What is your current job and what does it entail?
I am an aquarist at the Seacoast Science Center in Rye, NH. On any given day, I do a variety of jobs. I look after the animals on display, collect organisms and food for the exhibits, perform maintenance on the life support systems, run educational programs about the organisms on display, and even design exhibits from the ground up.
What was the key factor in your career decision?
What do like most about your career?
I have always loved the ocean and marine animals. I love learning new things and teaching others. Solving problems and taking on new projects always keeps me interested and wanting to work harder. Being an aquarist at a small organization such as the SSC is a perfect fit for me.
I really get excited about learning new things. My job allows me to take time to research information for new exhibits and new species and develop that information into educational programs. The freedom I have to pursue new ideas is not found at most workplaces and I truly value the independence I have.
What do you like least about your career?
This field can be competitive. I was never the student who got straight As or all the honors, so upon entering the "real world" I found that you have to work very hard to compete with others to land that perfect job. My line of work is also very "public," in that if I cut corners or forget to perform certain tasks, everyone at my workplace, including the visitors, will know.
What do you do to relax?
I love to play sports: volleyball, tennis and windsurfing, to name a few. I also love to travel, play guitar and try new foods. I have always enjoyed photography and have recently started photographing nearly every marine invertebrate I come across at the SSC.
Who are your heroes/heroines?
What advice would you give a high school student who expressed an interest in pursuing a career in your field?
Teaching is a truly heroic profession, and I think that many science teachers and professors I have had along the way are worthy of the title hero/heroine. I also would consider my parents my heroes because they were my first teachers, always answering my many questions and encouraging me to ask more.
Work hard in school, ask questions and think about what really drives you. Be ready for change and be up for a challenge. Excel in science and math, and perfect your writing skills because those will always be necessary. In college, try to work with a professor who you think does interesting work. Take courses that cater to your interests; I benefited most from field courses where student-teacher interaction was high.
Are career opportunities in your field increasing or decreasing and why?
It seems as though careers in the marine sciences are more popular today than ever. Depending on the political atmosphere and public interest, funding for the ever-increasing number of jobs needed is never guaranteed. It seems that the number of jobs in multidisciplinary fields (such as oceanography) is steady, while specialized jobs, specifically openings that do not require PhDs, are increasingly difficult to find.
What will you be doing 10 years from today?
Hopefully, I will be working somewhere near the ocean doing research, answering big questions that challenge me to look closer and learn more. I am sure that some aspect of my job will involve teaching others and sharing my passion for marine biology and that's all I need.
Salary: $25,000 - $40,000