Julie O’Neill

Julie O’Neill (CAS ’11)

Julie O'Neill and a Navy Dolphin in San Diego. Julie was an intern with the Navy's Marine Mammal Program, where she learned basic elements of marine mammal training and husbandry. (courtesy of US Navy)
Julie O’Neill and a Navy Dolphin in San Diego. Julie was an intern with the Navy’s Marine Mammal Program, where she learned basic elements of marine mammal training and husbandry. (courtesy of US Navy)

BU Career

I majored in Marine Science and did the BUMP semester my Junior year. I really enjoyed the trip to Belize with Prof. Lobel. I look back proudly and fondly upon my time during the marine semester, getting to take Marine Invertebrates (BI 547) with Prof. John Finnerty, Ichthyology (BI 531/532) with Prof. Phil Lobel, Sensory Biology (BI 563) with Prof. Jelle Atema.

I joined Sigma Kappa my sophomore year and played club water polo. I got Scuba certified through the fit rec class.

Post-BU Career

Julie O'Neill and a Navy Seal Lion in San Diego. Julie was an intern with the Navy's Marine Mammal Program, where she learned basic elements of marine mammal training and husbandry. (courtesy of US Navy)
Julie O’Neill and a Navy Seal Lion in San Diego. Julie was an intern with the Navy’s Marine Mammal Program, where she learned basic elements of marine mammal training and husbandry. (courtesy of US Navy)

 

What started me on this journey was my lab and field experience at BU during the BUMP semester and my internship at the New England Aquarium in the Medical center. I had amazing support and a lot of encouragement. I was actually directed to the Navy Marine Mammal Program internship by one of the biologists at the Aquarium Medical Center. I was also able to learn about marine mammal training with Patty Schilling (she is an IMATA board member) and other staff members in the marine mammal training department.

If students are interested in the Navy Program check out their Animal Care and Training Internship Program.

During this internship I was introduced to marine mammal training in a variety of different settings. The internship program is located in San Diego and focuses on Bottlenose dolphins and California sea lions. The staff is full of knowledge and a wide range of experience. It was a great way to learn the basics of training, get some hands-on experience and to get a feel for husbandry, and medical care techniques. For this internship, it is about the effort you want to put into it. You can get as much out of it as you put into it.

Interested students can check out the Dolphin Quest Internship program.

I am in my third week into this internship (at the Hawaii location) and already I have some advice for those applying: This internship is about both teamwork and personal growth. It is a great way to learn and get hands on experience. It is also very goal oriented; those with a positive attitude will thrive here.

To sum it all up: those who have a positive attitude, who are self motivated, and work well in a team setting will find success in these internships.

Advice for current and future BUMP students

    1. Swim! Be beyond comfortable in the water. At the Navy they look for people who are strong swimmers and are strong divers. But do not be afraid to apply if you are not, they look for all different skill levels.
    2. Be ready to get dirty: every trainer started by cleaning buckets and sorting fish. So appreciate every opportunity you get, even if it comes with a lot of cleaning.
    3. The training world is a small one, your reputation is everything. So always be professional and show that you are encouraging of others. This means answer emails promptly and professionally. Also, be competitive with yourself, not with your peers. (again teamwork is so highly valued in this profession)
    4. Become an IMATA member, there is a discount for students and it is a great resource for jobs and internships.
    5.The final bit of advice I have, though it may already be an obvious point: Be a human sponge, these internships are not just about the experience in the field, they are about the people you will meet and the knowledge they have from years of their own experience. Take it all in and grow and learn from it.