Resilience in the Face of Setbacks: Interview with Nicole Blankertz

Episode 95
28m | Jun 1, 2023

Navigating career paths can be a daunting challenge. We pour our time and effort into applications, only to be met with rejection after rejection. Many aspiring wildlife professionals can relate to the frustration and self-doubt that arise from these setbacks.

In the pursuit of our dreams and career goals, we often find ourselves facing moments of self-doubt and uncertainty. Thoughts of inadequacy and imposter syndrome can quietly seep in, casting doubts on our abilities and leaving us feeling hopeless when we don’t get the outcomes we want. But in the face of these challenges, one of the most valuable lessons we can learn is the importance of not giving up. 

Today on the Fancy Scientist Podcast, I interviewed Nicole Blankertz, park ranger with Michigan State Parks, and alumni of my Successful Wildlife Professional. Nicole didn’t expect to become a park ranger, in fact, she was determined to become a wildlife researcher, but she struggled to get positions when the pandemic changed her plans. Nicole's path was far from smooth sailing - it included setbacks and self-doubt that would have caused many to throw in the towel. 

Nicole graduated in 2020 and had an internship lined up, which got canceled because of COVID. She applied to other jobs but didn't get any. Just rejection after rejection. All of these rejections led to some imposter syndrome and frustration and she knew things had to change. She made a big decision and enrolled in the The Successful Wildlife Professional program so that we could work together to get her interviews.  

Through learning from the program and personal mentoring from me, we improved Nicole’s job application and things changed dramatically. We focused only on her job application without adding a single new experience, skill, certification, etc. We just emphasized and demonstrated the experience she already had. 

Nicole also decided to apply for some jobs outside of the realm of wildlife research. The outcome of all of this? A life-changing position with the parks department, proving that a strategy and persistent mindset can unlock unexpected possibilities.

In this episode, we talk about what it's like to work as a park ranger and how Nicole is keeping the possibility of working in wildlife research again open. So, if you're wrestling with imposter syndrome or feel like giving up, this episode is for you! Get ready to be inspired, motivated, and armed with the tools to conquer your own self-doubt. When you believe in yourself, refuse to give up, and take action, there's no limit to what you can achieve. 

Specifically, we discussed:

  • How to revamp your job application and enhance your chances of getting hired
  • The unwavering importance of persistence in the face of rejection
  • The significance of non-wildlife jobs and transferable skills in attaining your dream wildlife career
  • What it’s like to work as a park ranger and in the park service
  • Key considerations to understand when contemplating a career change
  • And much more, including invaluable GREEN FLAGS to guide you in pursuing your dream career in wildlife biology!

I’m Dr. Stephanie Manka (formerly Schuttler), a wildlife biologist of nearly 20 yrs with 20+ peer-reviewed scientific publications, author of the book Getting a Job in Wildlife Biology: What It’s Like and What You Need to Know ( and founder of Fancy Scientist. My channel and the Fancy Scientist LLC is dedicated to connecting people to science and nature, breaking stereotypes of, and empowering scientists. I help aspiring and struggling wildlife biologists get the right training so they can get jobs, live out their life’s purpose and make a difference in this world.

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Fancy Scientist with Dr. Stephanie Manka