Career-related questions

Date: Wed Apr 23 2003 - 09:37:17 EDT

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    Dear Dagmar,
    My name is Emma Loy-Santelli and I am a 7th grade student at Bethlehem
    Central Middle School in Albany, New York. I have been given a project to
    research a person in a career that is of interest to me. I chose Marine
    Biology. I have attended the New England Aquarium summer program and a
    marine biology program at SeaWorld in Florida. I am particularly interested
    in marine mammals. If this is okay, I have listed the questions below.
    Thank you for your time.

    Emma Loy-Santelli

    1. How did you become interested in this career?
    2. What education did you need for this job? (I can see the answer to this
    in the biography information.)
    3. Do you work with lots of people, or alone?
    4. Do you travel a lot for your job?
    5. What are the rewards of what you do?
    6. What don't you like about your job?
    7. What advice would you give to someone thinking of this career?
    8. What are the most difficult aspects of your job?
    9. How long have you been in this field?
    10. What are some special skills you need for this job?

    Dear Emma,

    Sounds like you already have some pretty exposure to the field of marine biology! Good for you!

    1. I had actually been interested in becoming a marine mammal veterinarian when I was in high school in Houston and as an undergraduate in college in San Antonio. I already had vet clinic experience, and searched long and hard for marine mammal experience that wouldn't make me pay to do the work. My persistence paid off, and I did a research internship at the University of Hawaii when I was in my junior year of college for one semester. I really liked it. I didn't get into vet school, but I ended up helping animals anyway, which was real interest all along. The work I've done allows me to help hundreds and thousands of marine mammals and sea turtles, and not just a handful of individuals.

    2) For education information, I suggest you go to the WhaleNet website and look for the link to the career booklet available online for free at the Society for Marine Mammalogy website. It does a good job of talking about education. Basically, the more schooling you have, the better a chance you have a good paying job, but that is often the case with any job these days.

    3) It depends on the task. I often work alone in my office on a project, but as part of a team to finish a project. Just really depends on the project. Some are so large and complicated, there aren't enough hours in the day for me to finish the job alone.

    4)The travel thing is sporadic. It depends on the situation. For example, when I first took this job, I had a lot of traveling, since the company was just venturing into marine biology work. Since I had connections, my boss traveled with me to meet all the different people I knew and basically to let people know that our company now does marine biology work and that I work for this company right now, and not the government, like before. In the last year, I had hardly any travel, and then all of a sudden in the past month, I've been on 2-3 day business trips every week this month, as we kick off new projects for the Navy.

    5) Rewards. Hmmm. Well, obviously a nice paycheck is a good reward. I get the satisfaction of knowing that I'm helping the animals by trying to make sure people do things in a way to avoid lots of impacts to the animals. I also get to teach people about marine mammals and sea turtles, and it makes me feel good that people are interested in the environment and want jobs related to it.

    6) Probably the fact that I rarely get to go into the field and do actual hands-on type work and breathe some fresh air. Sometimes dealing with difficult people is a real drag, too.

    7) Advice. Hmmm, make sure you understand that marine biologists very rarely get paid a lot of money. Try to find something positive about your job (hopefully the money aspect isn't the best part of your job) and keep reminding yourself about that when you feel frustrated.

    8) Difficult aspects typically involve dealing with other people. Everyone has different agendas, and sometimes the politics is a real pain.

    9) I've been truly involved with marine mammal work since 1989, since I started my graduate work.

    10) The skills depend on what your job entails. I've been lucky enough to diversify and not just do the desk work, but our company also has a scientific diving program. So, SCUBA in that respect is needed for my job (though rarely used). I would say good typing skills (b/c you're on the computer all day), good organization skills, good communication skills, the ability to write and under a short deadline. Persistence is a wonderful skill, but it can sometimes we viewed as being aggressive...all a matter of perspective.

    Good luck!
    Dagmar Fertl

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