokesperson, an auditor, and a photographer.” explains Mr. Kašpar.
“Obviously, the job requirements differ according to the position. When it comes to referents, we need specialists with higher education in biology, ecology or environmental protection. When it comes to the positions of foresters, a specialised background in forestry is necessary – in this case, a forestry school.
As for people willing to work as referents, one advantage can be completing your masters thesis on a topic relating to KRNAP. We give preference to people who know more about KRNAP and completing a master research in the park certainly does provide this additional knowledge. Another advantage is that because of this cooperation, we know student in person.
Formally, we are not required to announce open positions anywhere; neither are we required to undergo a competitive interview process. However, we do that very often, and I have had very good experiences with open competition, as we have found many highly-skilled people in this way. It involves announcing the open position online, selecting CVs and, in the final stage, inviting anywhere from 10 to 15 people for a personal interview. Unfortunately, the competition is usually very steep and we are also sad to refuse some candidates. In both cases, whether the open position is announced or not, it may help a lot if we already know a good candidate who has conducted their masters thesis research with us.
We do cooperate with universities in regards to establishing thesis topics. For example, we have a long tradition of working with universities in Prague, Hradec Králové, České Budějovice or Olomouc for organising research in the fields of environmental protection and biology.
What’s more, recently we have been trying to develop new fields for student research which deal with social and public-relations matters, for example the history of the park, relations with local community, social structure of visitors, and so forth. Recently, my colleagues from KRNAP have been going to universities with the intent of meeting students and discussing these new possible areas of research.
On the other hand, in order to work in the education centre, a higher education background is not necessary. Here, good social skills, a friendly and outgoing personality and creativity are key. Experience with children and youth is an advantage, even if it is informal experience, for example involvement in a scouts movement or other youth organizations. If the person shows excellent communication skills, they can be hired in the educational centre even with no practical experience in their CV.”
That is why Mr. Kašpar says “Do not focus only on the experience you need to work somewhere. Turn it around: Think about how you can use the experiences you already have to their maximum potential, because every experience, event or challenge you have experienced may be useful when it comes to your professional work. Being active in environmental or youth organizations, student associations, taking part in some events, travelling and undertaking everyday challenges – any of these things could result in useful experience.”
Mr. Kašpar says that due to past experiences in eco-activism he can understand people from the non-governmental sector – what problems and challenges they have and their way of thinking. Later on, he became the head of communication and spokesperson of the Ministry of Environment, which enabled him to experience how the state institution works.
“In our policy, as a Park, we also have to focus on cooperation with the locals. I hope local communities will consider the park as their friend but, as always, communication between stakeholders brings its share of challenges”.
If you know different sectors, you can understand people of different backgrounds much better. This is a must for efficient environmental policy-making. Each cooperation or place you work helps you to understand each particular player. This is also how you build your network, by keeping in contact with the people you’ve met in all these previous places.
More about KRNAP: http://www.krnap.cz/
KRNAP on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/spravakrnap/
Jobs in nature protection: www.ecojobs.cz/pl/tag/ochrana-prirody/