Yes, the relationship between Grad student and advisor/advisor’s research interest has a big effect on career opportunities. Two ideas for finding connections:
- Ask around to people working in the field...where did they go to school? What Grad programs do they recommend? Local Dept of Natural Resources staff, Soil & Water Cons District staff, etc.
- Use Google Scholar to look up recent journal articles on topics of interest to you. Many are likely to have been authored by faculty (potential advisors) and their recent grad students. Then look up those faculty members on their University profile pages to read about their research interests.
- Reaching out to faculty can be tricky, the good ones are super busy! Some like to be contacted directly, some never answer email, some are always out of the office. Try contacting the faculty person’s support staff or the secretary of the department for insider information. They usually know what’s what and are happy to help.