Jaimie Orlosk (CAS ’11)
My BU days…
My experience at BU was invaluable. I actually did not settle on a marine science major until my sophomore year. I initially applied for biomedical engineering, but switched to CAS almost immediately upon my arrival. Then I was on an environmental science track until I realized my interests were specifically in the marine sciences and BU had one of the top marine programs in the country. Most other marine majors at BU applied to BU solely because of BUMP, but it was a very happy accident for me.
I did the BUMP semester twice and both times, it was the most incredible academic experience I could hope for. What BUMP offers students is a chance to think for themselves, make their own mistakes, more importantly fix their own mistakes, and repeat. “Regular” college classes that take place in a classroom for an hour a day three times a week, just cannot give you all the skills you need to succeed in this field. You can learn as many fish names and textbook nutrient cycles as you wish, but there’s no point if you can’t apply that knowledge in the field. This is what BUMP provides.
My alumni days…
In school, I was interested in a lot of marine geology and intended to go straight into grad school to work on hydrothermal vents. However, I had volunteered in the penguin department of the New England Aquarium and loved every minute of it. I wanted to continue with animal husbandry work and potentially work my way into marine animal rehabilitation and release. With graduation approaching, I was torn between grad school hydrothermal vent research and marine animal rehab.
Ultimately, I chose to seek out a job in the marine rehabilitation field. I recently finished an internship at the Marine Animal Rehabilitation Center (MARC) in Biddeford, Maine. The internship included nearly all aspects of husbandry and veterinary care for harbor seals. I was actively involved in necropsies, fish preparation and feeding, water quality testing, cleaning and maintenance of the facility, animal physical exams and procedures, extensive animal restraint, and record keeping. I also worked on a policies project for NOAA, which should be helpful for marine rehab centers nationwide. This was an extremely hands-on internship and a great peek into the marine rehab field. Following this internship, I am certain that this is the field in which I’d like to remain.
Now, I am working full-time at an animal hospital in Salisbury, Massachusetts and volunteering once a week at the rehab center in Maine. Through my internship and talking with the staff at MARC, I learned that animal clinics are a great way to learn the skills necessary to work at a marine animal rehab facility. Overall, I am thrilled with my BU experience and am enjoying my work and the career path I chose.
My advice to future alumni…
1. Explore all your options.
Your major is called marine science for a reason. The marine semesters give you a chance to try out many different marine fields. This is an invaluable opportunity because you can find what you love and just as importantly what you don’t like before your graduate.
2. If you can fit it into your schedule, do a SEA Semester. When I went to BU, the Sea Education Association was a joint program with BU. It is an oceanography-based course, and obviously I did not end up with an oceanography-based career, but I learned so much about myself as a person and as a scientist that it was one the best experiences of my life.
3. Get published. If you have a professor that is willing to help you get one of your papers published, push hard to get that done! Being a published undergrad is a great advantage to have.
4. Keep an open mind and give it everything you’ve got. If you go into each marine semester class with an open mind and give it all your effort, you will enjoy your experience and learn more than you ever expected. By all means, if you get placed in your second choice class, don’t go in the first day assuming you’ll hate it. This is a miserable attitude and useless in this field.
5. Be persistent. Sufficient funding at marine animal rehab facilities is a common challenge, as seals don’t pay for their visits like pet owners do at the vet’s. If you don’t find your dream job right after graduation, find internships that will help you get there and keep going!
6. Be happy. Your attitude is everything in this field. If you go into a new job, internship, or volunteer program with an open attitude and a desire to learn more, you will succeed.