One essential and great component of the Warnell curriculum is a professional experience. It is a great chance to get out in the field and see what you can do with your degree, whether that be a Maymester or summer field course, or an internship experience. This summer, I got the chance to do both.
I realized in my first semester in Warnell I was either going to have to take a heavier load of classes during the school year or take a class over the summer. Luckily for me, Warnell offers a Maymester course about fish in the field. This course counts for the professional experience requirement and fulfills a needed class. It seemed too good not to take, so I did. I spent the next three weeks fishing everyday, whether it be seining, backpack or boat electro fishing, or using a rod and reel. We started out camping in the mountains, and learning about brightly colored stream fish in cold waters. We then stayed in Athens for the next week and ventured out everyday to go sample for local, warmwater species. For the last week, we go to the coast and were able to go into the marshes and beach to find marine species.
While we were on Maymester, I got a chance to also see what I would be doing for the summer. I was hired as a field technician for the Sturgeon lab, and from that I got a summer filled with new opportunities for learning skills that I would use for the rest of my life. I worked on a boat everyday, and got to do everything. I backed in trailers, drove the boats, set and pulled nets, mended nets, and was able to handle an endangered species. I was able to help monitor their population for recovery.
For some, the professional experience requirement is annoying and takes away from an easy summer. But for me, it was the most fun summer I have had. The summers that we get in college are limited, and while they may one of the last few times we get a “break” before we start a career, I urge you to make the most of them. There are so many options that Warnell offers, whether it’s through exciting Maymesters and summer classes or the job board that offers internships and jobs, taking these opportunities can tremendously help you get to know people in the field and acquire those skills needed for future jobs. They can also give you a chance to get away and experience something new for a while. You’ll never know until you get out there and try.