So, let me weigh in with some ideas--in an attempt to provide a way forward. Let's look at some trends.
First, I made this graphic for
Created by L. Powell, 2016
Will jobs be fewer in these agencies? A Republican administration has always created that fear in the
Ironic source: Downsizinggovernment.org
The work-around for current students: take advantage of any chance to get into federal employment. Pathways Program. Take a non-biologist job to get into the federal system. I know many current federal employees who tell stories of taking jobs as office assistants or maintenance workers just to get federal status. They bided their time until a position was open and their federal status gave them a leg up. Do what is needed. Be geographically flexible--yes, you may have to spend time away from your boyfriend or girlfriend or fiancé. You may have to move away from family for a few years. How badly do you want to work in the field (and this has been true even when jobs were a little more plentiful at the federal level)?
How about research careers? You want to get into graduate school
Source: New York Times
That point is important--game species. If you are a student with dreams of doing conservation on bobolinks, consider getting a summer job working with pheasant research (funded by the PR funds). If you want to have a research career with focus on reptiles, consider a summer job on a white-tailed deer research project. Learn how to conduct research. Use the game species funds to your advantage. Come back to non-game species when opportunity provides--don't sit around waiting for a bobolink project to magically appear. You'll waste some of the most critical years of your career.
And finally--what about those students who are looking at jobs funded by state government? Academic positions or jobs in state wildlife agencies? Both types of jobs are supported by state-level budgets. Although a Trump presidency has potential to affect the economy, there are also longer-term economic trends that are coinciding with the new Trump administration. Students should be looking at those as they plan where they might work and target their job applications.
Take a look at this figure of 2015 budgets by region,
Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis
Academic work-around: look at smaller state schools and private colleges. This was my career track during the late 90's when academic positions were also in short supply. I worked for three years at a private college--it gave me teaching experience and the start to a research career, and I worked what was left of my nights to get manuscripts published from my postdoc and PhD. After three years, I was more competitive for a large-University position. Do what it takes. Students will always go to smaller schools, and there will always be positions there. Smaller salary. Yup--my family was $2500 away from food stamp level the first year of my first academic job. I did what I could to start my career, and we made it.
Another work-around: look to NGOs. Non-governmental sources of employment. Audubon, TNC, zoos, Pheasants Forever, Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory--and other similar folks. Especially in states where economy is going well, these groups may have funding for positions in conservation and research that are not dependent (as least as much) on federal dollars. Their members or supporters provide funds--these donations are dependent on the economy (people donate when they have extra money to donate), so keep your eye on the economy as you look at these organizations.
Last work-around: look to environmental or ecological consulting firms. These jobs are sky-rocketing, to be honest. In times of state and federal budget shortages, agencies may have money to do a project but no money to hire the workers to do it. The solution is to contract the wetland restoration or forest management planning process to an environmental consulting firm. Start looking at job ads with those firms and see what they require of their employees. Plan your courses and training appropriately, or spend a summer working for them rather than working on a graduate student research project (as much as that pains me to write it...).
It's your future--society needs you more than ever. Our environment needs you more than ever!
Don't panic at the change occurring, politically. I'm not addressing any human rights concerns of a Trump presidency here--my goal is to specifically work with students on their career options. I hope these thoughts are helpful. If you have other ideas, feel free to post a comment!